Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ashes to Ashes, Stuff to Stuff

She died a few weeks ago- the lady across the street. She gave the boys ridiculous amounts of Halloween candy. Her daughter-in-law once asked for a cup of milk for her oatmeal. And that is everything I know about her.

Name, face, loves, hates? Where is she now????? No idea. I wouldn't know her if she rose from the dead and made me a pie. But I'd eat the pie. Probably even if I knew it was ghost pie. Because pie's pie.

I watched through lace curtains. Dozens of police cars littered the "crime scene." She was, after all, over 90 and in terrible health. Family members were questioned as the dead was loaded in to a silent ambulance. I hurt for them, gawked at the wastefulness and intrusiveness of the state.

Once foul play was ruled out the neighborhood yawned, went back to watching kitties on YouTube. Because that's what we do now when violation occurs. As long as it's not happening to us. Then we throw a fit. A safe one that can't get us in any real trouble. We moan on facebook, text mean words with hot, angry fingertips. Thinking we're changing something by raising awareness.

Awareness is inactive. I am aware that the sky is blue, and so I... know that. I am aware that children are starving to death. Right now. But without a soft heart and courage knowledge doesn't equal action.

I did not have a soft heart for my neighbor. I should know her dadgum NAME. I could make excuses all day long. She kept to herself. They didn't return our waves. I've had medical problems. I am so busy with homeschooling and the children and work and blah freaking blah. The truth is- I was too comfortable to care. I was sitting on the couch, typing on my Macbook (the slow one that I keep bitching about) with a fully stocked fridge, the a/c set at 74. Or I was cleaning my stuff, rearranging my stuff, out shopping for more stuff.

The estate sale lasted for three days, the proceeds of which likely helped pay for her casket. How much time and energy did she spend on her stuff, most of which nobody wanted and has already been donated to Purple Heart? Less than me, I hope. You can't take it with you- It's a threadbare cliche. But you really, really can't. I stop praying for a stupid book shelf. Who can I love today?

Power saws sing, an ugly tuneless screech. The realtor in her smart little suit snaps exterior photos, heels sinking in the damp soil. Who will buy the house? I will know them.