The night we saved our neighbour’s life… and we’d never met before

The screams and cries for help I heard that night will never leave me.

Just a normal Sunday evening

Bryce, the twins and I had been out all day. We arrived home around 4 o’clock and were getting settled in for the night. Bryce began our bedtime routine for Levi and Tate while I made dinner. We put the AFL on in the background, as we always do.

At around 6 o’clock, while I was cooking, I could hear someone outside ‘cheering’;


I thought nothing of it.

When the person continued on and off for over an hour, we muted the TV and I stuck my head out the back door. Trying to work out where the sound was coming from, though it was muffled, it seemed it was from our neighbours directly behind us. I put it down to someone cheering for the same footy game that we had on.

The twins were asleep and Bryce and I climbed into bed around 8 o’clock to do our usual mundane task – sit on our phones and scroll through social media (relationships, am I right?!)

Still, we could hear the person ‘cheering’. The footy game had finished a while ago, and I knew no one could still be cheering that much for the Collingwood Magpies team, so we went out front to investigate.

The realisation something was wrong…

We stood in the driveway and the sound became less muffled.

“… me!…….. someone……… me!”

It was coming from our neighbour to our left. I leaned against the fence separating our houses and called out a sheepish “Hello?”

That’s when I heard it clear as day.

“Someone help me!”, a woman screamed.

Absolute panic sent in.

For it wasn’t someone ‘cheering’ or ‘wooing’. A woman was screaming ‘help!’ ‘someone!’ ‘somebody help me!’ over and over again for hours.

Two of our neighbours across the road arrived home at this moment. We called out to them, asking if they knew who the neighbour was if they had met them before. They hadn’t.

Because we too, had never met this neighbour. In fact, I had never seen a person coming or going from this house. I had lived in my house years before I met Bryce but had never met this neighbour.

Regardless, adrenaline kicked in. I instinctively ran around to their front door and tried to find a way in.

“Are you okay? Are you hurt? What’s your name?”

I bombarded this poor woman with questions, trying to ascertain her state, as all of her doors and windows were locked and covered.

Her name was Ruth*.

She continued to cry out, “help me please” over and over. Her voice was broken, distressed and fearful.

While trying to shoulder barge my way through the front door (they make it look so easy in the movies) Bryce called me back and said;

“Stop it, Liss! You have no idea what you’re running into…”

He was absolutely right.

“Is there anyone in there with you?”

“Did someone hurt you?”

Thankfully, she confirmed no to both. How silly of me though, I hadn’t even contemplated that someone could’ve hurt this woman, or worse, still be in there with her.

Bryce called triple zero while I kept Ruth talking so we could give the information to the police.

Ruth had slipped and fallen in her kitchen, she was lying face down and couldn’t move. Due to several medical conditions, even if she could move, she wouldn’t be able to without assistance.

While I checked on the twins, Bryce managed to locate through a council meeting minutes page on the internet, a person who knew a friend of Ruth’s. He called that friend to inform her of the situation.

I found Ruth’s kitchen window slightly ajar. I managed to climb onto a wheelie bin, lift myself onto the window sill and unlatch the window completely. I couldn’t get past the fly screen without breaking it.

In the dark with only a phone light, I could see Ruth lying on the floor, vulnerable, hurt and scared. I wanted to break through the screen, climb in and sit with her until help arrived. The police on the phone tut-tutted the idea. So I just talked with Ruth.

The police arrived half an hour later.

What we know…

As a result of her fall, Ruth had broken both shoulders. As she already used a walking aide before the accident, her recovery would be long. Ruth’s friend, the one that Bryce called, dropped over a bottle of wine and flowers the following day, and returned a few weeks later to give an update. Ruth was in hospital and would then move on to rehab before returning home. For how long? Who knew.

I decided then to do something I should have done when I first moved in – I introduced myself to Ruth. Via a letter that I left at her front door, I told Ruth about myself and my family. I gave her my number and said that I would love to have a coffee when she was up for it and to call/text if she ever needed anything.

The response

Four months later (this week in fact) – I received a text message* from Ruth.

*This text message has been edited to protect private and personal information.

What I took away…

Years ago, knowing your neighbours was not only acceptable, but welcomed. Borrowing staple items, like eggs or sugar. Holidaying with them. Attending street Christmas parties was completely normal.

Today – every inch of our homes is monitored by security cameras. We become ticked off when something is thrown over our fence or someone steps foot onto our property without good reason. We’re annoyed by loud music, dogs barking or children crying. We choose to mostly isolate ourselves from our neighbours.

Sure, not all neighbours are great. I can attest to this from my past residences. Some neighbours are rude or simply dangerous.

We don’t have to be friends with everyone, however, we should know at least who is living in the house next door, like Ruth. I had no idea she was an older woman, lived alone and had no family and not many friends in the area. This breaks my heart that I didn’t make an effort before. In saying that, I’m proud of us for investigating. What would’ve happened if we didn’t? What if we had just gone to sleep? How long would Ruth have survived if she had no one nearby and no way of contacting someone for help?

Let’s not forget about our vulnerable neighbours.

You can search in Google ‘neighbourhood watch near me’ for more information in your country.

8 thoughts on “The night we saved our neighbour’s life… and we’d never met before

  1. Bruna Barnett

    Aww Melissa thankfully you were home and investigated what was wrong and Ruth is so lucky to have you both as neighbours and glad is is recovering ☺️☺️

  2. Catherine

    Oh Melissa such a wonderful thing to do. That poor lady she would have been terrified. Thank goodness it’s had a pleasant ending, and you have brought some joy into her life.X

    1. Liss

      The only joy is that she is okay and that we will hopefully have a neighbourly relationship now 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to reply xxx

    1. Liss

      Yes, I hope so too! I’d love to be able to pop over to my friend next door 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to read and engage with me lovely <3


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