Thursday, January 20, 2011

Warm Blanket

Oh, I have a cold. Oh I had a doctor's appointment. Oh I have to go to the dentist tomorrow. Oh woe oh woe oh very woe.

Last night as I came home there was a minivan sort of a thing (a Windstar, I believe) parked on the sidewalk directly in front of the complex's entrance. Still there when the pup and I went to meet Kath and Bobby. Still there as we returned. My thoughts, of course, were uncharitable. I mean, I know the snow and ice are making parking dicey and that it's complicated to move things in and out of our little building cluster but parking a pretty big car on the sidewalk seems excessive.

As we got closer I could see a gurney being wheeled out under the iron arch. In the vain hope of reversing my hard hearted thinking I'd wondered, briefly, if the vehicle was an ambulette. There wasn't any logo on the side but what do I know in this age of bizarre medical and insurance rules and possibilities.

Just a car length away and I could see that whoever was on the gurney had a warm looking maroon blanket over them. In fact it was completely over them, right up over the face. So it wasn't an ambulette at all.

A lot of people live in my little group of buildings. More in my neighborhood. Nearly untold millions in my city. You see stuff like this. I've seen it in smaller towns, too. Not a stranger to how bodies get from place to place, life to death, death to the earth, sea and sky. The neighbor approaching from the other end of the block looked a little shocked but I wasn't really. I felt a little sad for the person carefully swaddled in that crimson blanket. Maybe I also felt a little relieved for them.

It didn't take long for me to start thinking about someone else, though. The funeral home gentlemen were alone with the body which means that someone else, maybe a few someones, were in an apartment looking at an empty space where someone they loved used to be.

Suddenly I didn't care quite as much about the dentist or the doctor or my ear or my brain or my job or my slightly cracked heart. This time I wasn't one of those people looking at that space. This time. I hope they were having a good cry, then a good laugh and then something really good to eat and drink. I hope no one was trying to steal the spotlight or manipulate the conversation or make the night harder. I hope they all said what they needed to say and heard what they needed to hear and slept well last night preparing for a long day of logistics today and in the few days to come.

People seem to think that this city is very impersonal. The truth of it is that I wouldn't have half so many glimpses into other people's lives - marital arguments on the subway, child-rearing in the park, friends bonding at the bus stop - if I lived somewhere else. When you keep your head up and your eyes open every minute here can be a lesson. (And you learn to put your head down when you can't process any more education for the day.)

Thank you to the neighbor under the blanket for bringing my day into the right light. Godspeed and good rest to you.


  1. Great post, Kizz. Keeps things in perspective when you see stuff like that. And you're so right about life being right in your face when you live here!

  2. shantielise12:55 PM

    Yes, great post. I just may be able to keep my perspective as I deal with a 99% possibility of having bedbugs and dealing with it while Audio Girl is away. As I watch my credit card bill inflate and I'm trying not to scratch, I'll think of this. And when I have to tell my temporary roommate (perhaps even more temporary then we had planned) about the big sitch, maybe I'll hand her a print of this post along with mattress covers and insecticide.

  3. I wish all of those things for that someone too.

  4. well told, so true, and thanks for sharing it with us. watched the van to funeral-home transfer a couple months ago with the boys, and hadn't thought how that was a city thing only too ... you don't get discreet back doors here. circle of life indeed, and blessings on whoever was watching and missing.

  5. I've said it before, and I'm saying it again; you can write.

  6. ~annie9:25 PM

    Thank you for this! It's just what I needed to read today even though it makes me miss really miss living in a big city. Get well soon!