Today I walked around the block a few times for exercise as I do everyday. But I saw something new–a pile of boxes and papers and books and furniture strewn all over the driveway and open garage of the house of one of my neighbors who had moved into our community the same month I did, when the homes were built eleven years ago. I knew something was wrong. I wondered if she was moving or cleaning house or worse case–had died.
I stopped to talk to a young man coming toward his car and he told me Pat had passed away a month ago of cancer. He was one of her employees. Then I knocked on the front door and introduced myself to Pat’s sister who was taking stock of all the belongings and having to make the difficult decision of what to keep, to sell, to give way.
As I strolled home I was struck by how close you can be to someone in terms of location and yet so far away day to day. Pat and I had been walking buddies for several months when we moved to this area but then life took over–work, family, travel, stuff! We drifted apart and several years went by when we didn’t even run into each other.
Then suddenly about two months ago Pat was pulling into her driveway while I was walking by and we stopped and caught up, though she did not reveal her illness. She invited me to stop by sometime and maybe we could walk as we once did. I agreed. I’d watch for her car.
After that I never again saw her car in the driveway so I assumed she was away. She probably was–at a doctor’s appointment or a chemo treatment, but of course I didn’t know at the time.
I’m left today with a sad heart. Pat and I were not close friends by any means, but still she was an older woman living alone as I am now and she was a nice person to meet and share a few walks with when we were both new to the area.
How strange life is sometimes. People come and go in our lives and we come and go in theirs. We never know when it will be over–till it is!
I’m going to try to be more present to the neighbors I still have, and while I still can spread a little love around.
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”