She Lives Alone

4 years ago

Some deep rumble, louder than a regular car engine, woke me before six this morning. I opened my eyes to see the reflection of flashing red lights from outside on my bedroom ceiling. Thinking it was a police car going up the street I got to my feet and put on my glasses to look outside. Surprised to find the engine rumble coming from the front of my unit, I went down to the living room to peer out at all the flashing lights. The EMT’s were removing a gurney from the back of an ambulance. Firemen without uniforms were following the EMT’s to a unit outside of my vision range. In the time it took to grab my robe, five people escorted the gurney to the ambulance. I vaguely recognized the woman talking to the emergency team as she was lifted inside and the doors quickly closed behind them. The ambulance remained another ten minutes, and through the door windows it appeared an IV was put in place. The vehicles pulled away.

I went to make coffee. I finally remembered the woman’s first name. She lives only three doors down from me but I met her only once when she was delivering a package that went to her address by mistake. I’ve waived to her as she has driven down the alley and I was putting out my recycle containers.

What a stealth-like operation that was. If I hadn’t been awakened by the engine I might not have known that anything had happened this morning in Unit A. She lives alone. I know she has a daughter who visits some. She lives alone. She was alone when she fell, or was awakened by abdominal pain, or chest pains, or whatever she was experiencing. She lives alone.

We are proud to be independent—to live independently. We are not that old, but yet we are not immune to falls or illness that threatens our independence. How brief. How quiet and efficient the team of rescuers entered her house and swept her away. I was relieved she was partially sitting up on the gurney and talking to those assisting her. I was relieved she was alive. Does she know the people living next to her? Were they aware of what was happening? She lives alone. I said a little prayer of thanksgiving for her being alive, and that maybe she’ll be home or with her daughter before the day is out. Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I’m thankful she is alive. I’m thankful I am healthy enough to live where I live and have, in the past year, opened my world to include a few more people who live very near me. I’m thankful for the growing sense of community developing among us. I realize I could do a better job reaching out to others like myself, who live alone.

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