The woman next door

During this 2020 pandemic, I’ve been home. I’ve spent the majority of my time on my back porch, with my new rescue dog, Zelda.

I smiled every time my neighbor came outside, yelling at Leo to go potty. Her sass, her love of that tiny yappy dog gave me a chuckle. Every time their neighbor’s large dogs were out, little Leo was let out to play and bark at them through the fence. It was a doggy barking game.

I tend to hide. I have security shades up so I can be alone, unbothered. But this neighbor, no matter what, could see me and made sure to say Hi.

I spoke more to her this summer than I have in all of the seven years we have been neighbors. One of our first conversations she complimented me on my hair.

She handed to me, over the fence, food little Leo didn’t want. She asked if I needed hand sanitizer and passed that over. She threw balls over the fence for my Zelda and told me about it later. Leo didn’t like these things but she thought Zelda might.

When I would see the ambulance, she would later tell me what happened.  At times, she shared her ailments, other times her opinion.

The stories she shared about her dog, Leo, moved me, cracked me up. She carried that dog into Walmart and nobody was going to tell her that he wasn’t a rescue dog. When he escaped the yard and a kind neighbor brought him back, she was shocked the neighbor wasn’t bitten. When someone offered thousands of dollars for her dog, she yelled at them and asked “Would you accept money for your child?”

I became aware of how she always said “Hi” first and I made an effort to initiate and be grateful.

I told her that it was the ball she gave Zelda that taught Zelda how to play fetch. It was a big breakthrough for Zelda, and I thanked her for it. When she gave me the hand sanitizer I told her I didn’t have any cash. Angrily she said, “Did I ask you for any?”

I took for granted her coming out to the backyard. And yet, I used to go into the house and tell my husband, “I love that woman.”

You see I never asked her what her name was nor told her mine.

I saw the fire truck and the ambulance today. When they left I figured I would ask her if she was ok. But then the police came back and I heard someone talking about arrangements for the dog.

I found out today her name was Mary. I have cried a lot today. Surprisingly, it has hit me hard.

I miss her.  I miss her dog.

I didn’t know her.

I wish I had.

It’s quiet next door. Too quiet.

About the author

Kim Hiles (Dancing Feather) was born in Pennsylvania in the 1960s. Her mother was from Germany and met her father while stationed there. The family moved several times before settling in a town called Millis, Massachusetts.

Kim developed severe anxiety and depression as a child and struggled to find her way. Growing up, Kim was told by her grandmother that she wrote beautiful letters and had a way with words. Later in life, this memory would be a catalyst for sitting down and writing her memoir.

Continuing to say yes to life, Kim talks about her struggles of addiction, anxiety, depression and relationship issues, to name a few. She considers it her life mission to help empower others and uses her memoir as a way to offer guidance in living a more authentic life, following your dreams.

She has overcome much adversity and enjoys walking with others as they find their way. Kim has also co-written a young adult fantasy with her husband Will, called Little Wonders. Their pen name is K.W. Hiles.

Kim is a successful Educator, Social and Emotional Learning Specialist, Behavior Specialist, Mediator (Restorative Practices), 3rd degree Reiki Practitioner, and blogs regularly. In addition Kim offers online classes at Shamanic Passages Institute

Kim is considered highly sensitive and intuitive. Utilizing her gifts, her mission is to channel inspiration and healing and help spread some light. Empowering others to create the life of their dreams is the ultimate goal.

Kim is happily married (21+ years) and lives with her husband, son and their animal companions.

"I had a teacher who told us to go out that week and see how many Mercedes cars we noticed. When I came back I told her I had seen a lot! She asked me if I had seen any junk cars. I told her I didn’t remember seeing any. The next week she reversed it and asked us to go out and see how many junk cars we noticed. Of course we noticed a lot but didn’t remember seeing any Mercedes cars. Where is your focus? Is it on the problem or on the solution and more importantly, where would you like it to be?" -- Kim Hiles

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