A neighbor along my hall has been calling out as if in pain since I moved here. On and off, day and night. A nurse, I assumed, visited her regularly, knocking on the neighbor’s door, door opening, asking how she’s doing in that kind, bright way of nurses, entering, shutting door.

I heard her cries tonight. I’d gotten into the habit of whispering, “Peace and love, sweetie,” over and over. I offered this lame refrain again tonight. Then I heard another neighbor, on my right, I think, knock on her door over and over, calling, “Hello?” and “Are you OK?” and “Can I help you?” Pitch perfect, his voice, concerned but not anxious or demanding. She quietened. Opened the door, I guess. Asked if she needed an ambulance. He may’ve walked her to his apartment or stayed with her until I heard sirens near.

Seeing the EMTs spooked and scared her, perhaps, and her cries turned shorter and louder, more anguished. I heard the nurse’s voice after a time, or whoever visited her. Chatter, the visitor’s gentle chuckle, metallic creaks of a gurney, voices becoming distant, and my neighbor’s door shut.

I blessed him for helping her as I cursed myself for doing nothing. I got home last night after a perfect day with G. That’s what I called it. I wrote about being my best self yesterday, an extended sense of joy, peace, accepting and loving me in totality. Tonight tested that love and I failed. Out eight hours, walking, walking to relish the warmth and breeze, I awoke to an “In” day, I knew, with reignited shoulder and neck pain. Stayed in my pjs, no need for teeth, napping to rest the pain. Same shit, different day.

I was scared. I didn’t want to see who might open the door. I knew those calls. My mood had improved, consistent in its glass half fullness for more than a month. That self-care worked. Managing stress. Seeing her might have sent me reeling again. All my dithering on about compassion and empathy and “Do Something.” I thought I hadĀ substance but it’s dirty fingernails scratching for the hidden prize.


Lack of communication is unhealthy.

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