Your Neighbors May Be At Your Funeral Someday

It may be that after our Halloween gathering Friday night on the front lawn, which was a beautiful gathering of friends and neighbors…followed by the traditional trick or treat adventures…followed by a Saturday of sneezing all day due to a Fall wind that blew in…followed by a Sunday and Monday of staying home with sick kids…that this cooping up of my body, this forced restfulness, this snuggling under a blanket with my children, has allowed some space in my heart to mull over things–and when I ruminate on something, what’s the next step? It overflows here, for all eyes to read…

It’s been so long since my children and I have stayed home all day, stayed in our PJ’s all day, and holed ourselves up under our favorite blankets with unlimited tv viewing and device playing. The children weren’t terribly sick, but sick enough to not know if a bucket would be needed and doubtful enough to know that other mothers out there would appreciate us keeping our germs to ourselves.

So since no one was upchucking and no one was running fevers, just tummy aches and overall feeling icky, we were able to snuggle and rest and in the words of my daughter, “sometimes your body just needs a sick day.” And I couldn’t agree more.

We spent time reading a new book, which we can’t decide if we like or not but I think it’s good enough and well written enough to keep going. It’s just that there are only 4 excruciatingly long chapters in the whole book, which doesn’t give us a good stopping point ever, and makes the kids feel like it will never end. Once the afternoon brightened our spirits, we headed outdoors for ping-pong, rip-sticking, and tennis playing, and yes, I was still in my PJ’s.

I cooked all day, it seems, from macaroni two ways (my three children hardly ever agree on anything–Amaleah always asks for buttered parmesan pasta when she’s sick, and the others were begging for macaroni and cheese, so I went halfsies and it worked out perfectly.) And then I decided to do a chicken stew with biscuits (a la Ina Garten), a recipe I’ve been wanting to make but never have enough time for all of the steps. (Of course, Luke could hardly eat any of this meal because he’s gone all Carb-free on me, which for some reason has this reverse reaction on me where I start eating enough carbs for the both of us, to make up for his loss).

At some point during this comfy day, my dad called and wanted to stop by, but then opted out of his self-invitation once I told him the kids were home sick. And I understand. But we proceeded to chat on the phone for a good while, which was nice and doesn’t happen enough. And it did leave me thinking deeply about my parents’ life, their neighbors, my neighbors, our future.

Because just this weekend yet another one of their long time neighbors was laid to rest, making three in about the last year. And these three are the ones that have been there the whole time, for as long as I can remember, because I grew up in that house, in that neighborhood, with those same neighbors. I played with their children, played in their back yards, drank their Kool Aid and ate their mac n cheese. I remember the boy on the corner who did something really nasty to my brother, and I remember how his mom used to leave out sun tea on her patio (Do you know anyone who does that anymore? My sweet 85 year old neighbor does)…

It’s just weird to think that it’s time for these neighbors to die. I told my dad he better not do that, and he told me he’s keeping up with his health and fitness regimen, for which I’m thankful…

Of course both he and I know that we can try to do what we can to keep our bodies healthy, but ultimately the Lord has the days of our lives numbered. And I chose not to worry about when my parents will die, although it’s a sad thought and I hate it and don’t get me started because I will be a basket case in a minute.

I think about our neighbors and wonder who will be here when we grow old, and even wonder if we will be here. Which ones will we grow old with? My dad shared that he wasn’t necessarily close friends with the man who died a few days ago, but they were good neighbors. They appreciated each other and new what to expect. They could be themselves around each other and not worry about what the other man thought. Just good neighbors.

And I wondered if good neighbors are even better than close friends (in a sense)? There’s just something comforting about the car that drives by every day at half past five and the wave that comes along with it. About watching the fence that had been broken down for far too long get fixed, and seeing that hole in the wall be filled in, observing the processes knowing that everyone can surely see our processes (or lack thereof). We live next to each other and we grow old together. That’s what I love about neighbors. And that’s what I love about staying put.

Not everyone has that, and they can revel in the wonder of meeting new people in many different places, a different kind of blessing. But for some reason I, just like my parents, seem to have been created for a good ol’ neighborhood with neighbors that stay put. And yes, that means they will see all the yuck. They will get annoyed with my overflowing recycling bin that blows into their yard (and they may even hang everything that blows into their yard up in their front trees–yes, our neighbor does this, don’t even get me started).

They might secretly get irritated at the noise Luke and I make late on Saturday nights as we practice music for church, or that our lawn is literally not a lawn at all and they may wonder if we even know what a hose looks like. But these neighbors are the very same ones who will knock on your door to tell you your lights are on in the car, or will team up and call the fire department with you when you think your other neighbor’s house is on fire (even if it was just meat being smoked in the back yard). They are the ones who will trust you with their babies and pick your kids up from school, who will lift up a carport that fell over in a storm, and who will take care of your kitty for like three weeks in a row even though they’re allergic to cats.

And it squeezes my heart tight to think that we all might be attending each other’s funerals some day. But in the end, I want that. And I see the poignancy in my parents’ neighborhood, and in their lives. They are facing a new time, a new phase of life, and it’s a lot to take in. It’s emotional, being on the other end of life and looking back, and seeing your friends and neighbors pass away.

I’m not sure where all this is going, or where it should go, but maybe it can just be food for thought for you, to consider where you are and see the future in it, and to consider those who’ve gone before you as they look back and consider their past. We are all looking ahead or behind, and it takes a sensitive heart to empathize and care.

And appreciate your neighbors, friends. They may be at your funeral someday.

And to lighten the mood, a look at my kiddos on Halloween…

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