It's currently 1:14am and I've been debating on writing this for hours. I have been extremely busy and I've had so many thoughts that I needed to get out but haven't "found" the time. Which is honestly pretty specific to the topic I'm about to ramble about. And as lighthearted as I try to be, I need you to understand, before you continue, that my heart is hurting and I'm about to be very candid with y'all. Some may consider this a trigger warning, so please proceed with caution.
Most of my work is done in my office area, with the exception of being outside to bleach shirts. This means that I'm very rarely in the front room of the house that looks out to the street traffic. As I mentioned before, I have been working nonstop so I definitely could be considered "oblivious" to what's physically going on around me in the sense of the neighborhood. However, today was different. It's Friday and I'm almost caught up on orders, so I decided to take an early weekend to sort of "decompress."
This afternoon, the dogs started barking, but not just the typical "hey mom, your Amazon packages are here" kind of bark. It was very obvious that they were on alert because of someone being outside. I looked out the window in every direction and spotted an unmarked police vehicle and an officer standing on the neighbor's porch. From what I could tell, he was waiting for someone to answer the door.
***I'm only adding this part because being genuine about these things also means explaining your thought process and what it becomes through grief.
My initial thought was to watch because my neighbor isn't Caucasian (protecting privacy), and we all know it isn't uncommon for some police officers to be aggressive towards people with darker skin. It felt like he stood there at the door for well over 15 minutes before someone finally answered. He went inside for a short time and then left. A few hours passed before I happened to glance over when getting a package off the porch and saw an unusual amount of cars. And then... it hit me.
I didn't want to speak it into existence. But I knew something happened to our neighbor. He wasn't okay and my heart knew it.
We've only been back in IL for about 7.5 months. We don't know all of our neighbors extremely well but we're friendly with everyone on our street. This guy in particular, along with this wife, have been the kindest people since the day we moved in. We had even shared neighborly banter in competition of landscaping. They have two of the most adorable, well behaved dogs, so it became a standing joke that our dogs were "in training" but not quite there yet. He's just genuinely one of those people that you can't dislike. And on a random Friday in July, he was ripped from this Earth - from his family, his friends - with no warning or explanation. Everything changed in an instant. I've known how precious life is and the gift of time for years, but you don't fully grasp that concept until you're faced with it.
Coincidentally, today marks 10 months since my father passed away unexpectedly. And, although I've never been married or lost a spouse, I've seen the pain my Mom goes through every day and I know the weight of my own grief. So, yes... of course I'm sick about the fact that one of the most genuine people I've ever met is gone too soon, but I can't deny how heartbroken I am to know that his absolutely distraught wife is laying over there in a dark, empty house with nothing but her thoughts, a ton of memories, and many questions that will never be answered. Agony. Heartache (the literal kind). Disbelief. Confusion. Anger. Guilt. And probably 137 other emotions that will hit her... before sunrise.
I know how her eyes will well up when she realizes he isn't there to answer questions about her car or how to maintain that beautiful yard he worked so tirelessly on.
I know the lump in her throat she'll get the first time she has to check the box that says "widowed" on her tax return.
Because they have no concept of time, I've seen, firsthand, how excited my dogs get when they see Dad's truck, so I can only imagine the nights their sweet babies will sit at the front door, as always, waiting for their Daddy to come home from work.
I'm familiar with the pit in your stomach each time the realization and permanence hits you.
She will replay every single detail of their last interaction, conversation, and this day. Over and over and over again, probably forever.
People will come and go. They'll bring food and come to the funeral and give condolences. And they will return to work and normal life, while she sits alone - feeling broken and wondering how her life will ever go on, because Lord knows it will never be the same.
I apologize for being this raw and emotional, but life is so insanely precious and so is the time we have with one another. As cliché as it may sound, we are never promised another day. Please treat people with kindness and respect. Spend time with the people you love. Don't let the little things bother you. Stop hanging up without saying "I love you." If it's petty, get over it. Live with purpose and leave an impact.
I probably spoke to my neighbor a handful of times, so I didn't know much about him personally. But, I can say, with confidence, that the mourning of this entire neighborhood over his loss speaks volumes about the type of man he was. Through the tears and empathy, it brings a smile, because I know how proud I am to hear about the marks my Dad left on this cruel world. She doesn't even know it yet, but someday, hearing testimonies about the impact he left on other people's hearts will be what sees her through some of the hardest battles of healing.
Tonight, I pray, in Jesus' name, over their family in this time of immense sorrow. May God place His hand on them as they send such a special person to his final resting place.