My neighbour died yesterday afternoon. He was taken to hospital by ambulance mid-afternoon. Two hours later, his wife returned home looking ghostly pale and heartbreakingly grief-stricken.
He was 65 years old with a wife and three beautiful children, the youngest of whom is in first year university.
I did not know him well as we just moved onto the street ten months ago. However, whenever I had the chance to speak with him he was warm and friendly and fiercely proud of his three kids. He had an endearingly gentle way about him and always a friendly word for my kids as they played hours of ball hockey outside his house last summer.
Even though I did not know him well, I knew that he was loved by his wife, his children, his family and his friends. And I had the privilge of bearing witness to the depth of that love yesterday afternoon and evening.
Fifteen minutes after being driven away by ambulance, the first of his friends and family started to arrive at their house. They arrived with casserole dishes, hugs and palpable affection for each other.
And as the afternoon wore on, kids, parents, old people, and young people just kept arriving. And when his wife returned from the hospital she would have been enveloped into the warm, welcoming and loving bosom of her friends and family who were waiting to help hold her family in their embrace.
When I went to bed last night at 10:00, the gathering of loved ones was still going strong. And as I settled into sleep I felt absolutely full. Full of the sadness of a loving and gentle life ending, and full of the outpouring of love in which his beloved family was being so tenderly held.