After six months of searching for next of kin, I felt like giving up on the case of a man who died in 2014. Something about his story kept me going even though I hadn’t found any of his relatives except a wife who died in the early nineties.
Maybe it was the seventeen felonies by the time he was forty. Maybe it was the two guys that held him down while he was stabbed on a friend’s sofa. It may have been the four times shortly before he died that he was hauled to jail for riding the bus without paying a fare, only to be tossed back out on the street after they booked him because they really didn’t want a man who needed a detox center in jail. More likely, it was that the sum of everything I found told me that people had been giving up on him for years (seemingly for good reasons) and that he’d probably given up on them, and himself, decades before he died.
Yesterday, the kindness of one civil servant led me to an adult stepchild who had not seen the deceased man in many years. That person was able to provide the name of two siblings. Those names led me to an obituary of the decedent’s parents and 13 siblings, some of whom are still alive. Today, the stepchild emailed and asked if I would be sure to let his family know that there is a family photo album if they would like it. There is always somebody out there who holds the good and decent parts of your life, even when everything seems lost.