Because I live on a rock that I share with about 300 others, you get to know its people. Many I’ve known for over 20 years, others more recent. For me this is the longest duration in one community in my entire life – in California we moved several times: Garden Grove, Tustin, Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, and this continued when we relocated to Vancouver Island.
Landing here on this tiny Gulf Island I remember saying to my new husband (that would be Bob) that I have no intention of leaving. Of course this was after experiencing the grunting work of loading cars and boats with my things and barging across the waters to off load, then reload onto a truck to the final destination of Bobs house. Then off load. I ain’t doing that again, I think is what I mumbled under my breath. Little did it sink in then that this in fact would be a constant way of life. Hauling things. But I’m good with it now.
So this is home and I am surrounded by people who know me. They know my children. Our story.
And I know some of theirs, when someone gets married, when there is a new baby, when someone falls on hard luck, the fundraiser events. But because I’ve been working so much out of the home for many years these events have been more on the periphery of my scope. Acknowledgement, appreciation, yes – but also a little taken for granted.
Until now. Living in this community the more I am awakened to the profundity of it, the depths it reaches into what it means to know your neighbour, to be a part of this tiny part of humanity.
She was a gardener, taking care of others’ plants and flowers, she and her partner working together on landscaping jobs for about 15 years here and she passed away. She was in her 50’s and died of Lung Cancer a few days ago. And when I mentioned this one evening to a friend how many neighbours have passed my friend said, It’s our age. She said, there were three people in my condo on my floor that had died within a few years of each other.
I thought about what she said, but it wasn’t the same.
It was then that I realized what it is I am a part of here. At that moment I came to fully understand the connectedness that resides here, what it means to be a supportive community, to BE IN a community. I realized how far on the sidelines I have dwelled.
It was an epiphany.
Because when I see Anne I can remember her husband, and see Liz and remember her husband, and see Pat and remember her husband, and see Veronica and remember her husband, and see Keith and remember his wife, and see Shannon and remember her daughter, and when I see Dan I can remember his partner. And because I can see my neighbours navigating catastrophic life changes and doing the wrenching work of carrying on, of salving wounds. Of finding a new normal everyday.
I have newfound respect and even a reverence that wasn’t so present before as a resident here. Of what Home means, and Connection.