Love Your Neighbors Now
by Kelly Vandever
One year ago today, I was practicing one more time for the presentation that I’d deliver that night. Down our street, my neighbors started their days doing the activities they do any typical Tuesday. Going to work. Attending school. Entertaining out of town guests. It was a “normal” day by all accounts.
But by 7:30 PM on March 12th, the lives of those of us living on Silhouette Court would be changed forever.
My husband is a prosecuting attorney. He has seen hundreds of jurors struggling, unable to grasp how one human being could possibly commit a horrendous act of violence against another. Why is the question they never get an answer to.
Since March 12, 2013, it has been the neighbors of Silhouette Court who have been unable to understand Why.
Three men followed our neighbor Chris Walker home from a local Taco Bell and a few minutes after 7 PM, one of them shot and killed Chris in his driveway.
I didn’t know Chris.
I was one of “those kinds of neighbors.” The ones that maybe wave “hi” and “bye” if I happened to see one of my neighbors in the driveway. But I didn’t know, let alone love my neighbors.
I knew a few folks that we met when we first moved in or who had kids that my kids played with when they were small. But now that my kids have all left home, I didn’t make the time to meet new neighbors as they moved in or spend time with the ones I did know.
In the days following Chris’ murder we, his neighbors, wanted to do something.
Individually, we brought flower and left cards. Some went to Chris’ visitation and some attended his funeral mass. Finally one neighbor brought together the few she knew with the few others of us knew and collectively, thanks to her coordination, we brought the family meals to help feed them and their visitors during this horrible, horrible time.
Slowly, progressively, in these months that have followed Chris’ murder, we’ve gotten to know our neighbors.
They are wonderful, wonderful people.
We frequently have Friday “driveway parties” – everyone brings their own lawn chair and beverage and we sit around on a centrally located driveway to relax after the work week and hang out. When the weather got cold, our host bought an outdoor gas heater and the party moved into the garage. And on a couple of especially cold nights, we have moved indoors.
We’ve had two block parties with shared food and pick up games of corn hole.
We had a New Year’s Eve party and sang karaoke together.
It has been marvelous getting to know my neighbors with more than a hand wave. It has been wonderful to really love my neighbors. Having deep conversations. Laughing hysterically. Crying together over losses. Crying together as Chris’ family continues to miss him each and every minute of each and every day.
Last night, we took over a food basket for Chris’ family and hung white bows on our mailboxes. Tonight, we will light luminaries and release white balloons in memory of Chris.
I can now say I love my neighbors. And as much as I love my neighbors, I would give it all up if it meant I could give Chris back to his family.
But nothing can bring Chris back and we’ll have to trust in the promises of God that we’ll see him again when this life is over.
Until then, I share our story in hopes that it will inspire you to get to know and love your neighbors. I never knew Chris in this world. I missed out. Don’t miss out on loving your neighbors right now.
Kelly Vandever is a leadership and communications expert who helps leaders and organizations thrive in today’s attention-deficit, entertain-me-now, wait-while-I-post-that-on-Facebook world. Connect with Kelly and discover how opening up and speaking practically can bring you better business results.
Contact Kelly by phone at 770-597-1108, email her or tweet her @KellyVandever.