We moved into our house in Gold River over 8 years ago. Our direct neighbor for the first 6 years was an older gentlemen named John. He lived alone having lost his wife a few years past. They had chosen not to have any children and lived a very full life childfree. His home was filled with so many interesting books and artifacts from their journey together. The trade-off came at the end of his life when he was alone. We shared an affinity for Larry and Sheryl who had lived next-door to John for 17 years. They were friends in the truest sense: kept an eye on him, shared their family holidays and offered support when he needed it. When Larry and Sheryl moved out of the neighborhood, they left a void that I tried to fill by checking in with John more regularly. Our usual chatting spot was at the community mailbox - huge bonus for seniors living in the suburbs. Sadly, John struggled with cancer for the last year of his life and I saw him less and less.
About 3 years ago, a fire truck and ambulance showed up next door. I immediately assumed the worst, but thankfully John had made the call himself. He wasn't feeling well and needed help. He moved to Eskaton (a local care facility) and accepted the end of his life was near. Although we had not been close, I felt an attachment to my older neighbor. He reminded me of reclusive uncles and a family friend who had passed away alone. I worried about that for John. So I grabbed some magazines that I thought John might enjoy and headed over to Eskaton to read to him. Larry and Sheryl were caring for him and had warned me that he was only lucid for short periods. When I arrived he was asleep, but I settled in and read to him to let him know I was there. The nursing staff came to change his bedding, which woke him and made him uncomfortable. I tried to sooth him when they were done with a hand on his chest and some one-sided conversation. I eventually returned to my reading aloud, but kept a close eye on him until he seemed to relax a bit. After a few minutes of seeming really calm, I put my hand on his chest, felt him take his final breaths and peacefully leave this world.
After John's passing, Larry and Sheryl, as executors of his estate, began the long process of emptying and selling his home. I went along on their journey and ultimately got to assist their son Jared and his wife Evan purchase John's home. It really felt like John had blessed us all with friendship AND wonderful new neighbors. Jared and Evan were so warm and compassionate. We loved having them next-door. Sadly, their family was called to Washington for a job opportunity. Once again I was asked to help sell John's home.
One afternoon during an open house, my good friend Elyna came to drop off my kiddo after a sleepover and wandered into my open. Her family walked around for a bit and then declared they wanted to buy the house. We laughed. I didn't take them seriously at first, because although it would make a great house for them, it did not fit their initial house hunting criteria. Over the next couple days their interest not only lingered, but intensified. After a week or so of processing, they put together an offer. The whole process was a bit wonky at first. Representing both sides of a transaction can always be a little tricky, but when you have a personal relationship with both parties, its even harder. You don't want ANYONE to be disappointed. Real estate takes negotiating and compromising which can feel like a let down as expectations are adjusted. I live and work by the motto its all going to work out in the end, its just not the end yet. And sure enough with time, the pieces fell into place. Now my dear friend and her family have moved in next-door.
I cannot express how overwhelming this is for me. I feel certain that John is watching over this house and again giving the gift of friendship. Elyna and Paul have two boys too. This house will allow our boys to grow up together. John, who rarely came outside, loved hearing the boys play in the yard. He once shared that the laughter and yelling made him feel less alone. He would often bring them little gifts around the holidays and has now given them the ultimate gift of friendship. I can only imagine how important friendship was to John who was so comforted by his friends Larry and Sheryl at the end of his life.
Like most things, I am sure that it won't be as perfect and magical as we think. But I never want to forget how blessedly imperfect this process has been and what a magical moment it is to feel pieces fall into place. When Elyna and I met years ago, were we destined to grow old together? Or has our friendship guided us down the same path? These are the things I wonder about. Either way I am publicly committing to celebrating this gift. I remember when Randy and I got married, family advised us to always remember the joy we felt in that moment. It would help us get through the hard times. Well I am going to always remember this moment when one of my closest friends decided to marry her family with mine and move in next-door. Cheers to lots of love, laughter and yard work Barragan Family! I have no doubt that John will be watching over all four of our boys as they grow up together.