(This was first published in October of 2020. Alice Hahn passed away August 8, 2020.)
My next door neighbor died in a car accident two months ago. I miss her. I miss her when I walk out my back door and she is not across the driveway hanging her laundry. I miss her on a Saturday morning when she is not working in her garden and we give each other big hellos. I miss her because her Halloween decorations are not up. Especially the fluttering bat that she would hang in her front porch. Her house was always the last one that we stopped at on Halloween night after I had taken the kids through the rest of the village. She always gave me a little bag of candy even if I was not dressed up.
I was in my backyard yesterday and I was standing near the spot where last April we had a conversation. She was on her side of the fence doing some yardwork and I was on my side of the fence on the phone with someone from work. It was one of those mid-April mornings where there was enough winter left over that the air was cold but the sun was gaining and every minute was getting warmer.
I got off the phone and walked over to the fence to say hello. She stopped what she was doing and we chatted. We were talking about the state of the world, the pandemic and what we were doing to try and keep our minds occupied. At one point she started to tear up and talked about how the one year anniversary of her husband’s passing was coming up in a month. We talked about our families and how lucky we were to have such strong families that we could turn to and lean on at times like this. By the end of the conversation I also had tears in my eyes.
When we finished up she went back to her yardwork and I walked away from the fence. I didn’t go right back in the house but stood in a spot where the morning sun was shining. I stood in that spot and let the sun warm my face. I thought about how lucky I was to have a next door neighbor who could make me feel better after our conversation than I was feeling before we talked.
I miss you, Alice. I hope you are doing well.