I suspect if I ever saw 32-year-old Jeanine Allen – and odds are, I likely did, as this is Winnipeg – I wouldn’t have looked twice.
Police haven’t said yet whether Allen died of foul play. She was found in her Winnipeg apartment on Kennedy Street last Thursday with unknown injuries. As of this morning, police were still waiting on full autopsy results to determine the cause of death.
Regardless of whether Allen’s death was homicide or not, there was something about the self-proclaimed loner I found quite moving.
"Wants to go home too, missing my family there," she wrote on her Facebook page days before her death.
Maybe it was the length of time before her body was found, like nobody really kept track of her. One report I got was that it was welfare workers who clued in something had gone wrong for Allen, thus leading them to get a caretaker to open her suite, thus revealing her body.
Maybe it was Allen’s stretch to get by on social assistance, which meant luxuries for her were paying $10 to watch pay-per-view wrestling at a Main Street bar, according to a friend.
Maybe it was the fact she was tossed out by her adopted family at the age of 18, according to her biological mother. Her remaining biological relatives live about 1000 kilometres north of her, plus an aunt who ran into Jeanine last month while waiting for a food hamper to be delivered.
Allen’s photo didn’t run in our paper, but I've included a few here. There’s something eminently familiar about her, another lost young woman.
And I thought of this poem, Musee des Beaux Arts, which cemented my love of W.H. Auden:
"About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on."
Another update – no arrest made in the Wildewood Club mischief spree, at least according to club staff. Club president Gord Doerksen told me today that the club is still closed after a spate of mischief that left it with more than $100,000 damage but could be reopening as soon as January 5.