My husband looked alarmed. He had answered the phone and I could tell by his facial expressions that this was no ordinary call. OK, OK, I’ll be right there.
He hung up the phone. That was my dad. He said someone is lying in the middle of the road to our neighborhood and he can’t get through. There’s a crowd and an ambulance. I’m going to see what’s happening. Wanna come with me?
Um, no. I am not the type that looks at the accident. I just drive past and curse all the psychos that want to peak at someone else’s horror. You go ahead. Let me know what happened.
Just a short time earlier I had driven into our neighborhood. It was a long day. I had to get home in time to take my son to his soccer game. The night before I was at one of those meetings that went on for too long and left me with a pounding headache that wouldn’t go away. I had gotten home way passed my kids bedtime and never got to hear about their days. I hate that. I live to hear about their days. Who did you sit by at lunch? What was your special today? What did you have for lunch? Did you pass your spelling test? I had no answers. So I needed to get home, be with my kids, get to the soccer game, and get the answers.
As I drove down the steepest hill in my neighborhood to round the bend to my house, I saw a young man and his dad jogging up the hill. I waved casually and they waved back. I wondered which house did they belong to? Was it the one on the corner or the one across the street? The one across the street had a slew of kids that were all homeschooled. The family on the corner moved in a few years ago, so I still considered them the “new neighbors.” I didn’t even know their names yet, only their dog’s name, Latte.
You see, I am the worst kind of neighbor. I am hermit-like. Non-friendly. Wave, but don’t talk. I don’t have parties or get-togethers. I kind of want to have a fun, social, neighborly experience, but I grew up in the city. It just wasn’t the norm. Stay to yourself. Don’t let people know what you have. Don’t let them in.
When I got home, my husband announced that the soccer game had been cancelled. Inclement weather -even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Weird. It was a welcome break. I could put on my PJs and relax.
And then the call. His dad was supposed to drop off the weed eater and he couldn’t get through. The road was blocked with emergency personnel and onlookers. I never even heard the sirens.
It was the jogger, wasn’t it? I just passed him on the road. His son was with him. God, he must have collapsed. Did his son even realize it at first? He had been running in front of him. What did he do? He must have been so scared. If I had only been a few minutes later, would I have seen him fall? Could I have done something? Or if the soccer game had not been cancelled, would we have found him and been able to help?
It haunts me. My neighbor with a doctor living just a few yards away and I couldn’t do a thing to save him. It haunts me that a man died today, a neighbor, and I never even knew his name.
Photo credit: Tijmen Van Dobbenburgh