Thursday, July 26, 2007


Being back in PoDunk brings up memories...some good and some I would rather forget.

Seeing the hole in the ground where I used to live. A spacious 2 bedroom apartment but it had no windows or not even a fire escape plan. It was totally illegal but I could afford it and the landlord was ok.
My aunt used to live there but moved out and back to the reservation. She was only my neighbor for a short while.
Then I got new neighbors.
It was a couple. An Indian man and a white woman and their son who was the same age as my son Stephon. Their son's name was Shine. I never knew the man's name because he left her after she had been living there for a week.

Her name was Rhonda, she got a job working as maintenance for a prominent family business in town. Her son went to school up until his dad came and took him away.
Rhonda was depressed after that and started drinking again. She went to work drunk one day and was fired.

One day we had a horrible storm, I swear it was a tornado. I watched it from the doorway. The heavy brick building I was in made me feel safe so I watched as the light poles bent and I couldn't see anything across the street.

After the storm we had a blackout, which I don't know if ANYONE lived in a place with no windows, but having candles don't even help.

My kids and I sat in the stairwell. Soon Rhonda came out. We sat and talked and then she said she was going to the liquor store. She came back with a bottle of vodka and orange juice, no lights but the liquor store was open and busy she laughed about that.
We sat and visited and drank some screwdrivers. Soon she wasn't mixing it anymore. She was just drinking straight vodka from a glass.
She told me her whole life story in those 4 hours of darkness.
How HE made her move down here, uprooted her whole life only to leave her for a younger woman. How HE took their son away and placed him in foster care. How He broke her heart and now she was all alone.
She was going to get her life back together though, she swore she would.
When the lights came on, I went home feeling hopeless for her. I felt like her future was weak and waning.
I didn't want to feel like that though.
I remember days would go by and I wouldn't see her or any light from her apartment.
I would often check on her to see if she was ok.
Then I moved out and would see her occasionally at the store and such.
Then I moved to the reservation and never seen her again.
I overheard my EX-MIL's husband talking one day about "That was the apartment they found that lady in."
I felt myself take a deep breath. I knew.
So I asked.
She commited suicide in that apartment. No one checked on her until the landlord went to collect for rent.
She took a bunch of painkillers and washed them down with vodka.
I have nothing to say. I seen it coming. I seen her life flash before my eyes over candles and screwdrivers.
I knew it was going to happen and there was nothing I could do or did.
I think I met Rhonda so I could see how lucky I was in this lifetime for all that I had and have.


Josie Two Shoes said...

What a tragic story, Dana. Sometimes there is truly nothing that can be done to save someone. I've seen the writing on the wall a time or two before too. It always makes me wonder though, how if just one thing in their life might have gone differently, would they still be around? I'm sure Rhonda greatly appreciated your kindness and caring. You were her friend, and that's probably the only good thing she had.

Alissa said...

That is really sad. At least for those 4 hours she had a friend. Someone listened to her, and knew her story. Maybe that encounter wasn't meant for you to do something to help her, but for her to help you. You obviously already are taking a lot out of knowing her. Maybe that's the last thing she needed to do with her life before it was complete...

Gina said...

You were a good neighbor, Dana. A lot of people would not ever have bothered to relate to her. In a way we are like the light of that candle in each other's lives. Something to bring a sense of purpose. She was depressed and really needed the type of intervention which was beyond what you could offer.

CarolinaDreamz said...

sometimes the seeds of life that we think we are planting, really are others seeds that we will sow in our own futures..

great post!

stacy said...

I agree with the others, Dana. You did what you were able to do and that was more than anyone else did for her. Sometimes no matter how much or what kind of help is offered a person just can't climb out of the pit. It really does make you grateful for what you have, doesn't it? (I'd go give my kids a big hug if they were home.)

Daisy said...

Wow, Dana... What a sad but moving story. We can only hope she's happier where she is now...