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Friday, July 26, 2013

The Death of Human Contact


I turned the corner coming home last night and noted to myself that our neighbors had a lot of company which was unusual for them. I dismissed it as none of my business and scuttled in the house to start dinner. Later when my husband came home he mentioned the amount of cars as well. We have lived in our home for 18 years, and our neighbors lived next door since before we moved in. They are about our age (with no children) which means they have fewer gray hairs than we do, but they are sweet and quiet. Neither my husband nor myself are ones to meet and greet like Ward and June Cleaver. We met them when we moved in and make pleasantries when we see them outside, but that has been the extent of our interaction. My husband was concerned that maybe one of their parents had died or something so I told him to check the local paper online. Not surprising there was nothing there so I suggested he check the online obituaries for the local funeral home. He called for me to come into the den and there on the computer screen was her obituary complete with a picture of her beautiful face. She died just yesterday  at only 55. It was like a punch in the gut. Our block is very quiet and everyone keeps to themselves.  Where was my old phone book? The one with friends, family and neighbors addresses and numbers I had back in the day of land lines, before social media. I dug around and found it and called the closest neighbor. To be honest, I didn't expect her number to still be in order. It seems everyone is abandoning their land lines for a cell phone that fits in your pocket.  I left a voice mail not expecting a response, but later she called me back. Yes, the death was sudden and unexpected. A routine outpatient surgery turned deadly before the surgery began. My heart is saddened and has a deep shadow of shame that I have not taken time to get to know the woman next door. In our world of social media and drive through confessionals, we've lost the human touch of the good ole days when you could borrow a cup of sugar from the lady next door and return the favor with cookies. Our connection to instant information and remote contact has in many ways become more of an isolation. Our access to everything has left us with nothing but pseudo friendships that can never replace the comfort of a hug, or a the ability to looked into the eyes of our neighbors to see the pain that can't be conveyed by a high definition screen.... And that my friend is a shame.

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