Tuesday, September 23, 2014

To One of the Good Guys

They’re neighbors.  It’s what they do.

You know the story about the Good Samaritan?  

It starts with a question: Who is my neighbor?  Steve and his friends show what it means to be a neighbor to anyone who needs help.

And he’s still doing it, even as he spends his last few days in a hospice.

A week or so ago, one of Steve’s neighbors got some of his mail by accident.  He rang the doorbell and noticed something wrong.  The side of Steve’s face seemed to sag.  Steve couldn’t grasp the envelopes when they were handed to him.  It appeared he was having a stroke.  They called 911.  A scan found two tumors in his brain.  Inoperable.  The doctors gave him less than a month to live.  

They took him from the hospital right to hospice.

Just like that.

It’s a moment that snaps you back into reality and puts everything into focus.  

Reminds you that this phase of life is limited.  And that things can change really fast.  One day, you’re helping a neighbor fix a garage door.  The next day, you’re in a hospice bed.

We only get so many days.

Only so many chances to embrace someone you love and tell them how you really feel.
Only so many chances to remind someone of the many ways they are remarkable.
Only so many chances to make a new friend and hug an old one.
Only so many chances to plow the neighbor’s sidewalk, fix the garage door, trim the shrubs.
Only so many chances to make a difference in your neighborhood, in your community, in your world.
Only so many moments to transform with your unique expression of love.

And that’s the truth of it.  So don’t waste them.

Over the weekend, my sister and brother-in-law visited Steve in his hospice.  As soon as he saw them, he broke into a big smile and stretched out his arms in a welcome.  Said a few words the kids shouldn’t hear, too.  But that’s OK.

He wanted to know what was going on in their lives and whether there were some way he could help, even as he was confined to a bed.  

He understands what’s happening to him, how the tumors will quickly overrun his brain and it will soon be time to move on to the next phase of life.  He’s trying to wrap his arms around that too.

“Can’t worry about it, he said. What am I going to do? Besides, I have a nice room with a nice view.”

He’s turning his last few weeks into one more gift, a lasting reminder of what really matters.

We’re all neighbors.

Never miss a chance to do what neighbors do.

~The Neighbor

Till our paths cross again U. Steve.

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