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.