Life is funny sometimes. Sometimes it is not. And sometimes it just ends.
After my earlier post about regret, I never expected to be talking about loss, but when something disturbing occurred in my neighborhood this morning, I realized just how much the two go hand in hand.
Loss can encompass so many things: lost love, lost relationship, and worst of all, lost life. This morning, my elderly neighbor passed away. It happened suddenly because he had just come home from his morning run for coffee and a paper, and less than an hour later, the EMT’s came. When they sat at the bottom of the stoop, I had a feeling it was not good news and soon learned my neighbor had passed in his apartment. It made me very sad.
These days most people don’t even know their neighbors, especially in a large city. Do you know your closest neighbor’s name? Few people do. People tend to mind their own business and I suppose for the most part, that is a good thing; on the other hand, it can make a sense of community impossible to achieve. No one gathers on porches or stoops like they once did. Fact is, the only time I recall a large gathering of neighbors was on Sept. 11, 2001. Everyone talked to each other then, and it was nice.
Unlike many city-dwellers, I speak to people in my neighborhood when I pass them in our building. This particular gentleman lived in the next apartment, so we passed each other often. I got to know him a bit, and I knew his name. Like most older people, he had his routine, and I found it a comfort to know that he went out at a particular time and came in at a particular time. The most we ever conversed was during the winter when he would go outside and shovel the sidewalk. He didn’t have to do this; we have people to do this. But he wanted to do something constructive, to contribute, stay in shape and feel needed. We all loved him for it, as seldom did the service come before we had to leave for work. He did a lot of nice things around the building. He was a nice man.
I suppose most people would not even notice should something happen to their neighbor. A lot of folks would pay little attention, especially if they were not inconvenienced in some way. Maybe I am overly nostalgic, but this building, this neighborhood and this person…me…will be less without Tom. His name was Tom.
Godspeed Tom, we may not have known each other well, but I knew you were there and I will miss you. I’m glad we met.