My Friend Next Door


When we first moved into our current house, we tried to meet our neighbors. Paul, the neighbor to our left, has turned out to be a good friend. He was once a highly intelligent physicist but a few years ago he got in an accident that made him severely handicapped, both mentally and physically. And now he lives a simple life at home. His wife runs their salon here in town.

Paul has become a friend. He shoots the pigeons on my roof with his BB gun. I take out and return his garbage cans each week because it is a physically difficult chore for him to do. We talk baseball, stock market and pigeon hunting.

A couple days ago, Paul knocked on my door. I could tell something was wrong. He told me that the night prior, his wife died just after 5:30. It was completely unexpected and you could tell his heart was broken. I joined him in his sadness.

I had two thoughts when he told me the news.

First, the Gospel is an incredible blessing to have in one’s life. Can you imagine how perfectly it could heal the situation? It promises Paul a return to a healthy body and a strong mind. It also offers the knowledge that he’ll see his wife again.

Yesterday, I asked Paul about his beliefs. In an effort to “lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees“, I told him what I know to be true. I invited him to learn more and I think he’ll accept that offer.

My second thought is how incredibly unpredictable life can be. I did not know Paul’s wife as well, but we were friendly. With Paul’s physical challenges, surely they assumed he would pass first and they had been planning that way.

Even with the Gospel and the promise to see loved ones again, losing a family member is incredibly difficult. It’s certainly more difficult when there is little or no notice on their departure.

Paul has reminded me to be clear with my heart and feelings with my loved ones and make time for the things most important.