Sometimes I struggle in a sleepwalking mode, going from Monday to Sunday—work-home, work-home, work-home.  And then, something happens to awaken me, make me think about life, its importance, its value; the essential gift of life and living.

Two weeks ago, one of my neighbors passed away.  I did not know him; he recently moved very quietly next door and went about his business as most of us do.  On a Saturday morning I heard a lot of noise outside of my door and when I looked out of the window I could see the ambulance lights flashing and a crowd had gathered.  When I stepped outside to inquire what had happened one of the bystanders told me that the man next door had passed away.  It took some time for the paramedics and police to finish their business, but soon, it was mostly ‘back to normal’ in appearances for all intents and purposes for me and for this somewhat quiet neighborhood.

I don’t know whether my neighbor had family or friends, he lived alone, like me.  Ever since this event, I have had thoughts about how close this ‘visit’ from death was to me.  This occurrence has served to sober me and to get me thinking about my life and life in general.

The Sunday after my neighbor’s demise I decided to go to a Sunday Jazz Brunch that I hadn’t attended for a while.  This gathering is generally a highly celebratory ensemble that represents the best of a Southern-style Sunday morning during church or after church gathering that could lift any one’s spirits.  The percussionist that I have come to know always gives a spirited performance as well as the rest of the group.  When the percussionist stopped at my table for our usual greeting, I was teasing him that I had not seen him lately when I knew it was me who I thought had been ‘missing in action’.  My percussionist-acquaintance then told me that he had recently been ill. I was shocked, as he has always appeared fit and the picture of health.  I realized that with another ‘turn of fate’, I might not be here having this wonderful gentleman to greet on a cold but wonderful Sunday morning.

So friends, without waxing totally sentimental or philosophical, I am simply celebrating the moment, here.  I am also wishing you all the ‘Best of the Season’ and beyond. I am not sure that I am cured of my ‘sleepwalking mode’.  Nor am I cured of counting the minor aches and discomforts that time has gifted me with during these my middle-to-late years of life, but I am “alive”, by God’s grace.  I am celebrating as well so many gifts among the struggles of the past few years.  I am blessed with a highly spirited two-year-old granddaughter here in Houston, to join the other two in California that I left there when I moved to Houston more than four years ago.  I have a job and renewed career in teaching, albeit stressful and demanding; as well as a continued engagement with loving relationships near and far and hope as well as prayers for help with being more patient and open to those that tax me in terms of their attitudes and approaches to life that are different from mine.

All in all, I’m a ‘lucky girl’—living comfortably, sanely, and also a little insanely at times.  I’m just taking a minute to greet you and to thank you for being at the other end of this missive.  Also, I am hoping you and yours, much joy, health and hope in the New Year and of course I’m wishing you much more of the ‘gift of ‘life’.  Live well, be well, and “never forget the truth of love’