It was a week ago today that my friend and neighbor Chris Witte was tragically killed in a hit and run accident in front of her mother's home. I went to her service on Friday evening, along with my husband and two youngest daughters. According to the obituary, the family was accepting condolences from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. with the service beginning at 6:00 p.m. We arrived at the funeral home around 5:20 p.m. And what we saw was a line of people waiting outside, in the cold, stretched around three sides of the building, just to pay their respects. We waited patiently, with numb toes, for an hour and a half just to get inside the building. And then another half hour + snaking in and out of the space inside the building until we reached the family. In deference to all the other people still waiting, we kept our condolences short. And then we waited for the service which finally started around 8:15 p.m.
I thought about how quick the media was to cover the tragedy of Chris' death, but how sad it was that no media was there to cover the outpouring of love to this family in the wake of their loss. I listened to Chris' daughters speak about what a great mother they had, of how they just didn't know how they would go on without her. I listened to the minister (also a neighbor) speak about what kind of friend and neighbor Chris had been. And I took the example to heart. Chris was outgoing, extroverted, the first person on the block to knock on your door and introduce herself and welcome you to the neighborhood. She asked, and was genuinely interested, about what was going on in your life. And the next time she saw you, she'd ask for details about something you had long since forgotten you even mentioned to her. She greeted everyone with a smile and wave. She knew most of her customers at the local grocery store by first name. That's just who she was.
So this week, my challenge to myself, and to you, is to do a kindness for a neighbor. Someone on your own block or in your own neighborhood. It can be as simple as a bright smile or a wave hello. Maybe you could make a batch of your famous chocolate chip cookies and deliver them in person. Or maybe, if you happen to live anywhere like where I do, you could shovel a bit of their sidewalk when you are done with your own. Or return their fly-away recycling bin to their front porch. Whatever it might be, just reach out, and make your own neighborhood a better place.