When I awoke this day, it was to the sound of sirens and doors opening and closing. This is not normal activity to hear on an early Saturday morning in our neighborhood. Flashing lights penetrated the blinds and drew me out of bed to see what was happening. Out the window and across the street I saw a firetruck. My first instinct was someone must have burnt some toast and failed to disarm their fire alarm before the firefighters showed up. That was, until I noticed the ambulance in the driveway of a house nearby, and it wasn’t leaving.
Suddenly I was filled with concern for those with whom I had many pleasant conversations. I wondered for a moment if I should help or stay out of the way. I chose to stay out of the way. I sat at my bedroom window watching a flurry of activity below concerned about the family whose home was being filled with strangers. Two more paramedic vehicles showed up followed by three police cars. I knew instantly that something terrible had happened and looked on, I was wondering who would be removed from the home and under what circumstances. My initial suspicion was that some sort of incident may have happened between the normally happy couple. At least that is how I always perceived them, but experience has taught me that you cannot always truly trust your initial perceptions.
This state of uncertainty drove my curiosity to continue gazing out my window. I watched as the firefighters debriefed at the bottom of the driveway before driving away in the firetruck. Shortly afterward one of the paramedic vehicles packed up its gear and left. I anticipated that some clue would be forthcoming to assist me in understanding what was happening. I continued to monitor the situation from within my home. My mother-in-law asked me around this time if I could move my car from the driveway. She had been waiting respectfully and patiently until most of the vehicles had already left. At the same time some police officers were coming down the driveway making their way to the car that was preventing her from attending her appointment.
Still not sure what type of situation unfolded I sauntered down my driveway and approached the police car with the officers inside. I asked them if there was anything I could do to help provide support to the people who lived inside, to which the office calmly looked me in the eye and answered, “not today”. I asked if it was possible to move my car, so my mother-in-law could attend to an appointment and offered them a space to park on the other side of our driveway. The officer politely indicated they were just about to leave but the gesture was appreciated just before they pulled away.
The occasional back and forth of a paramedic from the house to the ambulance transpired, and then the forensics team arrived. My stomach turned, and my heart sank knowing the arrival of this specialized unit meant grim circumstances within the walls of this neighborhood home. My mind raced in a dozen directions once again wondering what could have possibly taken place. I watched on, unable to tear myself away from the curiosity that lingered inside. I contemplated which member of the household would emerge and the different circumstances that might reveal themselves. I watched on as the daughter of the people within this home and her husband were escorted out of the house by two officials. Two more people I did not recognize carried away the youngest child of the daughter and her husband. My bewildered mind reminded of the years I watched this young lady come of age and move on in life was not sure how to interpret what I was seeing. A dark grey and black van arrived, from it emerged two men in black carrying blankets into the home. Clearly a fatality had occurred, and I wondered which of one of the two who own the home remained, if any remained at all. Again, sadness took hold of me thinking of the many conversations I had shared with these delightful people. I began to contemplate how I might assist or support whoever may still be alive.
It was when the men dressed in black returned from the home that my heart broke completely, and tears began to run down my face. I saw one of these men carrying the lifeless body of a child from the home, delicately wrapped and placed in the van. At that moment I recalled a joyous conversation with one of the people who live there regarding the birth of their grandchildren. The pride and happiness they shared with me was the same as my own for my children. Realizing the child carried from the home was approximately the same age as one of my own children only drew forth the tears that much more. I imagined the heart wrenching pain being felt in our neighborhood that day. I turned away from the window, staring blankly at the floor until my daughter came to me and asked, “are you ok daddy?” To which I was thankfully able to respond to her, “yes I am, but it is a sad day for someone else, and I just want you to know how much I love you.” She smiled at me and gave me a hug, one that in my mind could not be long enough.
Pondering the event and the impact that it brought to our neighborhood these tragic circumstances bring to mind the following:
- Intuitively contemplating a variety of potential circumstances or possibilities without having a complete understanding of the situation reminds me of some advice I provide often to others. “Pay attention to your intuition, it reminds us of what we have already learned; but make sure you double check your perceptions to ensure your decisions are not clouded with bias formed from your past experiences.”
- Approach situations from a point of curiosity not predefined judgement. “If you practice patience then the truth will reveal itself so long as you remain open to receiving it.”
- Appreciate the time you are given with what you have in front of you, because you can never be sure how long such moments will last.