Harry and I talk all the time about downsizing. Moving back into a smaller, simpler space – maybe a condo or something. But every time that conversation rolls around, we remember our neighbors. We are so lucky to live in a really, really good ‘hood.
We’ve got the Neideffers down the street, whose beautiful flowers we get to walk by on the way to school every morning. We’ve got the Goldsberrys who regularly drag their fire pit out to the driveway and gather up the neighborhood to have drinks and sing along as they play their amazing bluegrass. We’ve got 70-something-year-old Paul down the street who can be seen chopping down trees on his own. My wonderful friend and nurse practitioner Melinda lives right down the street and saved me an E.R. trip once. My kids have countless playmates all over the place. We are seriously lucky.
This neighborhood wraps its arms around one another – picking up each other’s kids from school, watching out for each other, bringing meals to those who are sick or recovering, even helping with hospice care as one faces their last days.
This family right here – this baseball-loving, taco-Tuesday, watching-out-for the neighborhood family – is a great one. We live two doors down, and constantly see them all playing in the backyard – usually some baseball, parents included.
When they moved to our neighborhood, it was at a busy time for my family. We kept saying, “We need to go meet them!” So one day playing in the backyard, we finally said that’s it, and marched on down in our bare feet. They welcomed us in, no judgement about the bare feet, and passed me a beer as our kids played together.
Many dinners and play dates, bonfires and babysitting later, we’ve grown pretty close, and our kids have, too. When something goes wrong in one of our lives, it’s “meet me out back for drinks on the patio when the kids go down.”
They’re the kind of neighbors who bring cups over to your kid’s birthday party because you ran out….
The kind of neighbors who cook you dinner and write a poem in support of the teachers when your husband is on strike….
They’re the kind of neighbors that watch your oldest at the drop of a hat when your youngest has broken her arm on her bike….
The kind that call you at 11pm to warn you that two shadowy figures just left your house with a big bag full of stuff (and those shadowy figures just happen to be your pregnant sister and her husband leaving with a bag full of baby clothes).
They buy glitter rocks at your kids’ neighborhood stand. They’re the kind of neighbors that are there in a pinch, if you need help with your kid or need a drink or just need to vent or laugh for a minute.
At the beginning of summer, I had asked for the boys’ baseball schedule, thinking we’d come cheer them on and snap a few pictures for them. Crystal was always trying to get good baseball pictures of them. But, as summer has a way of doing, it slipped right through our hands, and baseball season was suddenly over.
The day before we left for our vacation to Michigan, I asked Crystal if she wanted to do a water balloon baseball session in the backyard instead. We decided we’d set it up when I got back.
And then came the news. For their most recent and probably most terrifying struggle, we were on vacation. I got a text sent out to all the neighbors that their oldest had a brain tumor and would be receiving surgery the next week.
I hate that we weren’t there for that. No drinks on the back patio, just tearful phone conversations from one state to another.
But this family is strong as can be. They pulled through just fine with the help of others and leaning in to each other. Rock solid, they are.
The surgery, though very serious, went alright. Turned out it was a super rare tumor, but not cancer, thank goodness. It’s been a really long, hard road for all of them, but he is recovering alright and slowly getting back to his regularly scheduled life.
As soon as he was allowed some activity, we got the water balloon baseball session together.
It was SO MUCH FUN. So fun!
Laughter everywhere, water everywhere.
Crystal and I often lament together about the struggles of raising kids. How it feels sometimes like all you do is get on their case, how it feels like they never listen, how sometimes it’s like you can’t do anything right. The day-to-day can be rough sometimes.
Not so this day. This day was all smiles and laughing and just being happy all together. Heck yes, water balloon baseball.
It felt like a celebration of them making it through this hard, scary time.
And I’m so, so glad we were able to do it.
Crystal wrote me after it (shared with permission): “I realized today that we could’ve never had that day…”
“That day of fun, happiness and smiles. It could’ve been so bad. Our boy could’ve died, been in a coma for life, never able to see again or write…so much could’ve gone bad but it didn’t. AND here we are today….”
“It was an exciting day. Filled with fun and happiness. I need to stop having tears but also great to… finally, have some tears. Truly the photos of what might not have been….hard to hold in.”
It was such a celebration of a day! Celebrating their strength, their good news, their deep bond as a family. Plus all their joy and silliness. You guys! I love you! Thanks for being just freaking awesome neighbors. I know nothing can make up for that CLE loss last night, but hope this post makes you smile!