Thursday, July 01, 2004

Good Neighbor & Good Brother

Published June 2004

My neighbor Liz and her two sons lost their beloved husband and father quite suddenly last week. It was the day before father’s day and death came unexpectedly as a thief in broad daylight. Dan was at the golf course where his son works, enjoying the beautiful weather with his friends and neighbors when he collapsed and died. The trauma of trying to resuscitate him and the terrible task of calling his wife and comforting his son must have been a nightmare everyone wanted to wake up from. One need hardly imagine the shock and sorrow of the day and the lifetime ahead of trying to understand why. It is the day which serves as the marker for the rest of their lives –understanding that the whys may never be answered and new coping skills will be learned in order to carry on without him.
Good neighbor Dan is gone and we’re void of the words to express to his family how sorry we are and we’re full of regret.

Regret, for us, is that we did not know Dan as well as neighbors should. We knew him from admiring his yard, the changes he made to his home after he moved in a few years ago, and his interactions with his sons. We knew him in his comings and goings to and from work, walking his beagle with his wife, hanging out with his boys and their friends. He seemed quiet, yet he always returned a friendly wave of hello as we passed his house. Last week we lost the potential of a closer friendship with Dan. That is our regret. Our vow is to better our friendship with his family.

Our sister in law, Kate, and her three sons lost their beloved husband and father three years ago last February. Dan was in his early 40’s and home recovering from minor shoulder surgery when he collapsed and died in his bedroom. The trauma of finding him and calling paramedics to a hopeless situation must have been a nightmare for his wife and sons. We do not want to imagine it because sudden death robs us of our breath. It kicks us in the gut and causes the momentum of the earth to stop for several hours while trying to comprehend the facts – “He was here just a moment ago, I talked to him just last night and now he’s gone”. I’ll never forget the day I had to tell my husband his brother had died.

Good brother Dan was gone and we were full of regret.

Our regret was that we didn’t telephone Dan or see him as often as brothers and sisters should. He always called us first. We admired his character, honesty and fortitude. He was a man devoted to his family and active in scouts and sports with his boys. His countenance was pure goodness. We never heard him utter an unkind word against anyone. Death robbed us of the opportunity to tell him how much we appreciated him and there was no time for “goodbye” or “we love you”. Our vow is to strengthen our family ties to his wife and our nephews.

Procrastination, like sudden death does nothing to stand down regret. Life is full of good neighbors and good brothers. Spend more time getting to know and appreciate them.

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