In the dark of his tent at the Cliff Avenue homeless camp on Wednesday, Ken Reaume was struggling, poring over old loose notebook sheets of poems and letters.
They had been written by his partner, Anita Hauck, 45, who died Sunday night after getting trapped in a clothing donation bin at Meadowtown Shopping Centre in Pitt Meadows.
In beautiful hand writing, Anita tells Ken in several poems that she hopes he still cares, and that everything she does is for him.
“She was my soul mate,” he said in a low voice.
“She touched so many souls, so many people. She was so kind hearted. She’d give the shirt, to help anybody who needed help,” he added.
“We had plans.”
They had an appointment to look at an apartment.
Hauck used to love writing and had several poems she wanted published, then forgot about, only to learn that Ken had held kept them.
“I cannot undo the things I’ve done wrong
They happened so very long ago,
I cannot live down what others have done
But somehow I have to carry that load
All I can do is live each and every day
Trying to prove in every way
My old self and old ways have changed
And I did it all for your love
Reaume hands out another crumpled piece of paper that bears an equally heartfelt message from his wife.
“I miss the way you hold me tight
Hearing you talk in your sleep all night
I miss your touch, your strong embrace
And staring in your gorgeous face
I miss the funny things you do
Hearing you say, ‘baby, I love you’
I miss the way you keep my head
When we are face to face in bed.”
“Ken, I love you so much,” she concludes.
Hauck died trying to help others as she was trying to get clothes out of the bin, said Reaume.
Hauck was trying to get a blanket and a jacket for someone who had their possessions taken by the city bylaws department.
“She did it all the time. She was used to those boxes.”
Reaume said Hauck came from Ontario or the eastern U.S. and had to take care of her siblings at an early age.
“She loved her children very much.”
Hauck spoke out often in championing the cause of the homeless.
During an all-candidates meeting during the November civic election, she told the four mayoralty candidates about the high cost of housing and low income assistance rates. She made her case before the mayor and sought media to air her views.
“Pretty much always tried to be helpful to everybody,” said Brian Smeding, whose wife Dr. Liz Zubek runs a medical clinic on Cliff Avenue.
“She wasn’t shy of talking. She didn’t have a problem talking to the mayor, or anybody.”
Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read had met Hauck several times.
“She made a huge impression on my soul, to be honest,” Read said.
“She was a really important member of the community. It’s sad. It’s terrible.”
Hauck was also at the protest that formed on Cliff Avenue on May 6, which led to the establishment of the camp.
One of her main goals, Reaume noted, was to find a piece of land and set up an outdoor campsite for the homeless and the addicted. Solving the problem isn’t as simple as bringing someone inside, he added.
Fellow camp resident Linda ‘Mama Bear’ Whitford knew Hauck from when they were both in Vancouver 20 years ago.
Hauck was there when Whitford’s son was born. And Whitford was there when Hauck’s daughter was born.
“She held my son for the first time and now he’s 19 years old,” Whitford said.
“She was a beautiful person who loved life and just tried to help everybody.”
Whitford said Hauck went to the clothing bins every day.
“She knows those bins. That was her biggest fear, to be found in a bin, upside down.”
Whitford said that Hauck regularly retrieved clothes from bins so she could give them away.
Just weeks before, Hauck said the Salvation Army emergency shelter funding shouldn’t be cut, as requested by the City of Maple Ridge of B.C. Housing.
Hauck, who was a crack cocaine addict for 15 years in Vancouver, had said the Salvation Army’s Caring Place helps many people find treatment.
But she agreed the Cliff Avenue camp should be cleared up once the temporary shelter on Lougheed Highway opened.
The process has already begun after the shelter opened Thursday.
At the time, she said bystanders who yell at the homeless should keep one thing in mind: “There’s not a thing you can say to us that we haven’t said to ourselves.”
Hauck also volunteered at Salvation Army’s Caring Place nearby for many years.
“We want it known that she will be dearly missed by many people here,” said Darrell Pilgrim, with the Caring Place.
No service arrangements have been made for Hauck, although Pilgrim’s been in contact with the family.
Hauck use to share her poetry at the Caring Place and had wonderful ideas about the future, he added.
“I believe that Anita was always trying to make the world a better place.”