I walked into the building from the garage this afternoon around 5:30, in my normal swirl of post-work, almost home activity. Check package list at front desk, dig through bag for keys, open mail box, retrieve junk mail and bills, find building id card in wallet, glance at bulletin board in passing…whoa
I was stopped in my tracks by a sign in the glass fronted bulletin board, which read:
Bunny of apartment 2016 passed away on Wednesday, April 20th
I registered the apartment number first, thinking, “Hey, that’s my floor, do I know that person?” Instantly, I realized, I did. Bunny lived across the hall and down a few apartments from me. I always remembered her name, because my California grandma was also a Bunny. She was a thin woman, probably in her late 60’s, with shoulder length dyed brown hair that she always wore in a flip (I always imagined that it was her preferred style in high school, on which someone had once complimented her, so for her entire life she remained convinced that it was her most flattering do). Whenever I saw her in the trashroom or on elevator, she would smile broadly and greet me enthusiastically. She remembered my grandmother and never failed to mention how wonderful she thought she had been, and how beautiful.
I worried about Bunny, for the last couple of years she seemed thinner every time I saw her and the dark circles under eyes stretched down to her cheeks. But it never occurred to me that she sick. I had fleeting thoughts that considered whether she was an alcoholic, but always dismissed them. I worried about Bunny, but I didn’t check on her, didn’t leave a note, didn’t offer to run an errand or two for her, didn’t do any of the things that a concerned neighbor should have done. I live in a weird world that way, humanity is stacked one on top of another in my building, but once we are tucked away, each in our own cell of an apartment, thoughts of the people around us shimmer and fade like a mirage.
I stood in front of that sign in the mail room for over a minute, feeling waves of shock, surprise and sadness slap against me. I kept looking around for someone I knew, needing to share the assimilation of this loss with another. But no one passed.
So now I say good bye to Bunny, my neighbor. I hope that wherever you’ve gone, you realize that your presence on Earth was felt and that your absence now leaves a hole. Be well.