How I Met My Neighbor

I firmly believe that people come into our lives when we need them most.

A couple of years ago, our air conditioning unit was acting up. One of our neighbors, Jennifer*, had recently told us that they just had their unit replaced. I called her up to get the name of the company who replaced it. They were out of town and told me to call our other neighbor, Cathy, because it was her son’s company. I called her up and she said she would call her son, Jamie.

Apparently, we later found out, she called Jamie and insisted that he come over during the weekend and help us fix our AC. It was July after all and we of course were having record temperatures.

A few months after that, I was talking to Jennifer one evening and she told that Cathy was sick again. Her cancer had returned. I had no idea Cathy had been sick. I did notice that Jamie’s work truck was in Cathy’s driveway a lot.

I told Curtis about it and told him I’m going to bake cookies and bring her some. Often, when I have leftovers from cooking for this blog, I have Curtis bring it to work or bring it over to friends so they can enjoy it. So that’s how I started bringing food to Cathy. It’s a joy to see her smile. Earlier this year, while I was sick, I didn’t get to go see her as much. When I started again this summer, I was scared to ring her doorbell.

Jennifer had told me that the doctors had given Cathy three months to live. She had lung cancer and it had gotten worse. It was utterly heartbreaking news. Each time I visited Cathy and brought her cookies, cupcakes, soup, it was nice to see her smile but I worried about her.

The last couple of visits have been a huge difference, she’s up and about, she has a lot more energy and she has a huge smile on her face. She said she is on a drug trial, an immunotherapy that was saving her life. She had energy again and she told me recently, I can’t believe they told me I had one month left to live and now I’m still here.

I teared up when I heard all of this.

I visited her a couple of weeks ago and brought her some soup and pasta I had made from my friend’s cookbook (check out that recipe for slow cooker lasagna soup). She was so happy to see me and declared that the food I had brought was going to be her dinner.

Somehow, we got onto the topic of my family being Vietnamese. She said that in the 60s, she was afraid her husband was going to be drafted into the Vietnam War. That it was a scary time and it was an ugly ugly war.

And here today, she had this Vietnamese neighbor who was bringing her food all these years later. Who would have thought?

I told her that even though that war was so ugly and brings back so many bad memories and the US had lost so many of its sons back then…if it hadn’t been for that war, I wouldn’t be an American today. I firmly believe, that if my family hadn’t escaped during the War, that I wouldn’t have been born here…and be the proud American I am today.

I told her my parents were refugees in Arkansas and how they were sponsored by a nice family from Texas.

It’s a sobering thought, to know that borne out of so much pain and so much death, that my life here would not have been possible. And I try to be grateful every day. Every day.

*Names have been changed. There is an affiliate link in this post.