I sat knitting and looking across the street at our dying neighbor’s house…I really need to get her some flowers and write her a card, I thought. I wanted to thank her for the kindness she showed me. Before I left for the monastery, she and her husband threw an art show of my work in their home for me, and I raised over $400. C. sat down on the bench beside me and said looking across the street toward our neighbor’s home, “She’s gone to heaven. She died yesterday surrounded by her family…I’m just glad she’s out of that body and at peace. It’s the rest of us that are sad and grieving, not her.” I sat quietly, letting this knowledge sink in. It was hard for me to comprehend that the woman I watched step into her jeep last week was no longer here. “I was just thinking about buying her some flowers,” I said…”Now it’s too late. Maybe I could give them to her family…” C. said, “Why don’t you buy yourself flowers instead?” She radiated a quiet peace. She had fought hard for her friend’s life, and now that the battle has been lost, she seems to have mysteriously accepted it. Now she’s supporting the living, potholder in hand from the muffins she just delivered to her grieving neighbor and his children.
A friend pulled up in her car, parking illegally in front of the fire hydrant. She came and gave C. a hug…I heard them speaking softly about the funeral arrangements, wiping tears from their eyes. She placed a gift on the front porch and left.
Death is not the ending that I desired for my neighbor. How do I hold her death? “In my end is my beginning,” T.S. Eliot writes in the epic poem “The Four Quartets.” Has she made a fresh start in a new form beyond space and time? I sit quietly savoring the warmth of the sunshine, the robin’s cascading song. The roses up the street near Candy’s house pour fragrance into the air.