First, in case Dane has the opportunity to read this, I want to assure him that - in the interest of privacy on the big, wide and wild world of web - I am refraining from using last names.
Now that's taken care of, on to the tribute...
I bet they're up early, not the sleep-in-er types, visiting with family they've been missing and longing to see for a while now. Memphis is but a memory, close enough to feel the humidity, but far enough to know there's no going back. At least, that's how it seems it might be.
Michelle and Dane were the best of neighbors. And friends. But the best of neighbors are friends, and so my definition of neighbor has been redefined. After all, "And who is my neighbor?" was the question asked to Jesus, as a way of getting around true love and mercy, and we know that He expanded for us in that one parable what it means to be a neighbor (but that's surely for another post).
One of my earliest and dearest memories with Michelle is that she was comfortable being together and now always "doing" together. On Sunday afternoon laundry day, she'd bring over their loads of laundry, along with some knitting, a book, and a need for napping, and so the next 3 hours of "being" ensued. What a joy to have the kind of friend who can be in the same room with you, resting, reading, or talking when necessary. The memory is vivid, and the lesson has left its mark - being together is just as important - if not more important - than "doing" together.
Another favorite memory is of garden conversation, all of us on different tasks with our shovels and spades and plants, talking away, hearing each other, learning from each other, and on the occasion, disagreeing with each other. But we were doing all this together, and before you knew it, 2 hours had passed and the garden was well on its way to somewhere other than a plot of weeds!
Dane was never short on conversation, and few times in life do you meet someone who can engage just about any topic with well thought out opinions and gleanings from readings and teachings on the subject. Dane is not only really intelligent, but he's really thoughtful, and can even muster up the courage to admit he's not thought something through instead of spouting off things that are untrue, just for the sake of ego. He liked to be right, too - don't we all - but mostly, he was just really great to dialogue with, in a really meaningful way, a way that did not leave me unchanged, but spurred on "toward love and good deeds" (Heb. 10:24).
How long could this tribute be? We could talk about Pancake Sundays, and Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market, and Michelle teaching me how to can tomatoes. There's also the night we sat around and sang with her siblings in our living room, and the Sunday evening prayers, and Farkle. The quirkiness of Dane's love for spare change (under washers and dryers at the laundromat or next door in the car wash), knowing I could call Michelle for an onion or an egg, and the joy we all received from reading "A Severe Mercy".
It was a good two years - a really whole and full two years. How many times does someone move in and out of your life, only to leave you wishing that you'd done this or said that or spent more time together? I'm delighted to know that none of that is true with these neighbors, friends, brother and sister, bound together as we were for two years (and still are, forever).
Michelle & Dane, this is your tribute to the neighbors, friends, truth-tellers, lovers, and Family that you are.
Go with God...