Thankful Thoughts: Neighbors

Thankful ThoughtsI had a hard time writing thankful thoughts about my neighbors today.  In some ways, it’s still too real and too raw.  But the real and raw feelings make for the best writing sometimes.

I love my neighborhood.  The houses are all mid-seventies era homes, surrounded by huge trees and gently aging landscape.  There’s nothing pretentious going on here – just real people living honest lives.  We’re a mixture of retired couples, young families, and middle of life families.  There’s a few boomerang groups with multi-generational families all crammed together in a jumble of generations.  The colors of our faces are the calico of America, a big patchwork quilt of diversity.

But we aren’t your average street.

We actually chat with each other on Facebook.  We have each other’s email addresses and phone numbers.  We’ve been known to scold each other’s kids.

We’ve shared meals and supplies during the aftermath of hurricane Ike.  We’ve had block parties and coordinated garage sale schedules.

I’ve cared for my neighbors chickens and gently led her dog back home.  She’s fed our turtles and cleaned up our wounded cat.

It’s an amazing street.

Two weeks ago, one of us lost her life in a car accident.  She was a single mom and left two junior high kids behind.

A little part of me just curled up in a ball to type that.  Somehow seeing the words in black and white makes it more real and even more horrible.

The mom in me aches at the details.  The kids were alone when the police car arrived.  The police couldn’t tell them what was wrong or why they were there.  In the end, it was one of us – one of the neighbors – who sat numbly and had to tell the kids.

It was one of us.

In the end, it was one of us – one of the neighbors – who helped the kids pack their things as CPS came to collect them.

It was one of us – a neighbor – who handed the house key to out of state relatives we’d never met before.

It was one of us – one of my neighbors – who cleaned out the refrigerator and took out the trash when the family left to make arrangements for the out of state funeral.

A part of me cringes.

In the months to come we’ll see the home emptied and a house put on the market.  We, the neighbors, will watch eagerly to learn who will join our little community.  We will watch and wait until the house becomes a home once again.

But for the time, the house will sit empty like the empty spot where a loose tooth once was.  A glance at the dark windows is enough to bring back the horror and the hurt.   We stand in the street and quietly console each other.  But the “what if’s” are too much.

Today at least, the house is a home again.  For a brief time, the family is here, sorting through the aftermath and trying to make sense of it all.  As neighbors, we are doing what we can.  We’ve baked brownies and delivered vegetable soup.  We’ve arranged for the grass to be cut and removed the daily barrage of newspapers from the yard.

What if our street was not our street?

I’m intensely aware of how different the story would have been if our street was not our street.  I’m keenly aware of just how much the the neighbors have helped make the unthinkable and unbearable thing less bad.  In our own small ways we’ve made gentled the harsh edges of the horror.

I’ve lived in other neighborhoods.  I’ve lived in the spaces where I didn’t even know people’s faces, just the cars that they drove.  I’ve watched people disappear and homes become houses without ever knowing why.  I’ve lived where there was no one who would notice an unexplained explosion of weeds and newspapers – or care.

And I’m so thankful.

I’m thankful to live where my neighbor kids “borrow” the bug spray left on my front porch.  I’m thankful to live where my neighbors knock on my door to deliver a pie.

I’m thankful to live where people know my name.

 What are you thankful for today?

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Houston Mom Blogger Susan Baker has a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood. She has two elementary school boys, one engineering husband, and one cat. She has a strange fascination  for eggs, socks, and books.  She spends far too much time on Social Media and at Target. She is crazy in love with her family.  She serves an amazing God.   She lives an ordinary life filled with wonder. [/author_info] [/author]
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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. what a wonderful place to live in!! Unfortunately, we live in a university area so there is a constant turnover of people. We do know one or two of our neighbors, who are retired, but the rest are all transitional!
    Roshni recently posted..Co-sleeping Part 3My Profile

    • I’ve lived in those kinds of communities where things are transitional. It’s hard. The fun thing was always watching the antics of the young single university people – always made me thankful I was past that phase of my life. 🙂

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