I wrote about a news story I saw last week (see below). The bodies of an elderly couple were discovered when the sheriff’s department showed up to evict them from their home. The story really touched me and I just wanted to write about it. Anyway, not sure if you take contributions to your blog, but if you do and if you like it, please feel free to share.
On Thursday, October 2, 2014, just after 1 PM, deputies from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s office repeatedly knocked on the door of a townhome in a quiet subdivision. There to serve an eviction, deputies forcibly entered the premises but too late to save the elderly couple inside. The septuagenarians died in what police believe was a murder-suicide. The husband was dead on the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and his wife died later at a nearby hospital, also from a gunshot.
I began searching local news sites to find out more. I wanted to know if the couple had children and grandchildren or neighbors – somebody shocked and saddened and outraged about their deaths. I turned up with almost nothing on that front. However, several folks had also been touched by the news and posted comments after the story ran on a local paper’s online site. A common thread among the comments highlighted a growing lack of compassion for others, especially those struggling to survive. I’m not sure I totally agree with this sentiment. I really believe that most people are fundamentally good and very compassionate. I have no choice but to believe this since I have been the recipient of radical kindness and generosity many times. Perhaps the couple’s tragic demise does not illustrate the callousness of our society but something else entirely.
In initial reports, none of the neighbors interviewed even knew the couple and were completely unaware of their apparent financial struggles. I live in a neighboring county and I am ashamed to say that I only saw the story on our local news because I was waiting for the Wendy Williams Show to begin, so I could fill myself with a daily dose of celebrity gossip and a BLT. I rarely watch the news because it can be super depressing and anxiety provoking. But I’m glad I was watching last Thursday. I’m glad my eyes were wide open to what’s happening around me. I would venture a guess that many people are also “tuned out” to varying degrees. Not necessarily on purpose either. We are busy working and attending school and raising children and caring for aging parents and trying hard not to have eviction notices tacked to our own doors. But being so occupied with our own problems and desires sometimes means not seeing our neighbors, not seeing the needs around us.
Maybe today a stranger on the bus needs me to stop texting and have an encouraging conversation with them. Perhaps a co-worker needs me to ask how they are doing (and really mean it). A neighbor might be immensely grateful for some homemade cookies left on her doorstep. An elderly relative might need me to listen patiently and attentively as they share a favorite memory and show me old photographs (again).
I don’t know all the details of the couple’s story. Besides the humiliation of having their personal belongings set out on the curb to be picked through by onlookers and the threat of being homeless, they may have been facing myriad obstacles. But I just hate that they felt so alone and so hopeless that a brutal death was the best option. I suppose I don’t want their deaths to be meaningless. I want to remember them and others like them whose names I don’t know. The only solution I’ve come up with is to resist the urge each day to tune out.