During our food service at Tiburtina Tuesday earlier this week a tall man with a moustache kissed my hand. He looked in my eyes and said “thank-you, for everything you do”. I have known him for a least a year, he often comes to Tiburtina Tuesday.
Last night, Thursday evening, underneath the bridges of the Tangenziale Est., I stood a short distance from a body bag on the floor. Inside was a tall man with a moustache. The man who kissed my hand on Tuesday was inside. He died this evening while waiting to queue for food.
The breeze rippled the blue paper covering over his body. For a moment I hoped it was a sign that he was still breathing. Two army guys with guns and a uniformed polizia stood over him. The guns were held at an angle protecting his body. A simple white candle lay on his chest, beneath the blue sheath. Despite the breeze, he was dead.
I wanted to put flowers on his body, or a cross, but all I could see in the surrounding streets were pizza and kebab shops. There was nothing I could do to say or buy to make a respectful goodbye to him. My colleague crossed himself. Stefano had already lain there for an hour or more, a lifeless body beneath a thin blue paper sheet.
One of our other regular homeless guys came up and stood with me and the military. He said Stefano had two sons and a daughter, but that his wife was dead. The guy was desperately worried that Stefano will be cremated without his family even knowing.
Stefano was aged around 50. He was a man of streets. In the end the streets killed him. This is why we work tirelessly to get men off the streets. I can’t believe I won’t see this man again.
Please note. We didn’t take any photos tonight, out of respect. The one used is a library photo.