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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

His Name Was Chat

Not sure why I never made it over to see our neighbor across the street. I thought I had more time than i did. It seems like yesterday I saw him getting in his friends car dressed in his best, confident, strong - but my memory of yesterday was in fact 3 years ago. I've been busy raising kids and going about my busy life by my agenda. I had good intentions for years. Envisioned myself bringing a meal, writing a note to say "Hi neighbor! I take notice in your life!"

I second guessed myself every time a good intention was contradicted by the other thought; "he doesn't want to be bugged", "what do I have to offer him anyway", "what if it's not a good time", "I don't want him to feel I'm intruding or put pressure on him to be a good neighbor", the list goes on.

Well, instead of living with whatever awkwardness could have evolved from my visiting I have to live with the regret for the fact that I never tried.

His name was Chat. He was a man of many years old which means he had a great amount of wisdom and stories to tell. Even a little history of the street we live on - what it used to be, what he remembers of life and how much things have changed - would have been gift enough of knowing this man. I have longed for these stories and more simply, to give and receive a genuine smile.

Weeks before his death, he was dying in his home with "weeks to live" while cancer choked the life out of him. My husband was called upon a number of times to help transfer Chat to the bathroom or to his bed. I am ever so thankful that Ben had the opportunity to give and love in that way. At that point there wasn't much conversation. Chat breathed deep, long breaths and each day they got shorter and shorter. The dialog, however, exchanged between my husbands face and his was everything and more that I could ever hope to let him die knowing about us - and for us to live knowing about him.

The evening before he was transferred to Trillium Woods (Hospice Care) I planned to bring an egg casserole to the family as they cared for him. The next day I loaded the kids in the van to pick up Liam from school and I noticed the ambulance. I watched in shock as the paramedics carried a stretcher to the front door. My heart sank. I felt so out of control standing there not able to do anything. I looked at the time and if I didn't leave then I would be late for Liam. I got in the van pulled out and then stopped at the end of our drive way. I got out of the car, ran across the street and saw Chat's sons and daughter standing outside as the paramedics took control inside. I asked, "is there anything I can do? I planned on make an egg casserole for you this evening for you to have tomorrow morning." They were thankful but informed me that he was being transferred to Trillium and that no one would be there. I couldn't fight the tears. I started to cry and said "I am so sorry you are going through this." All three of them started to cry. I realize now that sharing in their sadness was likely the best gift I could have given.

I was just hoping to impart into Chat while he was still living, before he was dying. I will not carry shame or regret with this long term. God is bigger than all of this - and in the end He did in fact use my husband to show him love. Very few of us have the honor of being with someone in their dying days like Ben did. Maybe that's exactly what God intended.

We influence more people than we realize. It is seldom brought to our attention when our life touches another. Who knows who is watching and picking up on the little bits of good we share with the world. It is so important to make doing good a part of our daily life because people need it - and since we are human we cannot always be in tune with God's leading. When God leads, there's nothing to figure out. You do it. But our uncertainty can make us lose out on great opportunity.

The right time may never come. We are all waiting for this ah-ha moment to throw us into doing good. I'm beginning to realize it's less about when we feel is the opportune time and more about doing it because the thought crossed our mind. Maybe the gesture of doing good is for the person we're doing it for and not about the feeling we get inside. Yes, I'm sure of this.


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~ a memoir of motherhood and life