Tuesday, August 17, 2004

This afternoon, a shirtless, shoeless guy tried to break into my house. He hovered in the driveway for awhile. My friend Wendy and I watched him; his jeans were held together by a twist of plastic bag. That's what I remember the most. He looked out of it, confused. Then he walked up onto my porch. He stayed there for awhile, just standing there. I couldn't see him. Wendy looked through the small window next to the front door.

"Should I do anything?" I asked her. Neither of us knew what to do. Our daughters played nearby, oblivious.

Then he started testing the front door. It rattled, the doorknob jangling. I was relieved to see that the door was locked. It soon began to thump inside its frame; he seemed to be tossing his whole body repeatedly against the door. Adrenaline ran cold through my whole body. The girls, no longer oblivious, raced out of the room; my daughter--her head clear--ran to make sure the back door was locked. The man muttered something. Wendy yelled "This isn't your house! Get out of here!" She pushed her own body against the door to try to stop him from breaking through. I called the police.

The man left, wavering down the street toward the park, before the officers arrived. A few hours later, a neighbor came by. It turns out that the guy went down to the park, stole a hammer from a fisherman and banged himself in the head until he was bloody. Then he banged his head on a rock for awhile before he jumped into Lake Evans (a slimy man made body of water) and swam toward the palm tree covered island at the center of it. When the police showed up and started yelling at him, he jumped from the island, swam toward some floating docks, and disappeared into the water. He never came back up. A team of divers is still looking for him. I am getting chills just thinking about it.

I'm so grateful our door was locked. I can't even imagine what would have happened if he had gotten inside. At least I don't want to imagine. This whole experience reminds me how life can change at any moment, how random forces can come and disrupt everything in the blink of an eye. It makes me appreciate each beautiful normal moment of life all the more. And it makes my heart ache for this guy, and people like him, who are so disturbed, so wracked with pain, so out of their heads, that they are driven to such self-destruction. What a day. I am very happy to be in one piece, to have my family intact, to be able to sit here and tell you this story.

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