Our next door neighbor died this morning.

As the medical staff poured into the house, we watched and prayed.  A moment of hope when an EMT rushed out and back in with an oxygen container.  Tears flowing when his wife came out onto their back porch crying with a friend minutes later.

It’s almost two in the afternoon now, and family and friends have been steadily flowing in and out.  Those friends’ small children laughing and playing in the back yard together.  Hugging and sometimes a laugh or two coming from the adults in the gazebo.  Remembering and mourning.

Paul was a very gentle fellow.  I’ll miss him walking their ol’ dog Nigel.  I know Nigel will miss that too.  A couple of months ago, my son and I helped move in some new kitchen cabinets they were installing, after years of wanting it.  A month or so before that, Paul had given us his big screen t.v. from his “man-cave.”  I remember a couple of years ago, him telling me how excited he was to get his first social security check in the mail.  To him it was confirmation that he’d really retired and was looking forward to trips ahead.  A week ago they’d returned from a week-long trip to the 1,000 Islands, excited that Nigel was allowed to go with them.

Life is here and gone in a flash.  I’d seen him out in his back yard only late morning yesterday, pulling some branches out of trees from a recent windstorm.

Beloved, don’t waste any time, okay?  Got something in mind?  Go and do it.  Want to be a different person?  Go about doing that.  I didn’t know Paul all that well – we’d never talked but for a few minutes at a time every once and awhile.  I knew he liked jazz, traveling to New Orleans, and the Cleveland Browns.  I knew he was a bar tender in town for years.  I know he had lots of friends.

I hope he thought of me as one of them.