Last week, I thought I overdid my prior weekend in LA and Orange County and needed an incredible amount of rest. Turns out I caught a nasty virus that caused 104 fevers, chest pressure, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, aches and pains and the most gravelly, miserable sounding voice ever. I wasn’t near death, but for five days I was dragging tail. I functioned as best I could, working every day, taking care of my family at bare minimum levels, but still plugging ahead. In the middle of my meltdown, on Thursday, my husband had a four-day trip planned to Southern California that couldn’t be waylaid due to my recoverable but miserable illness. Off he went and I dragged myself around to keep our lives on track.
On Saturday, my dear friend posted on Facebook that, after 4 days of not posting, if my hands weren’t broken, I should be blogging. Saturday I saw the light of recovery but with my energy levels so depleted, there was no way I could even think of posting on this blog. As the day progressed, I could feel the black cloud of death and despair leaving my body. Unfortunately, the cloud didn’t blow away, it only drifted to our oldest son and filled his life with misery. Caring for a sick person while you too are sick has to be one of the hardest things to do. He was going through the motions I just lived through and, at 12 years old, needed his momma and she was there for him.
On limited sleep due to nursemaid duties, I felt much better on Sunday. I cleaned, did laundry, cooked and pulled our lives together. Just in time as the two younger boys came down with the same illness. I took temperatures, applied cool cloths, dispensed medication and rubbed their sore achy muscles while juggling my chores. My husband finally (FINALLY) returned home mid-afternoon on Sunday and jumped into co-nurse action.
What a long week. What a ridiculously long week.
And that’s when our true near death experience arrived. Near death, as in near to us, as in directly across the street.
At approximately 7:15 PM Sunday night, while I loaded dinner dishes into the dishwasher and my husband sat at the kitchen table keeping me company discussing our upcoming schedules, cop cars, fire engines and an ambulance arrived on our street, in front of our house with policemen, firemen and EMTs running up our neighbors driveway. What just happened? Was there an accident? What’s going on? No sirens, just a full response to something and we weren’t digging near the gas lines. We watched from our windows, front row seats to the action. We thought our elderly neighbor had a heart attack. We have never been more wrong.
We learned, through the news and the police coming to our door, that six shots were fired from our neighbors, a home invasion robbery, leaving the husband dead on the scene.
Gun shots? We heard nothing. Less than 100 yards directly across the street and we heard not one shot. My dishwasher is loud, we weren’t paying attention, but, come on, gun shots are incredibly loud, how is it possible we heard nothing?
Through the night, Spokane’s Major Crimes was on the scene. K-9 units were released to track the suspect still at large. The police told us by bull horn to stay in our homes, lock our doors and cover our windows. At midnight, I went to bed, suspect still at large. Those are four disturbing words. Suspect. Still. At. Large.
We did not sleep comfortably Sunday night. We were frightened. We were disturbed by possibility of our home being attacked. Why them? Why not us? How would we respond? What should we do? What if I was travelling? What if my husband was travelling? Thousands of thoughts raced through our minds.
Yet life goes on. With sick kids, I was up at 2 AM and 4 AM addressing their fevers and hacking coughs. With each awakening, I peeked outside to see if there was any change in the action. As at midnight, at 2 AM there were hordes of policemen milling about the crime scene. At 4 AM, only Forensics remained on the scene.
When I awoke this morning at 6:30 AM and opened the shades and curtains, the paparazzi had arrived. Every Spokane news crew was on the scene. Within an hour, several cameramen and reporters knocked on our door in hopes of a statement or willingness to be interviewed. My husband and I, after first declaring today not pajama day, agreed early on to not give statements or agree to be interviewed. We really had nothing to say, nothing relevant. We heard nothing, we saw nothing.
The one thing we did know, is that we are looked after and loved by our new neighbors and friends throughout our neighborhood. Last night and today, every single person that has our phone number or email contacted us to make sure we were safe and to reassure us that we live in a safe neighborhood. They were as freaked as we were, never experiencing something literally so close to home as this before. Thank you, our Spokane friends, for your friendship, love, kindness and care.
Though the crime remains unsolved, we have learned that it wasn’t a random home invasion. Due to some business dealings gone awry, so the news reports, the suspect targeted, stalked and killed our neighbor. We don’t know why, and, really, we don’t want to know. Despite the reason, the murderous death of our neighbor is tragic. No one life should be taken. Our thoughts go out to his wife and six adult children and their families as they deal with their loss and this tragedy.
I have never been closer to murder than these 100 yards. This near death experience reminds me to act with care and compassion and to express love for those in my life.
Every week I send a “thought of the week” out to my co-workers. I changed the giving season email I had planned and sent this thought out instead:
A Gift List
To your enemy, forgiveness
To an opponent, tolerance
To a friend, your heart
To a customer, service
To all, charity
To every child, a good example
To yourself, respect.
Tread lightly my friends, my readers. Be safe this holiday season for you are in my heart.