7/07/08 at 6:20 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

[Post originally written 7/2/08]


I’m still alive but my neighbor is not.

Kristal looked up something on the web last night and had her worst fears confirmed. A little over a month ago she had noticed our next door neighbor (KM) was spending a lot of time at home during the day and wondered if had been laid off from his job. He’s a single guy just a year older than us. He would have occasional visitors, and sometimes we’d hear loud music or see him drinking a beer while grilling a steak, but he was never a problem.

While we were friendly and would chat over the fence, we never got together socially. After we got back from vacation at the beach over Memorial Day, we noticed his truck (and him) missing and did not see his dog out. On June 5, while riding in the back of a pickup truck with his brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew (latter three in the cab) on the interstate in Virginia, he committed suicide by jumping out of the truck and being hit by a car.

A few weeks prior to June 5 KM had been let go of his job he had held for 23 years. Supposedly some words had been said (political?), and the arguments got to the point where he was fired. No warning, no suspension, just let go. There was no mention of prior incidents. KM was also three months away from being eligible for retirement. His parents live in the area, though his dad just had triple-bypass surgery a month ago. He also has a brother in the area and another up in SW Virginia.

As a brother, how much soul-searching do you do, trying not to replay that jump in your mind? The brother is angry and may sue the city as well as a doctor who prescribed a large dose of Xanax to KM. As a father, how do you explain what happened to your kid’s uncle, when they were there to witness the aftermath? As a neighbor, did I do “enough”? Did I love my neighbor – could I have made a difference?

KM was an Oriole’s fan, and I was looking forward to hollering at him when the Cubs played them a few weeks ago. Obviously that never happened. The houses in the neighborhood I live in are fairly well-spaced apart with big yards. The houses were built in the late 60’s, and some of the original owners are still living in them, probably until they die. We have not had any “block parties” or gatherings since we moved here 8 years ago.

KM’s house had a tumultuous past. An older black man and his son were living there when we first moved in, and there were many nights we heard them arguing after drinking. The son would walk to work when he had a job. Eventually he ended up in rehab, and we think the old man was sent to a retirement home. The house was vacant for a fairly long time. At first somebody came over to cut the grass, but eventually that stopped. Finally a real estate investor bought the house, refurbished it and “flipped it”.

We were hoping for a family with kids to move in, as there are not other kids in the neighborhood for ours to play with. While we were disappointed it was just a single guy who got the house a few years ago, he was an OK neighbor. It will probably take some time for the estate to be settled and the house prepped for sale, as well as just being able to sell the house in this depressed housing market. Once again we’re hoping for a good family with young kids. It’s a 3-4 BR house, so there’s a chance.

There’s no chance for KM, as he decided he had had enough. It’s difficult to say at what point anyone makes that kind of decision, but I suppose all of us have some line we don’t want to cross. What do we have to live for? The answer to that question determines whether or not we decide to hop off the truck.

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