keenchick

Stories and thoughts about family and life

Forgotten

on March 8, 2014

As my sister and I exchanged e-mails yesterday, discussing our weekend and me requesting for her to watch my kids for a couple of hours, I honestly didn’t give much thought to anything else. Wrapped in a little bit of my selfishness, I suppose, I worked at planning my Sunday to make a visit to a friend I haven’t seen in a very long time. It’s not his fault or mine, but he’s in a difficult place (both figuratively and literally), and I really wanted to make the effort to spend time with him. I didn’t realize how much of an impact that would make on me until I received my sister’s reply. I had responded to her e-mail and was waiting on a response from her, which took quite a bit longer than usual. When I saw her response, I was sitting stuck in traffic (something I did a lot yesterday, for some reason), so I just took a quick glance. It wasn’t until I had put my phone down and was headed down the interstate that the words hit me:

“sorry for the delay. I just heard that a girl I used to know was found in her garage yesterday. She’s been dead for six years.” As I was driving down the interstate, I began to realize I couldn’t possibly have read that correctly. Surely it read more like something happened that made her think of her friend who died six years ago, or they lost touch six years ago and she died yesterday. Yes, surely that was it. When I spoke to my sister and asked for clarification, she said the story was airing on the national news. And, yes, the girl was just found and yes, they believe she died approximately six years ago. I sat, stunned for a minute. How does that happen? As my sister and I discussed what had gone on in the news and the various interviews, it turns out she had over $60,000 in her bank account, and all of her bills were set up to auto-pay, so it wasn’t until she ran out of money and her house went into foreclosure that they found her.

I asked the obvious questions (to me, anyway). Does she not have any friends or family who wondered where she was? Did no one find it odd that she didn’t show up for work? This sounded like a bizarre episode of CSI or the Mentalist. How is it that absolutely NOBODY thought about her being missing? Didn’t her mail back up? Didn’t anyone ever once show up at her door, and then wonder why no one ever answered? The news article said she was a loner and she didn’t communicate with anyone. I know from her working with my sister before that she traveled for work some, and apparently she had left her job, approximately six years ago. My sister hadn’t spoken to her in nearly a dozen years. She had a neighbor who was faithfully mowing her lawn, and apparently the only relative with whom she still had ANY contact had occasionally tried to call her but “her phone would just ring.” Since she had cut so many other people out of her life, probably no one thought much of her disappearance, and that sad fact resulted in her dying in the back seat of her car, in her garage and not being found for SIX YEARS.

As I rested in bed last night, I thought of that whole situation. Six years. 72 months. 2,190 days. In six years, I’ve had two babies move from being toddlers to being tween and teenager. In six years I’ve completely changed paths in my professional life, and started a business. In six years I’ve finished my college degree, been hospitalized once, traveled internationally four times, taken three cruises and driven well over 100,000 miles. The experiences I’ve had in six years are virtually countless. Experiences that were robbed of this young lady, regardless of her personality, work experience, etc. Even worse, to know that she has spent six years in the back seat of her car, with the seasons passing by, and no proper burial, no mourners. It saddens me beyond belief to think that this girl was forgotten, in every sense of the word. What if her house and car had been completely paid off? The worst that might have happened is her utilities would eventually have been disconnected and maybe the next time her sister called her she would have received a “disconnect” message. I can’t imagine what a depressing, sad existence this young lady must have had, that she had absolutely NO one who cared or was close enough to her to question where she had gone. It breaks my heart, and I didn’t even know the girl.

When you stop and think about what that period of time represents, it boggles the mind. I have friends that I may not see or talk to every day, week, or even month. I have a few that we connect a couple of times a year. Regardless, I know that I am loved and would be missed by someone eventually. I would hope it would be pretty quickly, but even if it weren’t, it wouldn’t take too long. That gives me more comfort now than I ever imagined it could. I used to get irritated with my mother, who wanted to know when I was on the road–wanted me to call when I left and again when I got home. Luckily, as I’ve aged and have children of my own, I’ve realized those insecurities myself. Even now, I make a point of calling my parents when we’ve had bad weather so they know I’m alright.

It makes me think of the people in our lives we take for granted. The ones who are just there when you call or write. The ones whom you might see occasionally throughout the year, but might not receive much attention otherwise. The elderly ones, the ones who are struggling with some illness or injury, or the ones who just might not have a friend. I’ve been blessed in my life to be surrounded by so many wonderful people, for that I am truly grateful. I hope each and every one of them knows how important they are to me.

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