New Yorkers are notorious for going years without meeting their neighbors. We are no exception, but two things happened recently that changed this a bit. 1) we got a puppy and 2) we had twins. And, boy, do people like to coo over both, which is awesome, because as you well know, puppies and babies are a lot of work so it’s nice to get a little extra attention when you have one (or three)… even if you have to point your mouth away from the attention giver because you haven’t brushed your teeth yet that morning. Yep… guilty.
Anyway, during this auspiciously social time in our lives, we met our neighbor, Sid Miller, a widower in his late 80s who lived across the hall from us. We always chatted and exchanged niceties in the hallway when we met. He loved talking to the babies.
When we started to sleep train the twins, some pro mamas suggested warning the neighbors in case the crying was excessive or loud. It was both. Gosh, I don’t miss those days. We wrote our 3 closest neighbors a little note from C+E explaining what was about to go down and enclosed a Starbucks gift card and some ear plugs in a small gift bag, which I left hanging on each of their doors.
I can’t remember exactly what it said, but my note went something like this…
Dear Mr. Miller,
We are writing to let you know that we are starting our sleep training next week. Our doctor advised that at 9 months of age we are quite capable of sleeping through the night… Enclosed are earplugs in case it gets loud and a Starbucks Gift card in case we interrupt your sleep and you need a little pick-me-up.
Callen & Elin
A few days later, we received an envelope under our door with a note inside. Here’s what it said:
Dear Callen & Elin,
I started my sleep training 4 days ago. The Dr. prescribed a Rx and melatonin. I will not take the Rx but I will try the Melatonin. Don’t tell your mother and father, but many weeks I go 2-3 nights without sleep.
My Dr. says that at 88 years of age I’m capable of sleeping all night.
I hope the transition goes smooth for your mother, father & dog. Please don’t worry about me because I never hear from the both of you because I have a hearing problem – a real problem.
I’m enclosing a dream catcher because it catches good dreaming. I’m returning the Starbucks Gift Card because having your mother, father, Callen and Elin is gift enough.
P.S. Forget my writing.
Sid left this world a few months later. I was touched by his note and sad that we hadn’t gotten to know him better. I thought he might have enjoyed spending time with C+E.
I think of him every now and then. That’s how people stay with us, you know…. existing in the hearts and minds of the living is its own immortality.
I tucked Sid’s note away in one of the baby books. I recently got around to updating them and out fell his card and the gift card. I wasn’t sure what to do with the gift card, but it was inside a Chinese New Year envelope and the holiday is coming up. Somehow the timing seemed right to put it to use.
I have my doubts that Sid enjoyed a soy chai latte with a shot of espresso. He seemed far too practical for such indulgences, but I love them. And I guess I’m part of this story, too. I thought of him this morning as I enjoyed my coffee. I thought about how friendly he was and how he seemed to know lots of people in our building. I wondered about his life and his family. For a few minutes, Sid was immortal.