In memory of Charlotte

Published by Kate Sen in the blog Kate Sen's blog. Views: 74

It took us a while to realize that Charlotte had disappeared, and even then we did not know whether she had just moved on, perhaps back to Princeton which she had often talked about.

We missed her because she had always been kind to the kids. Always bringing them a present, sometimes a leaf or a bottle cap or a bookmark she had made or a something she had knitted. She was always knitting and donating things to the homeless. She preferred to give than to receive, perhaps in part to keep her dignity despite her state. Always volunteering with the homeless instead of just receiving the same services.

She talked of her life, of how she taught at Princeton. And often one wondered how much of those stories was knitted out of thin thread. Somehow, it was easier to believe that Sam had fought in an unnamed war, because homeless veterans were not unusual.

Professors on the other hand were expected to publish or perish, and not survive on the street. They were expected to be book smart not street smart. And Charlotte was definitely street smart. She knew who to avoid, and would warn us of them. We did not know where she slept, but definitely not in a shelter because there it was too easy for a fight to pick you.

When she stopped coming around, we did not even know where to check. Of course, we hoped she was ok, but in a way it is more comforting when there is a body or a note with an explanation. Like with Liam, at least they found his body, though no explanation there. After his death, his family had come for the funeral. That was quite a surprise. We never even knew he had a family. A married sister with three kids all immaculately dressed. Unlike Liam himself who never had been. They did not really look alike, Liam and his sister.

Charlotte had never been immaculately dressed either. We had to pretend we did not notice when her underwear showed or her smell. It would not have been polite to notice, and she valued politeness.

Sam thought Charlotte may have been an angel, who had now moved on, and none of us could find any argument against that. He found a chrysalis shaped like an angel around the time when Charlotte was gone, and he thought that was a sign. It was the best sign we had.
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