Life has a way of hitting you when you are down. Last year, almost exactly a year ago, I lost my beloved wife tragically and unexpectedly. The trauma of losing her rocked my world. I had never felt pain like it. I literally couldn’t breathe as my chest felt crushed.
For 6 weeks I was in hospital myself, trying desperately to be well enough to leave, yet knowing that as well as losing my wife I had also lost my home. My wife’s daughters, who she was estranged from, had cancelled the lease on our apartment. I wasn’t named on the lease as I wasn’t, and still am not, a Canadian citizen.
I could have gone back to the UK, I guess, but my wife is buried here. I felt like I would be abandoning her, that I was giving up on the hopes and dreams we had shared. She desperately wanted me to get my citizenship here. She knew I had given up everything in the UK to move continents to be with her. I had no home, no job, no money to go back to the UK and start my life over again. My heart still breaks at the thought of leaving her here and moving back.
Friends here in Halifax rallied around me. They visited me in hospital, took me down to Liverpool for my wife’s funeral and made sure that I never felt alone. I moved into a room in an apartment building and found my “Halifam” next door. A family who made sure I ate, socialized, cried and talked through the early days after my wife’s death. They even threw me a little birthday party complete with a cake. I love visiting with them still.
When I moved into the homeless shelter I met the most amazing people in Halifax. These are the women who work at the shelters, who tolerate residents abusing them, who work at the shelter not for the money, but to try and really make a difference to the homeless women they work with. The staff have been my saving grace at times. They have laughed, cried and supported me through the worst year of my life. They are heroes in my book.
Then there are the haligonians. Those people who make Halifax the city I want to live in for the rest of my life. I wrote a post on a trading group, offering myself for food. I said I would do housework, yard work, dog walking, you name it in exchange for food and my Facebook exploded. So many amazing people wanted to help me. It has been overwhelming to say the least. I’ve had moments where I’ve broken down in tears at messages I’ve received.
I also panhandle in the city. Getting a smile, an acknowledgement, a “hi, how are you doing?” makes me day. I know Halifax has its own economic issues, but the generosity of haligonians to help out someone in need is amazing. Every dime I make, every food donation, every kind word means a lot to me.
Pangandling can feel so demeaning. Standing as if you are invisible can hurt your soul. You have to push any pride you have way down, and accept that this is survival.
I still have my dreams and goals. I still can see myself succeeding and I want to pay the kindness of the haligonians I’ve met forward when I’m able to. This city is my home, and I am proud to live here and be an honourary haligonian.
I have a gofundme page at gofundme.com/2t6y7ds4 if you feel you may be able to help me. Namaste