The Other Side of Lost in Translation


Goodbye My Neighbor

I have been depressed since I heard this news.
The woman, who had been living in the next door apartment,
passed away about a week ago.
I heard this news a few days ago
from her daughter who used to live there.

This 72 years old woman had been my neighbor
for the last quarter century.
Despite of the very short distance between us,
I never had a close relationship with her,
just the person I said "Hi, how are you?" to
whenever I saw her in a hall way.
Maybe I should have a better one with her,
but it did not happen,
as she was a nice woman but very different type from me,
and a bit too old to be my friend.

After her daughter moved out like 18 years ago,
she became a couch potato to put on lots of weight.
And because of that, she had a trouble with her knees,
and other health issues followed.
However, she had remained always feisty.

A few days ago, when I came back from outside,
her daughter came out of her apartment
and told me her passing.
At first, it was like just "Oh My God!"
But after I came into my apartment,
the real feeling set in.
She was like a permanent fixture to me,
someone always my next door neighbor.
But she is gone now.

And not only her passing
but also the way her daughter looked shocked me.

Since she moved out,
I have seen her time to time when she visited her mother,
but always like just saying "Hi"
whenever I saw her in the dark hall way.
However, for the first time, since she had moved out,
I talked to her face to face this time.
While the news of her mother's passing shocked me,
I also realized she looked quite different.
It was still a same face,
but I saw some grey hair, wrinkles
and even her chin was sagging.
I felt like "What happened to you?"
What happened to her was TIME.
Considering that she is supposed to be in her mid 40s,
it is only natural that she looked that way.

To my surprise, I have been grieving since then.
To be honest, not exactly for her passing, but for me,
for this overwhelming sense of
"Where the hell did the Time go?"
What the hell have I been doing all these years?

Sunday, I heard the noises from the next door all day.
I thought her family members taking her furniture out,
which I did not want to see.
However, still hearing them even in the early evening,
it seemed that they were having a party in a memory of her.
So I went out to get some flower and knocked her door.
A very handsome young guy showed up at the door,
whose relation to her I had no knowledge of.
I told him I was a next door neighbor
and how I felt about her passing with the flower.

Not wanting to go back into my apartment after that,
I went to the East River park
and walked toward uptown by the water.
It was a warm and quiet spring night.
I found the one blooming cherry blossom tree,
and under that, a 40ish guy playing guitar
& singing fado-like songs in french.
I sat at the nearby bench and watched over the river,
which was so peaceful.

I remembered that when I was younger,
I used to roam around in the night
whenever I could not cope with the loneliness.
Sometimes I walked around all night long
hoping I could talk to someone,
but always I got home alone.

At that time, I had more friends than now
and I had the youth.

When I got home from roaming around,
it was like 10:45
and her family members seemed to be gone.
Getting in my apartment, I really pitied myself.
Her family had lots of people
to share and overcome their feelings with,
but I am all alone to wander around in the night.

I thought I got used to being alone,
living my life by myself.
But still the night like this, it is not easy.

One month ago, the refrigerator
that I had used for 25 years broke down,
three weeks ago,
the 21 years old cat of mine was hospitalized.
And since then, he has not shown any improvement.
He may last for one more month, two or half year maybe.
And now my next door woman is gone so suddenly.
I wonder whether all these are coincident or not.

I thought I got used to being alone,
living my life by myself.
But still the night like this, it is not easy at all.
And I hate myself for being the person like me.
Why wasn't I born as a person like her family members,
or anyone else who has a family and friends?

I am alone, all alone in this night.

Goodbye my neighbor,
and sorry for being a not very good neighbor to you,
guessing you wished you could have a friendlier one.
I know it will take a time for me to accept your passing,
but I know you are resting in peace now.


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