My neighbor Ann Rawlings died. She was buried after her funeral yesterday. She is my neighbor . . . and my friend. She and her husband Bill moved in next to me seventeen years ago as a retired couple. I have grown to love them as if they are my own family.
When I walked into the viewing room and saw Bill seated in a chair next to Ann's casket with his head bowed I couldn't hold back the tears.
"I don't know what to do," Bill said while I put my arms around his neck.
Bill and Ann Rawlings truly love each other. On my dozens of visits to their home they always expressed their gratitude for life and retold the story of how they met.
While I sat at their kitchen table with Ann's daughters as they planned her funeral, I looked into their beautiful dark eyes and saw pieces of their mother looking back at me . . . the way she laughed . . . the way she held her hands. And I realized Ann lives on in those she left behind.
I've heard it said that we die when we've learned what we came to learn or when we've taught what we came to teach. I think Ann did both.
At her funeral her children remembered her soft hands on their cheeks and her spagetti dinners. It seems as though it is the little things we do that turn out to be the big things.
As her grandchildren and great-grandchildren walked to the stand at the church to sing "I Am A Child of God" at her funeral I waited at the piano to accompany them. In each face I saw a look, a smile, a gesture of my friend and neighbor.
Snow fell yesterday - a soft benediction to Ann's life . . . so filled with gentleness and grace.