Several years ago when my beagle Linus was still alive and living with my parents in upstate NY, we would go on nice long walks around the neighborhood together. He’d stop to sniff around or do his business (always in someone’s yard) and I’d look at the many new houses and developments that kept popping up in the area. Though my parents have lived there approximately 15 years, they hadn’t really met anyone who lived on their street. It was a neighborhood of strangers. No one welcomed them with gift baskets of homemade treats when they moved in (does anyone do that anymore?) and there wasn’t anyone to to call on to bring in the newspapers if a trip took them to faraway places.
So I was shocked when a kind woman called out from her driveway as Linus and I walked past one day.
“I’m sorry… He gets distracted and likes to sniff around,” I smiled.
“Oh, I know… I have a lab here that does the same. Max!”
A beautiful black lab came out from behind the hedges. Tails wagged and Linus and Max became fast friends.
“My name is Sandy.” Her eyes sparkled as she reached out to shake my hand. “Been livin’ here 12 years and I’ve never met a neighbor.”
She instantly became a favorite. She invited me over to swim in her pool and I eventually met her boyfriend and daughter. On summer nights, we’d sit in her gazebo and listen to an orchestra of crickets. My visits were usually brief, but always sweet. Sandy was good peoples and I was happy to see her whenever I stopped by my parent’s house.
A few years ago, my father called to tell me Sandy had died of cancer and he read her obituary to me over the phone. My heart sank for her beautiful family and I mourned the loss of her free spirit.
Cancer isn’t a stranger in my family. We’ve had a few scares over the years and both my grandparents died from cancer-related illnesses. In a time of merry-making, tree decorating, indulging, and gift-giving, I think it’s important to stop and remember those who are sadly no longer with us. Please take a minute to watch the video. The message is an important one: imagine a world with less cancer and more birthdays.
Thanks, Sandy, for your friendship and I wish you a happy Hanukkah. If you see Linus, please give him a big kiss and tell my Oma and Opa that I love and miss them both dearly.
This post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.