I often spend time with a thesaurus, the way some people use their scriptures—looking for the right word, the right expression to describe how I am feeling. I look for a particular word to describe a moment or a memory like an artist may look for the right color for a sunrise. I am still searching tonight for exactly what it is I feel, for a way to describe what is in my heart. Is it sadness? Is it melancholy? Pain may be too strong a word and gratitude doesn’t really bring my feelings into focus either—although that is a part of it. This unnamed feeling, has slowed me down (and I have a lot to do), it has kept me looking at the sunset, long after the sun has dropped behind the mountains. It has caused me to look at the birds in our trees and to listen to their song. I stared at the crocus coming up in my garden until I was so cold I had to come inside and wrap up. I have talked on the phone to every single one of my children.
Today, I sat for the longest time watching out my window as a black, shiny suburban pulled into my neighbors driveway, as police officers came and went to their cars, as my dog paced like he knew something was amiss. I watched two men in black suits load my neighbor’s covered body into a car. I watched his friend making calls on a cell phone. It seemed surreal. Spring is in the air. The trees are budding. The grass which had been snow covered this morning was beginning to green. But my friend was now gone.
Just yesterday, we stood at the fence and talked. We talked about lawn fertilizer and ObamaCare. We talked about my kids going to the new high school and about how he wanted to hitch up his trailer and see the country. We talked about his swollen feet and how he needed to have his pacemaker reset. And, my parting words were, ‘I will see you next week, after your surgery, riding your lawnmower.” John and I had a guarded relationship as neighbors. He did not like my barking dog, but hey, he had the herd of deer living in his backyard. He was a single, quiet-loving bachelor—I had the herd of kids —who often drove too fast down the road. But still we were neighbors. He kept my fence repaired and helped us trim trees and I made sure he had fancy Christmas cookies. Most importantly, he was always kind to my boys and loved to share fishing stories and talk about water-skiing….and we all shared a love of the mountains and rivers and lakes—and rough hewn log cabins.
And tonight, when my son sent a text telling me he felt somber, I knew I found my word. I felt somber. Watching the sun set and the spring rise, I felt like a connection had been cut with a good man, a little gruff on the outside, but in my boy’s words—very kind underneath. John I hope you have found the perfect fishing hole today! I am going to miss my over-the-fence neighbor.