Sorry, I really meant for this blog to be “light-hearted” and occasionally even snarky, but reality keeps invading.

Something really bad happened in my neighborhood a couple of days ago, and by bad, I mean multiple police cars, ambulance, crime scene investigation vehicle bad.

My neighborhood is the sort of place where people move in as young married couples, raise a family, and live the rest of their lives. When I lived here before, we’d seen an ambulance or two, responding to health emergencies of our elderly neighbors; sometimes successfully, sometimes not. A lovely older couple who lived across the street from me passed away while we were in California- they had lived in their home for over 50 years. When I heard the first siren, I assumed it was  another such situation. But the sirens didn’t stop.

Whatever was going on was taking place down the street and just around the corner- we could see the intersection was blocked off by a police car. Concerned, but not overly so, Dr. T and I went to lunch and errands. We grew more concerned when we came back an hour or so later and saw that the ambulance was no longer there, but an SUV marked “crime scene investigation” was.

(I probably shouldn’t admit this, but we don’t always lock our doors. Now I was wondering whether we’d been insanely naive. Not too long ago, Dr. T and I had been discussing how personal frame of reference impacts perception: coming from urban areas in California, we felt completely secure in our neighborhood, in contrast with our next door neighbors, from rural areas in neighboring southern states. They have an alarm system, and won’t sleep with their windows open.)

Of course I wanted to know what had happened, but why? Curiosity, certainly, but more than that- were we somehow at risk too?  It seemed wrong to bother the police on the scene, so we went about our business at home.

A while later, I noticed a neighbor two streets down was online. I messaged her: “any idea of what happened?” She replied that she didn’t have confirmation, but a young woman around our own kids’ age may have committed suicide. Completely at a loss for words, I responded that I guessed that there was no good answer to the question. She agreed, and we went back to our own business. Judging from the location of the emergency vehicles, I had some idea of where the trouble may have taken place. I knew there was a house where three sisters had lived. They were around The Kid’s age; they had swum in our pool when they were in elementary school.

When I realized that hoping it hadn’t been one of them meant that someone else had suffered, I stopped wanting to know anything else. But I wanted to know. I wanted to help and knew I couldn’t. And far from feeling safer, I felt more vulnerable.

I have walked up and down that street hundreds of times over the years. I have described it to other people as “the way everyone should be able to live.” It is a street with well-tended houses on generous lots, tame but wild. There are lawns and woods, birds and rabbits. There are no sidewalks. I still remember our first Halloween in the neighborhood: parents and children, with dogs on leashes, and the littlest kids being pulled in wagons, because the homes were so far apart. I told my friends in California that I felt like part of a Norman Rockwell painting. Nothing bad could ever happen on a street like that.

That night, I walked Waldo, but did not have the heart to go down that street. I don’t know if I will find out what happened, or to whom. I know I will go down that street again, but I can’t say when.