“I just want to meet my neighbors.”
I wrote the above quote on Monday morning in my blog post. I love how the Universe responds to our requests, prayers, and/or needs.
Monday was a holiday for our office staff, but as a visitor center, we really needed to be open. Since I am alone – without family in the area, I offered to work by myself so the rest of the staff could enjoy the day off.
Early in the afternoon I got a phone call from a woman, I will refer to her as Jackie, in Arizona who was concerned about her friend who lives here. She explained that her friend, who I will refer to as Emma, doesn’t have a telephone and hasn’t sent her the usual cards and letters. Jackie was worried that something might be wrong and felt that I could help because she thought Emma was living in a city-owned apartment. Since I’m new to the area and work for the county, I gave her the city office phone number.
Jackie called back and sounded panicky. The city offices were closed for the holiday, so she wanted the phone number for the police department. I gave that to her, along with my cell number and told her not to worry, that if she couldn’t find help, I would personally go to Emma’s apartment if she could provide an address. Within a couple of minutes Jackie called back. There was no answer when she called the police and rather than checking if she dialed the number correctly, I asked if she had Emma’s address so I could check on her. She did.
I went to Emma’s apartment and found that it was just a block away from where I live. I was going to meet a neighbor.
I knocked on the door a couple of times before a woman asked who I was. “Are you Emma?” I asked. “Yes.” She answered and cracked the door open. I told her that Jackie was worried about her and called my office. Emma asked where I work and I told her the Office of Tourism. She said, “That’s odd, isn’t it? Why would she call there?”
Emma opened the door and invited me in. I called Jackie on my cell phone and handed it over to Emma and heard her tell Jackie that she wasn’t feeling well and that she didn’t even decorate for Christmas.
When Emma got off the phone she started to tell me about her life. She was from Arizona and left after graduation, met a man and spent over 30 years with him before he left 10 years ago. She told me that when he left, the friendships they shared together ended. “Can you imagine?” she asked. I shook my head and said, “As a matter of fact, I can.”
She told me that she has no family in this town and she’s lived here on and off for 30 years. Again she asked, “Can you imagine? I’m alone and have no family here.” Again I responded, “As a matter of fact, I can.” She looked puzzled and asked, “Are you alone? You have no family, either?” I told her I was and that I don’t. She then pulled out a little tin box with trinkets and showed me pictures from high school of her and her brother.
A little weird…like my Trinkets in a Wooden Box….
Emma told me that she fantasized about going to a cave and burying herself in it so that she couldn’t see the world. She shared that she has problems sleeping and has two bottles of pills she could take to end it. I told Emma that I understood and asked her to not do that. I wrote down my name, address, and phone number and told Emma to use the emergency phone her neighbor gave her to call me if she needs anything or feels that way again. I left Emma, knowing I would check on her later in the week.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:31, The Bible, KJV
“Am I going to end up like her?” I wondered. “No.” Emma closed herself off to the world and I keep getting up in the morning, out of bed, dressed, and back into this thing called life. It’s why I started coffee shop cruising – because it allows me to be around people, even if I sit in my own private world.
I’ve learned to love myself as myself and alone and somehow my experiences in life might be what helps me to be more compassionate of others. As I grow and understand things, I realize that this is a cycle – being more compassionate of others helps me to be more compassionate and forgiving of myself.
*I will be leaving for a couple of months or longer and know that I will not be here for Emma. This is where Relief Society (RS) will probably step in to help, once I get Emma’s permission. Maybe I didn’t receive the “welcome” from them I had hoped for, but maybe I didn’t need it. Their efforts and community are better served with the Emma’s of the world.
This is the kind of thing RS does – they help those in need in the community. Last October I met a woman who lived in Parowan and was dying of cancer. I took her to lunch one day and was impressed when I found out that the local women in RS took turns checking in on her and helping her with daily tasks, even though she wasn’t Mormon.