Yesterday I wrote about the death of my neighbor, whom I knew only as John. I received a message later that day from a friend of mine, Dean Walker, who wrote:
“Melody, I once wrote a poem about a neighbor who had passed away that no one knew. I just posted the poem “The Hermit” at deanwalker.wordpress.com. I’m dedicating it to John.”
“August 5, 2011
(Dedicated to John, and all the “All the Lonely People” as the Beatles sang).
By all appearance, he was an ordinary man.
On weekdays he would leave for work
by eight a.m. and be home just after seven.
The curtains were always drawn
so the neighbors could only see the T.V. glow,
which always went off at twelve.
On weekends he stayed at home.
Always alone, always with the T.V. on.
He never had guests, no friends or family.
As a mail clerk, no one talked to him at work.
Nor did he ever attempt to talk to anyone.
Some say that he didn’t even own a phone.
I really don’t know. I never talked to him.
Although, he lived next door.
He died of an unknown or natural cause.
There was no funeral.”
Then I received the following poem from a friend of mine, who also knew John. She has asked to remain anonymous but has allowed me to share her words with you.
“Melody, personal angel to John,
Whose soul is now lifted by her wings;
He leaves this Earth without knowing
That she was his champion at the end.”
I replied: “I didn’t know you were a poet, and what a beautiful poem. Writing is my way of dealing with the sadness. Now, with my story, and Dean’s and your poems, it feels more like a celebration. It’s like we’ve waked him. After all, the ceremonies are always for the ones left behind.
“Thank you for your thoughtful and loving words. I choose to think that somewhere John has noticed and appreciated our belated efforts.”
And thank you to everyone who responded with kindness to the loss of a man who they did not know. Thank you for being my village, for sharing my sadness and for easing my grief by sharing it.