I just found out a former coworker passed away. She was an older woman and had a heart attack.
That’s not what this post is about; it’s about what happened after she passed.
She lived alone. Her brother was out of town and kept trying to call her, with no answer. Finally he sent the landlord into her apartment, who then discovered what happened. They think she had been dead for two days.
Talk about a peril of living alone.
I’ve often thought about this. I know I’m young, and the chances of a heart attack are unlikely. But truly, you never know what could happen. My mother constantly reminds me that since I rarely call her, she would never know if something bad happened to me. We talk maybe once a week. And I like it that way. I communicate with other people in the meantime, but if they didn’t hear from me for a couple days, they probably wouldn’t think anything was strange. At least not strange enough to bust down my door and see if I’m lying naked in my shower, immobilized by a broken arm. For that kind of a reaction, I feel like it would have to be after several days of my disappearance. There would be no phone tree fan-out to find out if anyone had heard from me — because most of my friends are independent, spinning circles around me instead of one cohesive unit who know one another.
I never thought about all the perils that come with living alone. I hate the idea that if something happened to me, no one would know — perhaps for several days. I love the independence that comes with living alone…but I’m not a fan of the perils. And I’m not sure how to reconcile the two. Sure, I could have a check-in buddy who I talk to every night before hitting the sheets. But as much as I love all my friends who could easily serve this purpose, I don’t want to be tied down like that. Isn’t the whole idea of living alone so you don’t have to check in? I’m not a phone-talker, the idea of having to have a 15 minute conversation every night with someone is just horrible to me. Even if it’s with one of my best friends.
Sure, DD should probably serve in this role. I’d be more inclined to talk to him every night before I lay me down to sleep. But we don’t have that kind of a relationship. We’re both anti-phone, so we rarely use it. We text or e-mail daily, but if we go a day without, or one of us doesn’t reply, we assume the other is too busy right then. If we go a couple days without communicating, one of us will reach out to make sure all is well, but we know the default answer is probably that everything is just fine, so we’re not really worried. But what happens when things aren’t fine? At what point do you worry and go into overdrive?
God, I feel like now I have to go create some sort of elaborate phone tree so that if something ever happens and I disappear for two days, everyone knows how to get a hold of everyone and they find my body while it’s still recognizable and before my story turns into one of those “it’s so sad,” [storyteller shakes head.] “she wasn’t found for a week. Can you imagine!” tales that I shared above. This is all a lot of work for a girl who just chose to get a place on her own so she could enjoy a little space.