Our neighbor, whom I have written about before, is moving. His partner of 39 years died last fall and now my friend has been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of dementia. His brain is slowly dying and he is unable to stay in his little house on top of the mountain.
This year has been a year of change for him: his partner dying so suddenly; his partner's dog dying from grief just a few weeks later; losing his license; giving up his home; and, lastly, losing what is left of his clarity. Yet, he keeps smiling and telling me that "God isn't done with me yet" and "God must have something left for me to do." He while he understands the changes and, in his clearer moments, grieves them deeply.
Today he called me panic striken. Something was wrong with his dog -- a small toy poodle named Teddie who is 13 years old and has survived a jaw tumor removal which has left him looking like he is leering after something really tasty. Teddie was bleeding from the hindend and we couldn't tell what was wrong. After a very long ride (it seemed to me -- my friend was crying, sobbing, kissing, babbling to the dog all while the dog howled) the vet determined it was just an infected anal gland and the dog would be fine. This started another round of weeping, but at least it was tears of joy!
As we left Teddie with the vet overnight for treatment, I suggested we take the "scenic route" home and get a pop and candy bar to enjoy. At first my friend was still crying, but I kept talking to him about how lovely this time of year is and how this ride is my favorite in all our county. Finally, I got him to look up at the mountains. A slight haze gave them an even bluer colour than we normally have. The valleys rolled away from the mountain tops, giving us an extraordinary mixture of very straight rowed farmland tangled with trees and deep, dark places. Breathtaking!
My friend said to me, "I hate to leave these mountains, but I know it is right. It's just hard."
I patted his hand, "Change always is, sweetie. I hate for you to leave. It's hard."
And we smiled at each other with tear-filled eyes, took another swig of Cheerwine, and looked at the mountains. Somehow, I know, God will help him walk through his valley, just as He helps me, and we will both reach the mountain tops.