Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Neighbor

Lisa Earle McLeod has a column about suicide in today's Buffalo News. She deals mainly with the legacy that devastates immediate families. I'd like to go a step further regarding the person who didn't marry, didn't have kids. Other people are still affected and are left try to deal with the mind-numbing senselessness of it all.

My neighbor John was the all around handyman of the block. He was the first person everyone called when something needed fixing, and he always had a smile on his face. About a month ago he hung himself.

To say that we all were shocked beyond belief is understating it. Apparently he'd had some legal problems initiated by tenants, but still...Useless speculation wonders if alcohol played a role in irreversible decision making.

It seems so incredibly selfish to say that everywhere I look in this house I see something he had fixed or something that he had yet to get around to. The Sunday night before he had called to tell me he'd be picking up some leftover parts the next day that were still in my kitchen. He said he'd been "under the weather" for a few days. Then his girlfriend called Monday night to see if he had shown up (no). She sounded worried "It's not like him..." before she cut herself off.

Then we got the news. It still messes with my head a bit. I can't imagine the emptiness felt by all of his many close friends. I can't imagine how his girlfriend must feel, especially since she was the one who found him at his cottage retreat. "My girl" he always called her. They were going to get married.

For me to call him a friend might be pushing it, but yet the term 'acquaintance' seems so cold. Somewhere in the middle, someone who was part of my life and part of the fabric of the neighborhood.

The now-vacant house on the corner looms large, seen every time we enter the street. I'm sure I'm speaking for all when I say that we wish John could've forced himself to see the stress through. We all miss John's presence in our lives.

So long, neighbor. So long, friend.

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