Two Sudden Deaths


His garage was next to mine, holding a red mid-size car. He was not a happy man, rarely smiling. His wife was frail. When we passed one another in the hallway or driveway, he almost never said hello.

Yesterday he dropped dead.

I came home just as the ambulance pulled up to our apartment building. I thought little of it, not because I’m callous,  but because our building is filled with people in their 70s, 80s and even 90s. It’s not an uncommon sight and, thankfully, the resident is usually home again within a few days.

Last week a gorgeous husky dog, always out with his blond owner for walks on our winding, hilly suburban street also died suddenly and unexpectedly.

Which explained a circle of hushed women whispering yesterday in the hallway.

Our lives are shaped by pattern, routine, the known and familiar.

Faces become visual wallpaper, the normal everyday background to our lives. The ones we take for granted. The ones we can lose, as two of my neighbors just did, without warning, in minutes.

Today, two pieces of it — a beloved pet, a valued friend and husband — are gone, ripped away, leaving behind the shocked and mourning.

7 thoughts on “Two Sudden Deaths

  1. I’ve lived in the same house for thirty five years. Those decades transformed me from a young daddy into a man in his (low) mid-sixties. Death has been all around me. My neighbor Ray Espinosa, an accomplished artist preparing for a show, dropped dead over two years ago. He had become a good friend over the years. Almost exactly a year ago my wife’s youngest brother, beloved by all of us – the strongest link in our extended family chain – had a massive heart attack riding his bike and was probably dead before he hit the ground, alone on a cul de sac. My daughter bought me a book of obituaries a few years ago that was both poignant and funny. The neighbors have aged and all the original people have died. Houses have been sold, new families, new animals, new deaths. The incognito of death, the folks you waved to for years but barely knew, makes you pause, and then move on. Sorry for the loss in your space.

  2. You have a way with words and I loved “Faces become visual wallpaper, the normal everyday background to our lives. The ones we take for granted.” Very true, and I’m sorry for the loss that has happened around you. Where I used to live there was ambulances out so many times that they never came out with their sirens, but you could see the lights at night.

  3. Thanks, Sarah and Diana. I did not especially like this man but I was very accustomed to his presence so the idea that his car sits next door to mine….while he is so suddenly gone…is very odd indeed. His poor wife just got home from hip surgery and hospital rehab. She must be in such shock.

    1. Thanks. Indeed…I think, unless someone is very seriously ill…i.e. we know they are dying….we just think death is out there somewhere, but never in our lives. I feel quite shocked by this week’s events and it is a powerful reminder to be as loving to the people in our lives as possible. We never know when death will claim us.

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