We don’t know what to say, my wife and I, when we see our neighbor working in his yard. It’s his wife. We haven’t seen her in months and fear she’s dead. And we don’t know how to raise the subject tactfully. We never see/saw her as often as we see/saw him, but sometimes like last fall we saw them both walking together in the neighborhood. Is she dead now? Are they divorced? Is she housebound? Is she living in a nursing home, or hospice?
We’ve talked about what we might say to him to unravel our doubts. How’s your wife, to which he replies, dead thinking us inconsiderate. Maybe we could say haven’t seen your wife much how’s she doing but of course but that suffers from the same problem, if she’s dead she’s dead. Perhaps how’s your family, though he might say fine meaning they’ve come to terms with her demise. Or he could mean fine, that they’re all fine including his wife. He might answer that it’s been hard, but again that doesn’t answer the question is she dead or alive.
We could ask one of our neighbors who go to their church. They would know but might think less of us because we weren’t even aware that our neighbor’s wife is dead, or that he divorced her, or she’s housebound or in a nursing home. I suppose it doesn’t matter we’ve never been close other than greeting them when we see them in their yard or on the street. And we do know one thing. She’s most certainly either dead or alive.
Or maybe like Schrödinger’s cat she’s both dead and alive at the same time and hold up inside the box they call home. And we won’t know which until we open the front door and look inside.