A neighbor gone too soon

5 years ago

Those dear moments of the mind. We call them memories. They haunt our daily rituals and unexpected corners. In the end they give strength and solace with a brief tug to times gone by. 

A neighbor’s life was finished the other night. A simple stone of lead removed 51 years of participation. 

Hours and hours will pass as unknown men and women attempt to explain what is not explainable. A thousand tears will fall and still they cannot wash away the pain for a family. That man, whatever his faults, was a husband, son, brother and father to someone who now has an empty void. His champions are appointed by King Circumstance. Justice sought and maybe granted with a diligence richly deserved. He was one of us. 

It is a scene played out every day in the courtyards of nameless apartment buildings throughout China. A survivor carries a brown paper sack to an open space. It is laid with reverence to the center of a concrete slab. A match is struck and touched to the edge of the paper. Flames curl and lick their way through the paper, turning to smoke those thousands of memories. This is a simple story that the champion tells of the traveler needing a few of his things to continue a journey no one else can make. In a moment, all that is left are streams upon the face and drops of water on the ground. 

Lives go on and more questions will be asked. With shields and chariots the champions for this man will seek to challenge that piece of lead that removed our neighbor. Relentless in the pursuit, these humble soldiers, men and women, will challenge the known and unknown trying to answer the question of “Why.” 

All that can be done is to remember that this man was once a son, a brother, a father, a friend, and a neighbor. He laughed and loved the many and the few and now those same grieve at their loss. He was our neighbor. His champions will fight to give him an honor that a simple lead stone removed in a moment. Those who remain will remember the babe, the boy, the man he had become. 

Our neighbor is gone. All wail and rail at the unfairness of it all.

Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in The County who graduated from UMPI and earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina. He began his journalism career at WAGM television later working in many different areas of the US. After 20 years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea.