Saying goodbye to one of our own

August 21, 2012

I live in a community that cares for one another, watches out for one another and has over-the-back-fence discussions online with one another. That’s right. Online.

It’s inspirational, the extent to which members of our neighborhood e-list, some 3,000+ of us, step up to help each other. We take in stray dogs and try to find their owners, search the streets for each other’s lost pets, look out for burglars, suggest doctors, argue politics and in general provide the kind of support that you could only hope to have in a close-knit neighborhood.

I suppose it’s the way things used to be in small towns, but we’re a large neighborhood-almost a town– in a city of almost a million. In Silicon Valley.  But we could be Mayberry, USA. Somehow, this e-list, this online presence in the technology center of the world, has bonded us in an old-school way.

Last week, one of our own was stabbed to death on the street.  She was homeless, a familiar face to many in our area. The care, concern and grief at her fate were evident in the many messages posted on our e-list once members realized the victim was one of us.

She may have been homeless, but she was our neighbor. We never knew her name, but she was our own.

Over Christmas, much care and concern were expressed for our homeless neighbors and many, many residents stepped in to share helpful information on the e-list. Some had homeless and/or mentally ill relatives, others worked in the field but all shared their experience and gave advice to suggest what would be –and wouldn’t be–helpful.

This woman, lost in her own world, was one of those my neighbors sought to help.

I’ve never lived in a place where people embraced each other the way they do in Willow Glen, where they clearly believe they are each other’s keepers. And act that way.

Last night, the community held a vigil for the woman who was killed. I did not attend, but more than 200 did.

Think of it: a vigil for a homeless woman whose true name wasn’t even known.

“She died without knowing how many people cared for her,” one neighbor told a reporter.

I have to disagree. She knew, and still knows.

Here’s what I believe: we come here for a purpose that we know and accept going in. Her purpose may well have been to give us the opportunity to access our compassion and concern and to demonstrate it… perhaps as a lesson for others. That’s what I think, anyway.

Concern, care and compassion. I’ve seen it every day in my neighborhood. Thank you, neighbors. ♥  I feel really, really lucky to live here.

I’m wondering how many others live in a neighborhood like this…feel free to share your own stories below.

4 comments on “Saying goodbye to one of our own
  1. You *are* lucky! Thanks for a beautiful, inspiring post.

  2. Thanks for dropping by…and for the compliment. My neighbors –& I define that broadly–really are the greatest.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Carol-
    I’m sure you mean well, I can tell that you’re genuinely moved by the show of support for the homeless woman. I wonder though if you really thought about your words when you said that her “purpose” was to allow us to “access our compassion and concern”. I can’t imagine that anyone who clearly lived a hard life, and who suffered a brutal and unnecessary death, did so with the “purpose” of allowing those of us with measurably easier lives to show compassion. And I can’t imagine any sort of grand plan that would allow for someone to live and die as she did in order to allow us to demonstrate our concern. It all seems a bit condescending to me.

  4. Hi Chris,
    Yes, I did consider my words. “Meanng well” didn’t enter into it. Neither did meaning “ill.” This is my spiritual belief structure, and I was careful to point that out. I’m sorry you took it as condescending;I was careful to explain a bit of my beliefs. Bad things happen to people and we each have our own perspective on that because it certainly is difficult to swallow. In mine, there is a greater purpose, even to tragedy. There is nothing condescending about it; it’s the root of a number of spiritual beliefs.Including mine. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "Saying goodbye to one of our own"
  1. Uncivilized behavior on display in my town says:

    […] once blogged about how wonderful the people in this community were to the homeless.  I thought it was a beautiful thing, much like gorgeous tulips standing tall and […]

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