My parents live on a small street in a town outside of Orlando. It has about a dozen homes on one side and two on the other. There's a small lake across from their house and several of the other homes. Many years ago, a neighbor, Bill, came down with a very rare form of leukemia. I know a lot more about that disease today than I did back then. It's hit closer to home than I ever would have wanted it to. That is a different story. This one is about Bill.
It was Bill's lake. Bill was always successful in life, from what I could see and what I heard from my parents and the other neighbors. He was well liked. He and his wife had many friends together. His doctors could do nothing for him here, so he went out to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Unfortunately, he was a little too old and the leukemia had taken too strong of a hold for the doctors out there to do much. Oh, they tried different procedures but nothing worked. Eventually, he was sent home to live out his remaining days in as much comfort as his doctors could provide. My parents kept me informed, in spite of the fact that I really didn't know him all too well. Every time I'd visit, I'd make it a point to ask about Bill if they didn't tell me.
One afternoon, I went to see my folks. Driving by Bill and his wife's home, I saw him standing in the driveway. I waved, but he didn't respond. He didn't even look at me. He seemed to be staring out into an empty void and I noticed his face was pale, almost gray. I thought, well, he's not in the best of health right now, anyway. Intently, I watched him as I drove by, thinking that this would more than likely be the last time I'd see him. Something seemed different, but I had no idea what it was. It's as if he was somewhere else. I distinctly remember him wearing a plaid or flannel shirt of some kind. I thought to myself that he must be nearing the end of his journey and, perhaps he was too weak and unresponsive to acknowledge me. I knew he had been declining, but I had no idea what kind of shape he was in.
I pulled into my parents' driveway and went in. The first thing I said after our greetings was that I had just seen Bill standing outside his home. I waved and he didn't even notice me. Poor Bill.
"That's impossible," my mother said.
"Why? Is he too sick to get out of bed? I mean, there he was."
"No, David, Bill passed away two days ago in the hospital."
I went out and looked. He was gone.