All There Is

My neighbor died this morning.

I met her when I first moved in. She introduced herself and said she’d moved in a few months prior. Not long after I moved in, a man showed up at her place. She mentioned when we passed on the sidewalk that we’d be seeing him around.

Unless I’m at work, where it’s my job, I’m not an outgoing person. I keep to myself. A few other dog owners in my neighborhood have been friendly, and the distraction of puppies being cute makes it easier to stand around with strangers without being awkward. Generally, though, I go from the car to my door without interacting with people.

A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor came to our door asking for help. The guy she was living with was hurting her. That guy was standing behind her. Her arm was bleeding. We helped her into the house and closed the door on the guy when he tried to come inside.

The police came. Fire department and EMTs. The police interviewed Tim and me, and we told them what happened. Then they told us that there would be more people coming over soon, including domestic violence specialists and hospice workers.

My neighbor had been in hospice care for weeks. She was 54 years old.

The police arrested the guy. We had heard from her phone conversation with the police that he had weapons. Guns and knives. He had hurt her before. She’d kicked him out before. She’d gotten back together with him before. Then kicked him out.

The police helped our neighbor back to her apartment. We gave her our phone numbers. Checked on her the next day. Her friend came over. We learned more information about her illness, her entanglement with this guy.

She died today. Early this morning. Her friends and family have been with her the last few weeks. She was not alone, finally. She wasn’t in fear of the guy who kicked and hit her and made her bleed. He was in jail, and she was surrounded by friends.

She had a few weeks of peace. She found enough strength to open her door, walk across the sidewalk, and ask for help. That she could bring herself to do that at that moment is a miracle, given how weak she was. She saved her own life, even knowing there wasn’t much of it left, with that one act. That tiny, enormous step she took on her own behalf.

He’s still in jail. We check on his custody status every day. We’ve been assured he won’t be coming back to live next door, but I am still watchful.

Today, Tim and I each received a summons to appear in criminal court concerning that guy.

The same day she died.

All we have is each other. I have Tim, he has me. We have our children. Nothing in this world matters except that they know I love them. All there was for my neighbor at the end was the love of her family and friends. She found a way to get that love back into her life before the end.

That love–that’s all there is. That is all there is.

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