Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pirate Eye on Jack's Mtn

my neighbor Kate moved in next door not quite a year ago. i don't know if you've ever had a house sell next door to you and had that sinking feeling of not knowing who or what you were going to get for a new neighbor. i was not quite sure what to think when the "for sale" sign went up on the neighbor's house and it sold several weeks later. Kate was following on the heels of two incessantly barking neighbor dogs. so in one way, i was glad to see the old neighbors go (it's hard to be in grad school writing papers with two barking dogs interrupting your thought process every 1-2 minutes) and i was hopeful that my new neighbor would be a pleasant one.

a lot of people try intentionally not to become friends with their neighbors. i've heard this many times. "a good neighbor is one you never see." or "the best neighbor is the one you never think is home." but having Kate for a neighbor couldn't be farther off from these statements. you can't help but want to be a part of her spirit and her energy. she is the best neighbor you could ever wish for. when you've had a rough day, she invites you over for a cocktail and a pep-talk. she comes over to say hi to the dogs when you are stuck at work. she gives you fresh eggs from her backyard chickens. she waves and smiles (and sometimes flashes) through the living room window just to make you laugh. she is more than my neighbor (the best neighbor ever), she is my friend.

two weeks ago, Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer. it really sucks. a lot. it's hit her like a ton of bricks, but she continues to smile through all of the doctor appointments and stress. her life has been turned upside down, but she still has a pep-talk for me when i have a rough day at work (but let me tell you, my rough day at work doesn't seem so bad when i think of the alternatives). she keeps her sense of humor and says to everyone, "don't you dare give me cancer eye!" (that longing look of sadness and pity that people often give someone with cancer). so instead, we give Kate pirate eye. this is the look of strength and determination, and yes, after a hearty "aaarrrgh!" it typically brings some laughs too.

today, i walked up Jack's Mountain with the dogs. Jack was a little boy who died of leukemia several years ago, and his parents and the community named the mountain after him. there is a mailbox at the top where you can write notes in a journal. i like to think that little Jackie Jack is watching over us when we have friends in need. i like to think that because he had cancer, he will protect my friend and keep her strong throughout her battle. i left Kate a little note in the journal up on Jack's Mountain today. Aaaargh! stay strong, Kate!

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