My next door neighbour died.
Think about the street you live in. You moved here, what, just over twenty years ago? (That’s too long! Move on!) How many houses in the street? About forty, row houses, I’ve never counted in all this time… A handful of neighbours pre-date you, another handful rolled in around the same time as you. You’re all bunched up, up this end of the street – the houses surrounding you, and across from you, full of the familiar but not actual friends. Down the other end, especially on this side, they come and go. You wouldn’t know them if you tripped over them.
The ones you know by name – the nodders, the hellos, the little bits of family history divulged…if you’d had to write it on a scrap of paper and slide that into a time capsule way back when you arrived hers was not the name you’d have penned! She was not who you’d expect to go first! (Ok not technically first but those already gone, those four, were all old and infirm). First of us, our age group, inconceivable.
I spoke to her husband on the weekend. He’s not a nice man, I have to be honest, but I heard love, pain, such grief in his voice. I took the dead flowers away.