The Gift of Reflection that Prompted Me to Meet Up with an Old Neighbor

July 31, 2017

I follow a neighbor from over ten years ago on Instagram and we are also friends on Facebook. She recently posted a picture of her former house, which was right beside the first house my husband and I built and bought together. In her post she expressed her love for all that occurred within the walls of that home.

It was the house she brought her adopted newborn baby home to. It is where she created good and powerful things, including an entire organization designed to spawn creativity in those wishing to seek it.

Her post went on to briefly, but eloquently, describe all that happened deep within her own soul while she lived in that house.

She now lives in Texas.

When we lived beside one another, we often exchanged cordialities and conversed on our tiny lawns. We went inside her peaceful house when her baby was just a few days old and gazed at him in the bassinet. We learned who he was named after and made sure not to touch him because at least we knew you don’t just touch someone’s newborn baby. And, we played with him on our front steps when he was old enough to toddle over.

We heard loud music and singing coming from her closed windows. Music that was being created and played, not on a radio or sound system, but on instruments as it was written note-by-note within those walls. The voice, dulled by the walls between us, was our neighbor’s.

She brought us a few CDs one time as a gift.  The music was beautiful. Her voice was unmistakable.

Well, that and her images were also on the covers, so we knew for sure the voice was hers. 😉 But even if they were blank – we would have known.

If we came home later in the evening, we usually had to jockey for a parking space.  The street parking was filled with the cars of those who were inside of her house seeking direction from her gifts, or participating in the creative activity that was brewing inside.

We were always perplexed as to what exactly was going on. She didn’t strike us as the ‘party hard on a Wednesday night’ type.

In her Instagram post, she painted a vivid picture, with her words, of all that transpired within her heart in between the four walls and upon the beautiful double porches.  Porches, which under her green thumb, were clad with the freshest of flowers that cascaded from their pots as if they weren’t even tethered by their roots or bound by the soil.  A metaphor really, of the woman who lived inside creating and growing from her heart and refusing to be tethered by limitations of the earthly world.

We lived right next door and had no idea, or maybe we didn’t pay close enough attention.


Inside our four walls, bound on one corner by a wrap around porch, we were a young couple living a newlywed life. Working corporate jobs more hours than seem humanly possible. Coming and going quickly. Dinners and breakfasts out and weekend take out coffee on the front porch swing.  Lessons in love. Lessons in change. Lessons in loss. Experiencing ‘parenthood’ for the first time with a pair of puppies.  One of whom who has now left this world, leaving us with just images.

A lot was going on in our house too.  Nothing profound in a worldly sense, but profound in furthering a relationship and building a foundation of marriage.

Halloween - Neighbor

Newlyweds - Neighbor

And, as any good first-time dog parents, we have files and files of digital pictures of our first ‘babies.’

Bella and Zeppelin - Neighbor

And, we dressed them up for Christmas card photos.

Christmas Pic - Neighbor

Taking a good picture of two dogs is about as easy as taking good pictures of your children.  I speak from experience.  That photo is one of twenty-nine – a success rate of 3.5%.

I think they liked their sweater vests.  They always did have hot arms. 😉  Poor pups.

But, I digress.  My former neighbor’s recent Instagram post offered me a perspective. It isn’t very different than the one I had shortly after we both moved away, but perhaps it is clearer with more reflection and a little time.

I wish I had paid more attention and asked her more questions, so that I might have delved deeper in conversation and gleaned a piece of her perspective. I wish I had exerted more of an effort to express how I loved the CDs and how thoughtful it was of her to give them to us, although if memory serves I at least wrote a thank you note.

This is not because she is an accomplished singer and songwriter, but because the words in her post offered insight into some of what I should have known a little more about and didn’t really know much of at all.  She describes her house as a place where she “labored to find peace and understanding, learned to dream and lay down and lean solely on God for everything.”

Pretty profound goings-on right next door.

It is a good reminder that you never really know what is going on next door, or down the street.  Just like you don’t know the struggles or joys within those you encounter every day.

In reality, it probably is a good thing I didn’t pay as much attention because normalcy and anonymity are quite wonderful things.

But isn’t reflection such a gift?

Reflection provides a perspective on the present, brought forward from the past, which allows a greater grasp and appreciation for what is before you.

And, it offers a perspective of options for the future of how to do things differently (or the same).

In my reflection, after seeing her Instagram post, I wish I would have at least hollered a ‘heck yeah” her way.  Not because she needed it, but because she deserved it.

Thankfully, life does sometimes twist things in a way where you have an opportunity to make up for something you missed.

I saw on social media that she was coming back to the area to do a small performance, so as any good mom would – I dragged the kiddos along with me and took them to hear her sing.  My hubs was snoozing half way around the world in Hong Kong or else he would have come too.

And, much to the kids’ dismay (because after an hour and a half they were done), we waited after her performance to say hello.  A little line formed behind us and when she finished speaking with the band, I hugged her and I told her she was amazing.  “Wow.”  I said.  We chatted briefly and then, I stepped aside for all of the others who wanted to meet her.

And, that was that.  She did not need my ‘high five,’ but I am glad I took the opportunity to compliment her.  After all of these years, I just felt like it was the right and neighborly thing to do.

And, speaking of neighbors, if you are famous and move in next door to me or down the street I will probably drop off a breakfast casserole.  Not because I know who you are, but because you are probably hungry from your move.  Because regardless of whether I pay attention or not, I don’t really keep up with many famous people.  So, most (with a few exceptions like Mick Jagger, Willie Nelson, Reese Witherspoon and a few others I may or may not have written about like Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman) are pretty safe around me and can wallow in some anonymity.

And of course, there is that whole thing I wrote about Dale, Jr., but I wouldn’t have noticed him in Staples if that guy hadn’t said something to me!

In any case, your famousness ‘secret’ will be safe with me.  Just make sure that when I come over, casserole in-hand, you hide the Grammies, Emmys, Golden Globes, and whatever other awards are out there for famous people, and I will be none-the-wiser. 😉

Journey on in your reflections!
XO, Melissa the Mama Brain

P.S. I am giving your brain and my brain a break today – brought to you by a late night at the rodeo with friends.  Because… rodeo equals dirty babes, necessary late-night baths and a very tired mama.  But, I will be sure to share all about our rodeo fun with you this Thursday!

Rodeo - Neighbor

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