When Neighbors Become Friends

In my adult life, I've lived in three states, with six different addresses. With a career that has always included more than a fair amount of travel, and choosing to live somewhere other than where I grew up...making new friends has been somewhat of a challenge, if not downright impossible some years.

Have you ever had the joy of a neighbor becoming a friend? And maybe even experienced the rare beauty of a neighbor becoming such a close friend that they are like family?

My next door neighbor passed away five months ago. After a hard-fought battle with pancreatic cancer. With the pandemic, many of us could not visit her in her final weeks, or attend the funeral, or console each other with a hug or embrace.

She and I were close. Maybe not the same kind of close that I had with my grandmother in my youth; but she was one in a million. And, I mean literally, one in a million.

She played a prominent role in my adult life. More than I could have possibly imagined when we bought the house next to hers seven years ago.

These days, I try to help out occasionally with her widower. He and I know each other, but not well. We are almost 50 years difference in age; and there's this global pandemic that seems to be keeping so many of us on edge. Like germs might be lurking on every surface and around every corner.

He left me a voicemail today. I listened to it before my afternoon meeting. He was making homemade ravioli and was wondering if we wanted some. I called him back. He seemed delighted to hear from me. He said he'd call when it was ready.

My work day was long; but it also included some fun. My husband and I had been invited to a virtual wine tasting, a Christmas party of sorts, for a leadership team I support. It was at the end of the day, and I'm so very grateful I had the opportunity to attend. It was so good to see everyone, even if only in little "Brady Bunch" squares on the Zoom. About 40 minutes into the virtual event, my phone rang. It was my neighbor. The ravioli was ready. I messaged the team and my husband and I politely excused ourselves.

We ended up visiting with my neighbor for almost two hours this evening. It was delightful. He had intended to just give us a container of what he had made. We walked in with a bottle of wine. We wore our masks until we were all settled some distance apart. We sat and talked. And we talked and talked and talked. We ended up eating together.

On a leadership call this morning, I mentioned that without the business travel, I haven't seen some close colleagues for over a year. That without the trips, all ability to spend time with close work friends has completely disappeared. That even as an introvert, I'm starting to get restless. I miss the business dinners. The conversations. The intellectual discussion and banter.

How absolutely perfect that today included the virtual wine tasting and an invitation to spend time with my neighbor.

"Maybe Christmas he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" - Dr. Seuss