On Friday, the neighbor’s mail was delivered to our office. It isn’t the first misdirected delivery. We all get someone else’s letter from time to time. However, this was the first time I’d gotten this particular neighbor’s mail. After 18 years that seemed oddly significant, but I often find connections in the innocuous.
I don’t know if I am alone in imaging. Is it a love letter or invitation, summons or perhaps a bill that will sit among the others unpaid? So many times I’ve concocted stories while scrolling “not at this address” across the envelope face. I felt that tinge of wonder, that familiar pull.
Much like I do when people appear perched at my office door, slightly confused, disoriented. They are looking for the counselor’s office two buildings down. Usually with a child in tow as many of the counselors are child psychologists. I recognize the look instantaneously, a deer in the headlights, self-conscious and exposed. With a smile I redirect them down the road.
For a moment in the wake of their departure, I’m left pondering my future. With each incidence my desire to be a life, conscious communication coach ignited; dreaming of a different path and direction for my own future. These encounters remain jarring, but as of yet, never enough to shake me loose to action.
My eyes once again lit upon that misdirected piece of mail. I didn’t have the space to spin a tale. Pulled between tasks that demanded my undivided attention, there would be no fantasizing.
I watched my boss suddenly cross the office. On a mission or whim I couldn’t surmise, but singularly focused on that piece of mail. He plucked it from its resting place. Staring at the name, the wheels clearly turned in his head. Then with sudden recognition the story fell from his lips.
Our neighbor had killed himself two days prior. He was 86 and had Parkinson’s. But more than that, his wife had just died at 87, two weeks prior. He no longer wanted to remain here alone. So he left.
When the mailman carried the envelope way, I realized the truth is always more complicated than any fantasy. And this message or bill would never reach its intended receiver. I sat oddly shaken, uneasy, a deeper meaning stirring in my bones. Wondering about his bravery and fear, had he made his decision consciously or from emotion. Would I ever be moved to action?