Be careful when you come down our street. There are police everywhere. I can't get past.
What's going on? I asked into the phone as I grabbed our fast food from the drive-thru cashier.
I'm not sure. It's at the top of the hill.
Oh no. I wonder if something's happened to one of those little boys. You know when you come up the hill it's hard to see them when they're in the road. I wonder if somebody topped the hill too fast.
I don't know. I'll see you in a minute.
On the five-minute drive to the house, I imagined every possible scenario. Except the one that actually happened.
I found out what happened from the neighbors.
The boys' mom is dead. Apparently, their step-dad killed her.
That's all I know.
Okay. See you in a minute.
Sure enough, as the neighbors whispered up and down our street, word spread. He'd killed her. The weapon was a baseball bat.
The news rattled me. It still does.
I didn't know her. I'd seen her kids outside quite often when I'd run. But I'm pretty sure I never saw her.
I've passed house number 167 many times over the last few weeks. I've watched the plant hanging from her mailbox wither and die. I've watched the yellow tape disappear. I've seen a note on the front door. And I've wondered about her.
What was she like? Was she abused often?
Last week, apparently someone cleaned out the house. Belongings were placed on the side of the road for garbage pick up. Toys. Game chairs. A microwave. A piece of art. Boxes. Things that she probably picked out to help create a home. Her things.
As I walked and ran past that pile over the past week, I glanced every time. It felt wrong to look. That pile was not ordinary trash. It was a pile of things belonging to a woman (and her children) whose life was taken from her.
Tonight the pile was gone. Pick up was today. The reminder of a life once lived, one I never knew, is gone.
And I wonder how many more broken lives, broken marriages, angry souls, and hurting people are behind the closed doors of beautiful homes. I wonder how many people on my street alone suffer in silence. I wonder, and I pray.