On Community

I’ve been meaning to write up a new blog post for a while. Yesterday morning I threw something together about my recent trip to Las Vegas. It was cute, and a little funny, and maybe I’ll post it someday. The thing is, life intervened.

Last night my upstairs neighbor passed away. We weren’t particularly close, but it’s a small building (4 units total) – we said hello and have a good day to each other, and I always saw his cat, Buddy, meandering the building. The part that’s thrown me for a loop is that my neighbors and I found him.

I won’t get into the details, but I will give you a snapshot of the day. Buddy was making a big fuss, which led to Hyo checking the garage and finding John’s car, which led to Tom knocking on his door, then telling us to call an ambulance. Then the cascade started. The rest of the night was a blur of ambulances, police, firemen, the medical examiner, all asking questions again and again. Gaby was holding Buddy, I was hugging Hyo and texting Marcus, hoping he got those messages before he got on the bike home – no such luck. Then it was stricken landlords; us pleading with the M.E. and Animal Control to not take Buddy (this is his home, he’s always around, he’s old and not in the best shape, he just told us something was wrong) to no avail;  Marcus coming home to all of us on the second floor landing; me rushing to explain before the coroner got there…

There were hugs and tears, and jokes to fill the air. And while this all was happening I was okay. I’m my father’s daughter: in a time of crisis, I can handle things, make calls, comfort people. I was okay. I was fine.

Then I woke up this morning to a quiet apartment, and it all sort of hit me. I meditated and sat with my thoughts for a while, but in the end, I needed to reach out and talk to someone. And so I did. There were calls and texts and Facebook posts; I had lunch with a friend from college.

And that’s why I’m posting this.

This isn’t a story about me. It’s about community. No man or woman is an island. John wasn’t the most social person, but he had friends. And he had a whole apartment building of people who cared about him enough to ring the bell, knock on his door. He was kind and loved. He had a community. Me coping alone in an empty house, silently, didn’t make it better. But when I reached out to my community, they reached right back and held on.

That’s the lesson I choose to take away from this. No matter how alone you feel, you have a community. There are people there to love you and support you. Go through it alone if you want to, but not because you feel you have to. Open your arms and you will be held. Hurt, and you will be soothed.

You are not alone.

You are loved.

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