Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Sad Neighborhood

Two paramedics came to my garage door this morning, apparently at the wrong address. They were looking for my next door neighbor, who had called 911.

Sometimes when I get up in the middle of the night, I notice that the lights are on next door at #22. The lady who lives there is elderly and her back is horribly bent forward - I can only assume from years of arthritis and hard work. I'm guessing we are both members of the "brotherhood of the insomniac" and find a certain comfort in sitting by the kitchen window with a snack at 3 am as the rest of the world slumbers.

Aside from the neighbor, the only people I ever see next door are hospice nurses, keeping a 24-hour vigil, tending to her needs. Occasionally one of them will be on her deck when I'm outside, and we'll exchange pleasantries. From what I can tell, she seldom has other visitors.

I don't know her name, but she died this morning.

For whatever reason, I feel more than just the sadness of knowing a neighbor died. She passed without family around, and with no friends in the house except a paid caregiver.

I think that's what we all fear most - dying alone. Ultimately, it's a trip we can only complete by ourselves... but it helps when someone walks you to the door and reassures you that it's OK to go through.


Blogarita said...

I understand what you are feeling. A friendly acquaintence of mine from my short stint at IRS died last week. She died alone and no one seems quite sure what the circumstances were other than she was ill but didn't like to talk about it.

We weren't close, but her death has left me sad and confused.

Clippy Mat said...

i had a similar experience with an elderly neighbour. her house has sold and she has gone to a nursing home i since found out, but for months i didn't know if she was dead or alive. i should have 'popped in' and said hello. now it's too late. ;-(

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Very nicely said, ol' Dave. It's my worry, too.

Anonymous said...

Let it be a lesson in life for us all - to never overlook the opportunity to know our neighbors, as sad as it may seem, we may be the only family they have as they leave this world. As we all fight for that not to be our fate - let us not forget we don't want it to be theirs either.