For Rent


Mike Mazzalongo

There's a "For Rent" sign in front of a house near my home. It's for rent because the young mother who lived there with her husband and two young children committed suicide recently. Her family has moved out and put the house up for rent.

I think of her every time I drive by on my way to and from work and see that sad little sign. Here I am, not one hundred yards from her front door, a two minute walk, daily thanking God for life eternal and the blessings of living in this lovely place with children playing happily in the street while this woman quietly ended her life.

I probably saw her and waved a friendly hello, as people do who live around here, without ever knowing about her pain and sorrow — content to think all was well in her life as it was in mine. I regret that someone so close to me was not aware of the message of hope and life that existed in me but was absent in her hour of need. Survivor guilt perhaps, the thoughts of one who knows he could have done much more.

The sign speaks to me each day. A reminder that we don't really know what goes on in people's lives, even those who live next door – For Rent, For Sale, Foreclose.

"There's no bringing her back," the grief counselor will say to her family and curious neighbors. "You have to move on with your lives," helping everyone to get busy with the new reality that has suddenly appeared.

Eventually the sign will come down and some new family will begin their story in that place. Maybe I'll wave and say hello. Maybe I'll know a name, a job, a dream. Maybe they'll know I have a hope and I live just up the street.