Until recently. My to-the-left-side neighbor recently lost his wife. It was unexpected, undiagnosed pancreatic cancer. She went in for what could have been appendicitis and a week later she was gone. We exchanged a few conversations as I was coming and going over the garbage toters, but that's the extend of it. I never knew his wife well, just that she was a sweet lady that waved every time she saw me. Millie. It's a sweet lady's kind of name.
A couple of weeks ago, Harry, the new widower, told me that he was going out of town to Washington State to visit some family and keep an extra eye on the house. He'd shaved his beard and cut his long hair, they were the things that Millie loved him to keep, and so for as long as he's lived next door, he kept them. I suspect that with her gone, he needed a little transformation to let her go little by little.
He has impeccable timing when it comes to catching me in a hurry, but under his current life's circumstances, no matter what I'm rushing out the door for, I always stop and lend him an ear and a few moments. After all, what good are you neighbors if you can't chit chat with them in passing?
This morning as our shared gardener and him talked about the lawn, I wandered over and said hi.
Right away he said:
"Hey I met a gal."
"You did? Awww, that's nice."
"She said she knows you."
"Oh, really?" (now I'm thinking it was just someone he ran into out and about and not a new love interest)
"Yeah, she said you took a report from her a while back."
"A report? Must have been a while ago. I haven't taken a report in a long time."
"She lives right back here about 7 houses down."
"Oh, OK maybe I did then,but that would have been at least 10 years ago."
"Yeah, she's lived here for quite some time."
"Remember when I went to Washington a few weeks ago?"
"Well, my daughter decided to sign me up on my Apple for an online dating service and that's how I met her."
(I just smiled, I felt the goodness of where this story was just about to go.)
"We got to talking and getting along pretty quickly and I was just sitting there scratching my head up in Washington when I found out that she lives like 7 houses down the street from here."
(me still smiling, listening to him talk about meeting someone online that was practically living in his backyard...oh, Universe, you are speaking directly to me again)
"Really? THAT is so close, that's crazy. How cool is that?"
"So we met over dinner and you know, I'm still dealing with what happened with my wife, but I saw this gal and it was like love at first sight."
(cue big grins, happy feelings, all that jazz, this story makes me smile on the inside)
"Awwww, that's sooo great. I totally believe in that stuff. I'm happy for you."
"Yeah, but with everything that I've just been through, we're just getting to know each other. We're starting out as friends first. You know, Millie and I were friends first. If you don't start a relationship as friends first, you're just spinning your wheels. It's the key."
"Oh, Harry, you're the Universe speaking to me right now. I've been having this conversation in my head and out loud with someone who I know who used to live right in our backyard too. He's one of my best friends, but he didn't know that until I told him that recently."
Harry's turn to grin at me.
"Well, it just blows my mind that she lives so close, so we'll see how it goes."
"Well, I think it's great and you better keep me informed. I wanna know where this goes too."
Love stories are everywhere. "Chance" meetings are not always so. I'm firm believer that people are brought into each other's lives for a direct purpose. I believe in friends first. I believe that people are meant to be together but it's all about timing.
Harry and Millie made a promise to be each other's "to death do us part." Death parted them. Quickly, unfairly, , but still love always remains. To see him struggle and get by the "best that could be expected" over the last few weeks made my heart sad for him. To now see him smile about his new, quick, and unexpected turn of events made my morning today.
"There is never a time or place for love. It happens accidentaly, in a heartbeat, in a single, flashing, throbbing moment."
~ Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever