Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Neighbor

I noticed the unusual formation of cars but went about business as usual. When I returned home, I found that my neighbor had put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger.

My neighbor, who is in the ICU, has brain cancer and had recently gotten news that the tumor had returned and was inoperable but I cannot believe that she pulled the trigger and I cannot believe that she pulled the trigger with her kids in the house.

Suddenly, everything that I had been fretting about seemed insignificant.

I envied my neighbors their Jaguar and other expensive cars, their extreme home makeover, maid and yard swat team. Right before I found out what happened, I went to retrieve the trashcan, glanced at their immaculate lawn and looked at the new strain of weeds and was making a game plan to see if I should try to tackle them or if it was time to call for back-up.

I also remembered the time, a couple of months ago, that I was pulling weeds and the neighbor's son came to warn me that he had seen a snake. I asked him where and he kind of shrugged and said it was a small one, a garter snake. He walked away then came back to let me know that, if I saw one, I could come and get him.

Another time, the son came over unexpectedly and asked me to Beta sit. He told me how much to feed the Beta and not to tinker with the water. I was so happy that I was able to keep his Beta alive until he returned...

And I just can't shake it. The incident made me think about the previous neighbor who had lived in that house. It was about five years ago and I had returned from Jamaica and thought that the neighbors were having a party. Only the husband, newly retired, had died of a heart attack while bicycling and there was no history of heart attack in the family. What a bum deal, I thought. I also remember my widow neighbor rolling the trashcan out. It was so weird to see her doing that since her husband was always the one to take out the trash.

Now, I can't get my newest neighbor off my mind. I'm tense. There are tears which I suspect is from my own grief just under the surface but rising like homemade dough plus the knowledge that the neighbor had to be in a tremendous amount of psychic and physical pain to bring her to that point.

I keep thinking about the kids, the husband, the sisters, the mother and the father of my neighbor. I keep thinking about the poet Nikki Giovanni who once said that she does not understand people who commit suicide. She said that you are going to eventually die and your expiration will take care of itself.

But, mostly, I keep thinking about the gentle six footer who offered to be my snake wrangler. He was already being home schooled because teasing at school had gotten out of hand. He will have to live the rest of his life as a young man who was in the house when his mother pulled the trigger.

Here's part of the note he left while I was Beta sitting:

Hey I'm sorry i forgot about my fish at your house i got back yesterday. I had just noticed he wasn't here...when you get home give me a call and i'll run over and pick him up...


  1. i'm so sorry for you and your neighbor and her family..

  2. As humans, we always want an explanation. Sometimes, there just isn't one.

    Hugs and love to you, my dear friend.

  3. That is very sad, I am praying for that neighbor and her family. I remember in middle school across from my private school, a gun went off. The neighbor across the street committed suicide and lay in the yard under a tree. Very frightening to see a body on the ground so close.

  4. @etoileblog,

    Thanks, I appreciate it.


    Thanks, woman. As someone who frequently looks for explanations and information, it's definitely hard to grasp that there is sometimes not one...


    I'm sure that it was frightening to see that neighbor and I shudder to think how frightening the experience must have been for my neighbor's kids...

    Thanks for sending up prayers.

  5. When something like this happens I think it makes us inspect our own lives- making us more aware of what we have and teaches us to be more appreciative of life. SO very sad. :(

  6. Oh my goodness. How devastating! I don't know what to say. That's a hell of a shocking thing. So sorry.

  7. @gingersnapper,

    Yeah, I never know what to say either and I always feel bad when someone feels like they had no other option...