Yesterday, my neighbor dropped dead of a heart attack. He was not an old man or a sick man, but rather a middle aged, vibrant man that I had just seen the day before walking around the block, then stopping in front of my house to pick up his mail. At 7:00 PM last evening, he was fine. At 7:05, he was gone. That fast.

We all know death comes in an instant, but seeing it happen before your eyes, drives the point home in a new way. I’ll never forget the image of his lifeless body being wheeled out on the stretcher, while his wife sat in the front seat of the ambulance—waiting.

He and I have had but a few interactions over the years and most revolved around his distain for an eyesore of a bike park that my son built in the backyard. In fact my neighbor’s last words to me, delivered in my living room, were something to the effect of “I don’t think I’ll be able to speak to you or wave to you, if I have to look at ‘that thing’ for the next three years.” That was two years ago.

Why three years? Because my son was 16 at the time of the offensive construction project and I promised the neighbors that it would be removed once my son went away to college.

For obvious reasons I am so sad that my neighbor is gone, and I’m sad he didn’t live to see the removal of the structure that upset him so. But I also wonder, if he had known then, what I know now, would it all have mattered so much?

That question keeps ringing in my ear. You see just last week, I spent way too much time in an upset and angry mood about just about everything. Happens to me sometimes and I’ve come up with a mantra for the feeling…”I’m pissed off about nothing in particular and everything in general.” But unwittingly my neighbor has provided me with a wake up call, which I now share with you.

Death comes in an instant, make sure all the moments before are good ones.

After all, most of the things we spend our time fretting about, don’t really matter, do they?

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