She sits at the kitchen table, legs crossed at her ankles, face covering her wrinkled face, with no clue when she will get the strength to take her next breath. Her husband paces from the kitchen to the car outside, unable to sit, figuring being busy can trick his mind from the reality he’s now living in.
Just a few hours ago the tiny side street was slammed with police, fire, and paramedics trucks. The neighbors peeking out their windows to see what all the fuss was about. But now, all that remained was a detective sitting on the front steps, the old man and his wife, and their lifeless daughter at the top of stairs.
The old man and his wife knew in their hearts this day would come. They fought to keep her here, constantly finding her a new place to stay when she was kicked out of apartments or fought with the latest boyfriend. Finally, buying her a house to stay in. They had made lots of money from very successful careers. Figuring that maybe a place of her own would give her a chance after her latest rehab. A nice tiny side street in a good town. They would check on her constantly, bringing her food, cutting the grass and just praying this change would be the one she needed. The change that made her life click into place. But, they knew, deep down, they knew this is how it would end.
The detective checked in on them, asking if they needed anything and gave them an idea of where she would be taken and how long it would be before the coroner arrived. She never moved her hands from her face, but the husband nodded and thanked the detective. He finally sat next to his wife, but never really could find the words to say. He wondered what poetic thing he could say to maybe comfort his wife. The words never came so he just rested his hand on her shoulder. The weight.
Then, in what felt like both 10 minutes and 10 years at the same time the coroner pulled down the side street. The detective walked back into the kitchen and told them this was not something they should watch. He knew from many years of experience that this was the part that most couldn’t handle. Seeing a loved one, whether they lived a full, happy, incredibly special life, or died young, being carried out in a bag wasn’t something anyone was ready for. They decided to stay butwould wait in the kitchen and not watch.
The coroners got out of the truck, tossed their cigarettes to the ground and entered the house. They did all their checks, completed all the paperwork required and bagged up a 40-year-old woman. Another overdose to them, but to the older grey-haired couple in the kitchen, their entire world. The couple heard the door close in the truck and couldn’t stop the tears from flowing down their faces onto the table. The husband peeked out of the window and watched the truck turn onto the main road. He grabbed his wife’s hand and helped her up out of her chair. He turned off the light as they made their way outside, then he locked the door and grabbed his wife’s hand, again thinking about saying something, anything, but the words just never came. He started the car and they drove away.
So, this is a true story that happened on my street a couple Friday’s ago. My drug addict neighbor overdosed. As a Dad, with two teenage girls, I HATED this girl, her Mom and Dad, and all the addicts that would stop over to buy or sell drugs. She was a nightmare. The police were a constant presence on my tiny side street. I feared leaving my kids home alone because of how unstable this person was. If we are being completely honest, when I spoke with a neighbor the night all this happened, I did a little dance of joy. I’m not proud of it, I’m not, but as a Dad, a husband, and a homeowner I was happy my life would get the slightest bit easier. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t know, I want to believe everyone in my shoes would feel the same, but maybe you are just a better person than me, you wouldn’t be the first or the last to be able to claim that. My youngest daughter and her friend even had a name for her, they called her “Metheny”.
We actually were out when the police came to the neighbor’shouse that Friday. But we have a small street. News travels fast and I got a call from one of those neighbors. He was telling me about all the action so stayed on the phone until we found out she passed. So, we drove home. In case anyone needed us, neighbors or police, or whoever. Everyone on the street knew we had cameras at the house, so we wanted to be home in case any of that footage was needed. Plus, I’ve been watching and listening to a million murder mysteries, so I wanted to watch the footage like it was the Zapruder film. Analyzing every frame to catch foul play or a killer.
The kids all drifted to sleep while my wife and I watched the drama unfold from our living room window. I made a few jokes, as I do in uncomfortable situations. My wife does too, which is one of the many reasons I love her, but this night, this wasn’t the time. As I peeked over, I could see the despair. I could see both Mom and Dad struggling in every sense of the word. We watched as the coroners carried her out in a bag and it was honestly something, I wish I didn’t see. There is no dignity in that, and we all, for the most part, go out that way, in a fucking bag. My wife said, “I never want to be those parents” and she had perfectly summed up the entire night.
I guess what I’m saying while I selfishly had my own thoughts about this night, I got to see two parents who just lost their entire world and I again was reminded just how precious this life really is. I don’t have any real poetic way to end this story, just as Dad didn’t, so I will just say…