Today my neighbor died. November 3, 2003 - I had just moved into my new home; my family and I had come from about 70 miles north - north west, to be closer to my job at Fort Lewis, WA. That day I was out tooling around the house and say my across-the-street neighbor drive up. I walked over and extended my hand to a hispanic young man. 'I'm darin, your new neighbor!' Jesus and I chatted about work; he is a member of 2nd Inf Division, and leaving for Iraq in a couple weeks. Shortly after Jesus deployed with his unit, my wife and I noticed an older woman around his place - Thru talking with Jesus' wife Patsy, this was her mother; staying to help with Jesus and Patsy's three children - ages 4, 5, and 7. From time to time, I'd see Grandma and the kids playing outside, or walking thru the neighborhood, while Patsy attended nursing school. Today when I got home from work, I sat down to eat, as usual. Just as I was finishing my meal, I heard the doorbell ring several times - then frantic knocking. "Who can THAT be?" Mary asked as I walked to the door - "I dunno - but they better step off my door bell!" I quipped sarcastically. I opened the door to see Patsy in a panic - on the phone. "Can you help me, please - I think my mother is dead!!" I ran with her across the street and up the stairs. "My kids said she was sleeping - and they couldn't wake her" I got to the top of the stairs to see grandma face down on the floor, as if she was sleeping. The kids were in a bed above her, watching TV. As Mary followed us over, I told the kids to go with Mary - so they can play with my kids at our house. When I reached to check for a Pulse, Grandma's neck was cold to the touch. Patsy and I tried to turn her to attempt CPR. As we turned Grandma I knew it'd be no use. Grandma's joints were locked in place. I tried to tilt Grandma's head, in an attempt to open an air-way. Her teeth were clinched closed - it'd be no use. I thought to myself 'Rigamortis - she's been gone for some time...' Patsy handed me the phone and 911 - When I explained the condition, the operator suggested we just wait for the EMTs to arrive. I put down the phone and asked Patsy if I could pray with her. We held hands, and i put my hand on Grandma's head. And we prayed for God's Spirit to provide peace to Patsy and her family - above all things, may God's will be done. Shortly later, the EMTs arrived and confirmed my 'diagnosis'. Patsy has no family here - she's got a few friends. I sort of feel like Mary and I need to 'adopt' her and her family - at least until we can get her husband home to help her cope. I only wish there was MORE I could do. I feel. Helpless. Her kids are here now, playing with my daughter and son. I counseled Patsy to be honest with them; compassionate but honest. Planting hopes that 'since Grandma is merely 'gone' she MAY come back!" or "If grandma is gone, where did she go??" The Fire Dept Chaplain was there - and concurred with my abvice to Patsy. A few minutes ago she told them - as she left to go back across the street, the kids slowly returned to their playing. The oldest was walking up stairs and I hear him crying. I walked behind him to ask what was up. "Hey son, are you okay?" (Thru sniveling) 'I miss my grandma already...I don't want her to be died. [sic]." "Son - it's not your fault; or anyone's fault - know that. And secondly, your mother needs you to be brave right now. Your Daddy will come home as soon as he can, but until then, your mommy may need you to be strong for her; to be strong for your brother and sister." 'I'll be brave' he said, wiping tears and snot on my shirt as he hugged me. 'I'll be brave for Daddy and Mommy and my brother and sister'. Grandma was 63 - only a couple years older than my own father. Today I'm hit smack in the face with how important those around us really are. I'm struck with a sort of calm panic? maybe? I feel the need to call everyone I know, to tell them I love them. That's all. (sigh). Pray for Patsy and Jesus. Pray for their kids. I know I'll be hugging MY family just a LITTLE bit more over the next couple of days.