I usually like to write about travels or adventures, but today I am feeling a slightly different turn. No pictures, nothing that funny…Honestly, this one is a bit depressing but that’s okay. Feel free to skip this one.
This past weekend, while at a bachelor party for my friend, I receive a frantic call from Kevin. The neighbor from across the street- the one that had just moved out with his family- was lying dead on his front porch. Kevin could see him. Why weren’t they covering up the body? It had been hours. Why weren’t they covering the body?
I didn’t even know his name.
Kevin later calls me back and he had pieced a few bits of the stories from the neighbors. A neighbor, we’ll call K, saw him on the porch in the morning. He and his painter thought something looked wrong, even though he had a pillow and a blanket. 911 says to perform CPR but it is way too late. Neighbor D’s wife up the street remembered that his 3 year old daughter had once before come looking for help because daddy had overdosed. He had been to rehab. They were getting a divorce, which is why they moved. The guy had 2 young kids and a sweet wife.
How could I have not known his name?
This morning, as I was pulling weeds out of the front yard, I see his widow pull up to their old house, driven by what I assume were either her, or his parents. She walks to the front stoop, and collapses crying across it. Sobbing, she lays there, draped in a way I can only imagine her dead husband was 48 hours before. I go inside so as to give them some privacy. I see through the blinds as each of them take a turn crying on the tiny porch, and as they search the yard for what I only assume is either car keys, or evidence of his demise.
I want to say something, give comfort, tell them it will be alright. But how can it be alright? A dread that this woman must have had all along, her sweet little curly haired daughter who drew chalk pictures on the driveway, now without a father.
His name. None of the neighbors knew it.
He was a young guy. Unpleasant and surly. Kind of a jerk if anyone tried to enter into conversation with him. But his family was amazingly kind and outgoing. I don’t grieve for him- I grieve for his family. That little girl who at such a young age had already gone through so much, and her infant sibling who should be learning to walk soon. What will their mom tell them?
I’m not sure why his story troubles me so much. It’s not my story. I wasn’t even a participant- merely an observer. Perhaps it is because it just shows you never really know what someone else’s story is or what sort of trials they are going through. It is so easy to be dismissive of someone with a drug addiction or someone who struggles with depression. All those dark demons that cling to everyone’s back to varying degrees. We watch and say things like “I would never…” or “they could’ve done…”.
But it is so easy for something like this to be you- or me.
It seems his last moments were to go to a place he ultimately felt safe- whether because he thought it was still home, or because he knew no one would have moved in yet. He drove and parked neatly on the parking pad, pulled out a pillow and blanket from the trunk of his car (it had been left open), and curled up to sleep his last.
I wish I had known his name.