Nearly eight years ago on the second weekend in September, our next door neighbors moved into their house on the corner as we were moving into ours. We introduced ourselves as they pulled weeds and we carried furniture from our garage into our house.
From that temperate fall weekend until the present, the family next door has felt a little like an extension of my own little nuclear family. Our children have constantly played together both indoors and out. Between our two families, there are boys aplenty (seven, to be sure), and one lovely and caring girl who is really just one of the guys.
We have shared eggs and sugar, tortillas and Coca-cola, spaghetti and hornet spray. We have seamlessly babysat each other's little ones trillions of times. We have whined about our troubles while sitting on the lawn as our kids played. We have laughed about random things while walking with our brood to the park or the gas station for sodas.
In eight years time, the comings and goings of my family and the family next door have been so closely aligned, I sometimes wondered HOW we were so lucky to live next door to the kindest, funniest, greatest neighbors on the planet.
The mom next door (let's call her B Doozy, just for kicks) is one of a handful of people who really, truly knows the ins and outs of my life with Jack. And with Charlie. And with the other children who I'm raising while I handle the craziness of just Jack's boyhood alone.
B gets it. She has helped me clean up poo. She's held my baby while I carried a melting Jack to a time-out spot where he can't throw things at anyone. She picked up Henry from kindergarten regularly for an entire year while I was picking up Jack from his private autism preschool 40 minutes away. She babysits Jack in her own house--welcomes him there, with trains and vacuums, and isn't one bit worried about how he might destroy something. She once sent her husband over to lift Jack into the car when he wouldn't get in and kept biting me, and we needed to be at the doctor's appointment NOW. She has brought me dinners when I've had babies, and once after a difficult diagnosis for one of my sons she brought me a raspberry chipotle salad for lunch just because I was sad and she was thinking of me.
My neighbor B is that rare type of angelic person who sees the world with pure compassion. She doesn't tell you to buck up and try a little harder. She doesn't gossip about my troubles or judge my really atypical family dynamic. She just listens. And she genuinely cares.
My neighbor B has helped me better understand what it means to have charity.
The bad news is that B and her family are moving 3000 miles away this week. The good news: she can't get rid of me. We will always be friends.
She has told me before that her family felt guided to this neighborhood and this house in particular, though she wasn't sure why. I've told her I am unequivocally positive that God made her my neighbor because He loves me. I'm pretty sure that He knows just exactly how kind-hearted and sincere B Doozy is, and He knew just exactly how she would bless my life with her friendship.
I'm so truly grateful that our paths crossed, that our friendship will last, and that for eight years of our lives, we got to be best next-door neighbors.