Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Death of a Neighbor

Just the other day, I overheard people on my street talking about my neighbor passing away. After some speculation, I learned that she died while walking to the door of her apartment to go outside. Thankfully, the property management checked up on my neighbor regularly due to her limited mobility and bad health, so when she did not answer her phone, the manager went to her apartment, and then immediately called for an ambulance. She was already dead when they arrived. I had no idea what had happened until that afternoon, on the street in front of my apartment, from people I had never really spoken to before.

I checked on my neighbor periodically, especially since I knew she had no family to speak of. She had a friend who shared a taxi with her when they went grocery shopping, but was mostly a recluse. I often heard her shouting on the phone to someone associated with her health insurance provider, or to one of the many doctors she visited and complained about after the fact. When I spoke to my neighbor, it was usually in front of her door in the common hallway we shared, and she would talk incessantly about her many medical conditions. She was always going in and out of hospitals every other week, at least. It was the way she spoke and represented herself, which made me believe that her medical conditions were not as serious as she said they were. I proved to be wrong, of course.

My neighbor’s death and the glimpses of her life I witnessed before it ended remind me that while I continue to enjoy good health and mobility, I must continue to make each day count. Sleepwalking through life is not an option, which was what my neighbor did near the end of her life; of course her medical and psychological states contributed to her limitations. My goals are to make meaningful connections with others and stay open to a variety of experiences throughout my life, for however long that might be.

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