Almost a year ago, we moved into our new home in the Hill Country. Day one, the neighbor to my left greeted me in the driveway with a bottle of wine and a loaf of banana bread and our friendship has grown into daily conversations ever since (obviously)! The neighbor to my right is a different story.
Our homes out here in our neighborhood are on about 3 acres each. We can see one another's homes from our own but they are spaced about 50 yards or so apart. I have grown used to the lights, the comings and goings, the sounds of the dogs and the over the fence chats with our neighbor on the left. The neighbor on the right was, what I assumed, living in another city or something. I can think of one time where I saw a light on in her home. Her lawn was never kept up with. Sounds of life never drifted over to our home. A thought occurred to me a time or two to walk over and introduce myself but the word on the street was that she must've moved away so I never bothered. I regret that now.
A week ago, I got a knock on my door in the middle of the day. One look out the window seeing the Deputy in uniform terrified me, assuming something had happened to someone in my family. I quickly but hesitantly opened the door to many questions about the neighbor to my right. "Have you seen her lately?" "Have you seen any cars at her home." "Have you seen any lights on in the house?" I answered no to each of the questions but it was the last one that startled me the most: "Have you noticed any peculiar smells when you go outside?" After answering no yet again, I asked the Deputy what was going on. "Unfortunately, we have discovered that your neighbor has been deceased in her home for months." OH. MY. GOODNESS. Y'all... where do you have to be in life to be passed away for months and no one has noticed? After my jaw dropped and my heart ached for this woman, I began to wonder what her life must've been like. A few days of neighbors talking and stories developing led us all to understand that this 50 year old woman battled mental illness and a drinking problem. She was estranged from her adult children and husband and had apparently given up on life, friends, family and faith and just sort of existed alone in her battle until she either took her own life or simply faded away.
Even writing this brings me to tears because had I known someone was actually living there, I would've tried to help. I would've encouraged her to get help, to find a a tribe of women to support her, to remind her that dark times come but that the light also shines again.
Wherever you are right now, please make sure you have at least one person that knows you, that cares, that notices when you don't respond, that notices when you are down and alone. Find your person, your people, your strength in numbers and don't ever sit in the darkness for too long.
Be well. Reach out. xoxo. Coach Kim