People are elusive, but you can always find them. The internet may have stolen our souls and taken our time, but in return it gives you instant access to the little minutiae that make up people’s lives.
The other day, I was covering a city meeting about green space in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. Abandoned railroad tracks, empty lots, forgotten bridges, the space around Cook County jail- such was the hood’s potential for “green.”
I needed to get in touch with the city girl who had the visual component for my story…a photo of the jail with some tree scratchings around it, a bike path drawn through urban decay, little hand-drawn humans gathered near the industrial, indestructible Chicago river.
She had given me her name but not much else, and so I plugged that into that great answerer of all questions asked called the internet.
I found her, but as the internet has a habit of doing, I also found other, less city-related items, like her sister’s obituary from 2010.
Her sister, dead at 28 for no reason given in the obit, was born in Evanston, died at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. She finished high school and college and was a cheerleader through both of those. She went to church. Instead of flowers, the family requests donations to a fund in her name, which by my watch implies anticipated death, struggle, pain and immense sorrow. Her sister, the girl I was looking for, is her only sibling.
"So very sorry for the loss of a young flower," one woman writes. "She was needed elsewhere."
The alive sister, now an only child, has short red hair, injected and interrupted by carefully placed streaks of blonde. When we talked, she said she felt strongly that the Cook County jail should be the first “greenified” thing. That trees and sidewalks were needed there more than other places.
When she had gone there to survey the area, she said she saw a woman struggling to push a baby carriage through the grass.
Just horrible, she said. Something had to be done.