A few weeks ago,
on a Monday morning . . .
I stood at the window, a coffee cup cradled in my hands, staring at the neighborhood. Things were abnormally quiet for a sunny summer day. The birds chirped happily from the branches of the tree in my front yard and squirrels chased each other around its trunk. Both oblivious to the tension. The neighborhood dogs were silent, a relief from their mournful howling that began last Thursday evening and didn’t stop until 1 a.m. Sunday morning. All the other houses up and down the street felt subdued, only the occasional dark shape of someone looking out a window showed there was life inside the homes.
That Fateful Sunday . . .
The neighborhood woke and discovered it wasn’t a normal lazy weekend morning. I was making a pot of coffee when my mom anxiously called to come look out the window. When I peered out the basement window there were three sheriffs cars, two unmarked cars, a Crime Scene Unit truck, and three Animal Control Vehicles. It wasn’t long before the cops noticed the neighborhood stirring. They strung crime scene tape from the blue house, across the road, up the hill past two houses, back across the street, around a neighbor’s mailbox and then diagonally across their yard back to the blue house. A few minutes after that a fire truck and an ambulance arrived adding to the chaos. A detective went door to door asking if we’d heard or seen anything unusual. He wouldn’t tell us what had happened except to say they had arrested the man who owned the home early Sunday morning.
Standing at the window Monday morning my mind’s eye replayed the sheriff officers, animal control officers, detectives, CSU officers, EMTs, and even firemen coming and going from the blue house all day. Despite the quiet of the morning, I felt unsettled and disturbed. Coffee in hand, I returned to my desk. It was time to work. I sat staring at the blinking cursor on my laptop screen. Write, write, write, it said. But my mind was too uneasy. Local news trucks began showing up at the blue house early in the afternoon. The five o’clock news explained what had happened over the weekend. It was odd listening to them speak without any emotion about events that had changed lives and a neighborhood. The cops arrested the man who owned the house early Sunday morning. He had confessed to killing two teenagers who had tried to extort money from him with a video of him propositioning one of them for sex. Now I knew things at that house weren’t on the up and up, the neighborhood knew, the cops knew. But I know I wasn’t ready to hear there was a murderer living a few houses away.
Accepting The Changes
The rest of the week was different. Kids stayed inside. People went to work, but no one did anything outside. News trucks came and went. The CSU officers returned a few times. It was over a week before the neighborhood returned to its normal rhythms. Seeing that house on the news every evening was disturbing, a reminder that nothing is certain. I’ve watched other news stories play out, but I never considered what it was like for the neighborhood whose world was abruptly and tragically altered. It’s taking me a long time to sort through my feelings, I’m still working on it.
The kids are back in school. Because of the drought Colorado is enduring, most of the yards are struggling to survive, even the recent rains haven’t brought them back. Several of the trees are beginning to turn yellow and lose their leaves almost a month early. Perhaps it means we’ll get more snow this winter. I hope so.
Making The Most Of The Seasons
I often gaze out the window thinking about how fast the year has gone by. It’s been marked by many routine events and a few moments of importance. When I was a kid, the summers seemed to stretch forever. There was plenty of time to play with the neighborhood kids, read, draw, swim, play at the park, have picnics, and ride bikes. Once school began it took years for Thanksgiving to arrive and an eternity existed in the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now the year flies by at a speed that, as a kid, I wouldn’t have imagined possible. It is almost September. How did that happen?
Everyone goes through this, it isn’t unusual. My mom assures me that the speed continues to increase each year. What does it mean?
It means that I must make time for important things and the seemingly little things. Because before I blink another month will pass by. I want to put my energy into the activities that make life good. There will always be chores and day-to-day distractions. There will always be bad times. Fortunately the drama doesn’t last and life regains balance. The tragic events of that weekend will stand out in my memory for a long time; what else from this year will?
Living my life with love and laughter becomes more important to me with each passing year, month, week, and day. Seasons roll by so fast they blur and merge into one vague memory. I’m making a promise to myself to play with our dog and cat, visit with my niece, and spend time doing things I enjoy and that make me a happier, healthier, better person. Will you join me? I hope so.