He died at the end of 2020 a month before Husband and I bought the home next door.
The only way we know him is through the stories and snippets Neighbor shares.
Those have been plentiful. It almost feels as if we’ve met the two of them together.
From the moment we met Neighbor, she informed us that she intends to move, to leave this place and head to a bigger city. Her husband moved on, now she must, too.
We didn’t believe her. Partly, we couldn’t imagine anyone leaving this incredibly beautiful spot, especially since the two of them lived here for 40 years. Then there is our own selfishness. She is beyond a treasure of a human, teaching us the ways of the marsh, showing us everything from how to go crabbing, the best netting to wear to keep out the countless bugs and critters, which bush not to cut back if we want the painted bunting birds to nest nearby.
And yet, her mind was made up. She has spent the last year cleaning up and cleaning out, hence finding the mystery slingshots.
We have not been allowed to borrow a single thing from her. Everything we need must be taken away and not returned. She has said it is the biggest gift we can give her.
I’ve watched this dance with interest and a caught breath, realizing this stage of life is not happening to only her. She is simply ahead in line.
It will come for us.
We feel young and healthy and strong. And yet, the calendar tells us we are closer to Neighbor’s stage of life than we are far.
“If we don’t die together one of us will face this same situation.” I pointed out to Husband. “Do you stay here or go? What do you do with all the stuff?”
And what do you do with all the questions? How can two people share a lifetime of love on a remote point, just the two of them, and still have slingshots to discover?
It’s not like I have a single coherent thought this week. Just a lot of questions.
Do we all pass on leaving mysteries behind?
What’s Husband’s version of unknown slingshots?
How long do you spend appreciating this moment in the present knowing it’s all going by in a flash?
This is what I will talk about with Husband.
Today, far into the future, and beyond if he is the first to go.
Chalk it up to another lesson from Neighbor.
The conversation never ends.
Daryn Kagan is the author of the book “Hope Possible: A Network News Anchor’s Thoughts On Losing Her Job, Finding Love, A New Career, And My Dog, Always My Dog.” Email her at Daryn@darynkagan.com.