A few months ago, our next door neighbor, a woman in her mid to late 60s, was diagnosed with lung cancer. We told her to let us know if she needed any help. We had helped her with her weekly trash pick up when she'd had an injured foot a few months earlier. She was always quiet and kept to herself; not very social, but very nice to us. She gave us an amaryllis for Christmas. We gave her homebaked cookies. This winter, some family came up from the Southwest to care for her. She spent over a month in the hospital and came home earlier this month. Her family returned home last week.
Last Sunday I took her to the pharmacy to pick up her meds. For someone about to undergo chemo, she looked pretty good. In fact, had I not known she'd been hospitalized for a month and some change, I'd've not known anything was wrong. We chatted and enjoyed the sunshine in the car and griped about the health insurance industry in this country screwing people over. She asked if Honey and I wouldn't mind helping her with her trash and some small odd errands while she underwent chemo for the next few months. Of course, I agreed. This evening, I called over to ask if she was ready for me to pick up her trash. No response. I didn't worry much; I figured after a week of chemo she was probably napping.
Apparently I wasn't the only one who got no response from calls to her house. Within an hour of my calling her house, several police cars arrived, as well as an ambulance. After they entered the house, they sent the ambulance back. There was no need to transport someone who didn't need saving. She was gone. We were as helpful as we could be to the cops, providing what next of kin information we had. Her family will be up here soon.
I had planned on drilling into my thesis this evening, and Honey had planned on doing work work. But after that, we were so unfocused, we both decided to just watch TV. And now, despite the Benadryl I took I can't get to sleep. I think there's something about knowing the house next to use is empty tonight. Sadly empty.
We liked her. We weren't close to her by any means, so our moroseness isn't rooted in intimacy. But death is inherently disconcerting. I expected this would happen at some point; just not so soon after her return from the hospital. I'm beginning to wonder if 2007 is going to be a little like 2005: a multiple funeral year. My grandfather has been knocking on Heaven's door for about a year, but he's been yanking on Heaven's bell-pull for about 2 months now. I'm hoping he hangs on through summer when we plan on visiting, but I suspect if he makes it to 2008 at all, he'll pass early.
I do hope to go to her funeral. I want to say goodbye. To leave the departure this way, conversations with cops and the eventual condolences to her family, is so unfinished. I hope she that she didn't suffer much, that it wasn't painful that death has brought her healing and respite. My prayer is that she is at peace and that death came as a friend. Also that Honey and I can be there for her family as they grieve and manage her estate in the coming months, if and when they need us, however they need us.