Thursday, February 20, 2014

In Remembrance, Written with Love

This past weekend, my lovely, friendly, kind, sweet, brave, patriotic, outgoing, always-smiling, never-stop, 89 year-old neighbor passed away. He was in the navy during World War II. He won a purple heart. He still had nightmares about things he saw in the war. 

Three weeks ago he found out he had Stage 4 terminal cancer. He had been feeling badly for awhile and one of my other neighbors convinced him to go to the doctor with him. He is also a great soul. They both were very close.

Every morning at 5 a.m. my late neighbor and I would pass each other walking our dogs outside. His dog, Jenny, loved my dog, Rufus, and Rufus loved Jenny. She loved walking around and sniffing our front yard. I called them "long lost loves." After I got home from work, I would pass my neighbor again walking Jenny. He'd wait to catch my eye and give me a big wave from down the street and a huge, "Hello!" 

Every summer, he'd be out repaving his driving, mowing his yard, doing odd jobs around the yard. He was a strong and determined man. He and I laughed about our dogs. He was one of the kindest and most genuine people I knew. And he was always smiling.

I will miss his smile and his big waves. I will miss passing him while walking our dogs. I will miss seeing Jenny and swapping dog stories. He made my heart happy.

I wrote this poem years ago in college, but it seems fitting now. It makes me think of my lovely neighbor and his strength and how everyone needs someone by their side in hard times. I will miss him. I know he will be greatly missed by many. I thank him for his service and his kindheartedness. Thinking of you, your wife, Jenny, and your daughter.

This is in tribute to him. Willy, thank you for your strength, light, and happiness.

Strength In Numbers

The cactus in the entry hall gives it away.
He was a military man.
Bills stacked uniformly on the antique desk tell me
he had just arrived moments before.
The hallway light is off.
Darkness swallows the foyer.
I had been afraid of this.
Two gems beam through the darkness from the corner of the room.
Oscar runs out to greet me.
It is as if he knew why I was there.
I think he's relieved.
He races down the hallway before I can even bend over to scratch his ear.
He is braver than I.
You don't have to be strong.
You just have to be here.
Inch by inch, I creep into the sea of blackness,
hoping to emerge to find life at the other end.
But I know it won't be life as I had known it for so long.
I am prepared for that.

And now I feel it coming on--
a sudden and unexpected rush of stinging warmth
filling my eyes.
Dont. Stop. Not. Now.
Creeping farther down the hallway,
light finally begins to break the monotonous hum of the darkness.
Filling my lungs with air, 
I stiffly turn the corner.
His eyes, filled with disbelief, glaze over with fresh tears.
At the sight of me, his chest expands.
He lets out a sigh--almost an energy filled with relief.
I lower myself on the chair next to his.
Reluctantly, I offer my hand.
I finally let go of my fears and my emotions.
I think I see him smile.
With tears welling up in his tired eyes,
he opens his mouth and reassures my instincts,
"You don't have to be strong for me. I'm just glad you're here."

Love and happiness <3 Holly

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