Dear Mr. Z.,
A few weeks ago, we found out that you had died.
I remember several appointments where I came a few minutes late. That annoyed me because you were always on time, or even a bit early. You didn’t like being kept waiting (which I understand because I don’t like that either). If you missed an appointment, it meant something was wrong!
I’ll never again see the Zebra sculpture in the Gare de Midi with the same eyes. That’s where we always met. That’s were you were waiting for us, with your caddie and your file of administrative documents, always in perfect order.
“Let’s go for a coffee”. You liked the small station pub with its special deal for coffee and croissant. Going anywhere else was out of the question. You never minded us coming to see you unexpectedly with a journalist or network colleagues. You quite liked a chat and telling your story.
But you could also get angry, incensed about the system of regularization in our small country.
How is it possible to abandon someone on the street for such a long time?
All those applications for regularization you had introduced over so many years…
Recently, we helped you trying again. But you didn’t fit into any category: not sick enough, too old to start working again, capable to return to your country of origin – but where you no longer had any ties. In reality, your home was here, from when you were 14 – and today you would have been 72…!
So many years gone by…
You spoke French very well; you loved this country and its culture. You grew up here. Your place of birth had almost become a totally foreign country to you.
This isn’t fair.
We’ll miss you, Mr. Z.
*) We do our utmost to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. However, we want to testify to how they must survive and how we are working together to reintegrate them. As a result, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in a different context. There is no direct link between the photos and the stories above.