Deep in the middle of a dark, rainy day last winter, I noticed one of my neighbors limping.
We had many talks over the fence during summer lawn-mowing days. We took in each other’s mail if we were ever on vacation. I borrowed their ladder.
I had the thought at the time to joke with him because I myself was on crutches, not able to sit, and mostly lying in bed, healing.
I’ll talk with him once I’m back on my feet, I thought.
He and his partner left their usual holiday goodies tin at our door. They made them together for everyone in the neighborhood every year. I had heard them knock, but couldn’t get up to answer.
Then it just seemed quieter over there. Much quieter. I never saw my neighbor with the limp. I had the thought that he was gone.
Yesterday, I finally went over to their house to check in, say hello. No answer, so I left a card in their mailbox.
It turned out, he recently died.
His limp was cancer riddling his leg and then his whole body.
I talked for a long time with his life partner, more than we ever have in 8 years of being neighbors. I heard about both their families, the story of the disease, the funeral.
I can hear the mind get fired up, begin to make comments here and there in the background.
I should have gone over there sooner. I could have had them come by for tea during the holidays. We never shared a meal. There’s nothing I can do now. I missed my chance. He’s gone. He was younger than me. Everything’s temporary.
I know its not true. But a melancholy sense of the briefness of life.
How do I react when I believe he died and I’ll never get the chance to deepen the relationship, see him, do happy neighborly things, share more?
Sad, concerned, aware of how brief This all seems sometimes. Then I also have a voice that thinks it doesn’t matter, we weren’t very close. People die every day.
The reactive mind sorts, categorizes, evaluates, chatters. Trying to reduce pain, manage information, protect, alert.
So who would I be without the belief that I missed my chance to connect? Without the thought that it went less than the way it could have gone, that I should have gone over there sooner?
Here in the present, simply taking in this information.
“Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder where the ‘younger you’ went? That is the unchanging sense of being noticing the changing world. Change can only be noticed against a background of stillness. There can be stillness without change, but there cannot be change without stillness.” ~ Fred Davis
Turning the thoughts around that my neighbor died, that it was a surprise, that it’s troubling to be unaware of when the ‘end’ will come, that I missed a chance for greater connection….
….an sense of the unknown fills the room, an alive pulsing mystery.
The wind blows a wind chime, the heater kicks on and hums, the lights glow. I look around and there are pictures, colors, shapes absolutely everywhere.
There is memory of my dear neighbors, one now without a body, one still in a body, also here in this present moment.
I shouldn’t have done anything sooner. It was perfect not to have them over for tea. We shared all that was needed to share. There’s anything and everything I can do now. I gained my chance for connection. He’s here. He was younger than me, how wonderful.
Now, today, in this moment I notice the change in everything, every moment. The movement of all things. Energy and stillness.
Today, I am here, tomorrow perhaps not. Halleluia.
“No argument in the world can make the slightest dent in what has already happened. Prayer can’t change it, begging and pleading can’t change it, punishing yourself can’t change it, your will has no power at all………nothing less than an open mind is creative enough to free you from the pain of arguing with what is. An open mind is the only way to peace. As long as you think that you know what should and shouldn’t happen, you’re trying to manipulate God. This is a recipe for unhappiness.” ~ Byron Katie
Today, I love being reminded through my dear neighbor’s passing, of even being willing to consider what is wonderful about everything being temporary, including my life.
What is wonderful about death for you, today?
Much love, Grace