Friday, December 19, 2008

"Crappy Holidays!"

So I posted my holiday list. Things I need and want. After that, I mention that I would like to help a neighbor make Christmas a holiday that actually included some toys for her kids. Unfortunately, to date, I have received ONE gift, and it was a donation to my PayPal account, which in turn went right to my checking account so I can do silly things, like eat. Each trip to my mailbox starts with the hope that a surprise awaits, and instead I've received bills and, oddly, a jury summons. (It doesn't matter what the trial is about. I'll just ask a lot of questions about the death penalty and how soon I can see whoever the defendant is fry. That should get me out of it.)

So my holiday season is already looking rather bleak, when, just an hour ago, (from when I started banging out this post), I learned a neighbor is extremely ill.

I've mentioned my neighbor, Cookie, elsewhere. She and I had a falling out at a time when I was in need of help. You see, since I met her, I have volunteered my aid to her in any way I can. Most specifically, when others would come to my aid financially, I would share the wealth by asking her what she needed at the local market. The conversations were almost the same every time.

Me: Cookie, I'm headed to the market. What do you need?
Her: Well, I need (insert various items), but I don't have any money for them.
Me: That's not what I asked. I asked, "What do you need?" You told me. I'll be back in a bit.

I would return about a half an hour later with whatever she mentioned. Occasionally, out of the blue, I would simply grab something I'm sure she needed anyway, and would buy it without even asking.

Now, Cookie has the habit of becoming reliant on those who lend her aid. When I started taking narcotic painkillers regularly, she would sometimes call and ask if I could bring one by because she was in terrible pain. Despite the warning that such meds should not be shared, all I saw was a human being that was suffering, and sparing one tablet wouldn't do me any harm, but would give an elderly woman relief. The problem there was that the frequency in which she asked for meds started to increase, and I was put in a position of denying her such aid. I am neither a pharmacy nor a drug dealer. I get these painkillers because I need them. Sparing one or two a month wasn't anything terrible. One every few days was something terrible, and so my answer of "no" became a permanent reply.

Then came the day when I needed help of my own. It was a weekend. The 3rd of the month was a Monday, and SSD checks aren't received until then. SSI checks, however, arrive on the 1st of the month. If either payday falls on a weekend or holiday, the checks arrive early. So Cookie got her money on Friday, before the 1st, (which I believe was May 31st, but may have been as far back as February 29th). (*sigh* Me and my crappy memory when it comes to dates and numbers.) Knowing that my money would be directly deposited to my checking account, I went and asked Cookie for $30 to get me through the next few days. I was completely broke at that time, and she was the very last person I would normally ask for aid. My thinking was, "For all the help I've given her, surely she could help me out, especially when she'll have the money back in only a few days."

But Cookie was obsessing over a phone bill that was due on the 6th. As usual, she would pay this bill over the phone via her debit card, meaning that the payment would be made instantly. Even if she was a week late, they wouldn't shut down her service. But that wasn't an issue at all. No matter how it played out, she could help me and pay the bill on time. After explaining this, she still managed to ask me for a day to think about it.

Fine. I gave her a day. When I returned on Saturday, she said she couldn't help because she paid the bill. In other words, no matter how desperate I was, she felt the need to pay her phone bill early rather than return the countless favors I'd done for her in the past. Actions speak louder than words, and her actions essentially told me to drop dead.

I ended up going to someone else for the help.

After that, I refused to give Cookie the time of day. I made obvious efforts to ignore her, and when she called in tears to leave a message saying she didn't understand what she'd done wrong, I was pretty much floored. How could anyone be that stupid? I needed help. (Heck, I always need help.) She had it within her power to help. Instead, she made sure she couldn't help.

It's been many months since I've said anything to her at all. I have gone as far as to take a longer route when heading out of my apartment complex just to avoid going near her apartment. It's simply beyond me how anyone can blatantly ignore a plea for help when they're in a position to do so.

Out of food again, I decided it was time to head for the market again. While I was at it, I thought I might as well get those pesky insulin syringes I use daily. As I stepped out of my apartment, I ran into the neighbor directly next door to me, Kim. Kim informed me that Cookie was taken away by ambulance this morning and is very bad shape. Cookie had a heart attack and a stroke.

Everyone wants to make an effort to see her in the hospital, including me. I want to repair whatever is broken between us before, G-d forbid, she passes on. Alas, she isn't permitted visitors as long as she's in the trauma ICU. I went to share this information with Kim, and she told me Cookie had been down for two days before she was found. It's already a miracle she's alive. If she makes it out of this mess, it will truly be a divine deed.

So I sink another notch. This is not how one would want the holiday season to play out.

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