Two years ago, before we moved to our current home, our friends Jack and Jean who lived across the street from us for 10 years came for dinner for the first time, along with some other neighbors. At the end of the evening I found myself saying, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?It’s so easy to talk about getting together with friends, but never make it happen!

We moved first, then a year ago Jack passed away, and now Jean has moved out of the neighborhood.

I recently found myself thinking, “When neighbors move away, do they really drop out of each other’s lives for good?” Those words haunted me for a few weeks, until finally I picked up the phone and called Jean last week. Abby and I headed up to her new place, with flowers in one hand and Abby’s violin in the other, for a quick visit.

It was just like old times. Jean had the peanut M&M’s out on the counter, we reminisced about Jack and checked out her new dwelling.

I’m easily reminded of when Abby was 3 years old and she began playing the violin. About once a week she’d walk across the street, violin tucked under her little arm, to Jack and Jean’s to play her latest song, grab a baggie of M&M’s, rearrange some of Jean’s knick-knacks (Jean was so gracious to let her do this), and then she’d come back home.

Ten years later we found ourselves in Jean’s new living room catching up, discussing painful changes in life, reminiscing about the past and how much we miss Jack, and even shedding a few tears. Then Abby got her violin out. She played 3 Concerto pieces for Jean that she has been working on. Our time together was short, but sweet.

I could see on Jean’s face that she was walking down Memory Lane as Abby played. Jack and Jean saw Abby grow from a little 3-year old girl playing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to beautiful concertos, one of which Abby played at Jack’s memorial service last year.

When Abby and I left on that day, I explained to her once again the importance of giving gifts to older people in her life. The gift of listening, talking, sometimes just being there for them, and giving by sharing her talents. I explained that money and things do not matter to older people. I could see the wheels turning in Abby’s 10-year old mind. She was processing what I was saying, as her eyes lit up.

And I was reminded that neighbors move away, but in my mind they keep on living right across the street.

(Abby with darling neighborhood kids who live in our old neighborhood!)