Just Down the Street

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My wife and I were walking to town
with our dog, Binx, when our kindly neighbor,
Rachel, rushed over to us from her house
across the street. She’d just been diagnosed
with lymphoma, she said, and would start chemo
treatments next week. Her nurse, standing
in her driveway, waved. We know her well enough
to say hello, smile when passing. Once my wife
and I helped her find her lost dog, for which
she’s thanked us repeatedly. Now her large
quiet blue eyes look frozen with, what – disbelief?
Struggling with words, perhaps she’s hoping
we can tell her what to think and feel. Despite
the pandemic, we all hug, and she cries, won’t
let go of our hands. She has our phone numbers,
we say, call if there’s anything we can do. Then,
continuing our journey, once again it’s a beautiful
Tuesday afternoon in early fall, the elms, maples
and sycamores lush with expectation. Their silence
feels earned, a source of profound comfort and faith.
Yes, here we are again, alone together, improvising
answers to questions waiting just down the street.