I can’t stop thinking about a boy named Billy. He is 14 years old and lives in my neighborhood. Now mind you, I live in a neighborhood reminiscent of the old Ozzie and Harriet television series (I know Ozzie was a jerk but the show still serves as a good metaphor for my neighborhood.) Residents of Dommerich Estates typically resist the urge to tear down their 1950s houses in favor of building McMansions. The highly rated elementary and middle schools are the heart of our little community. An enormous 100 year old camphor tree across the street from my house extends its lengthy limbs in a welcome to passersby. Each year, our neighbor spends the bulk of two weekends on a cherry picker draping miles of colorful Christmas lights on the branches of this tremendous tree, under which our neighborhood gathers for our annual Christmas party. We check in with each other; smile as the next generation of kids plays catch in the street; we potluck; we stay too late playing flip cup and other random drinking games. The sense of community is palpable.
We don’t necessarily agree politically. Every 2 to 4 years, yards sport competing candidates during presidential and gubernatorial elections. As much as politics matters to me, it doesn’t so much within the borders of our neighborhood.
That brings me back to my neighbor Billy. Billy has been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of Leukemia. This is a child who was adopted as an infant and has had his share of difficulties. He is a wonderful kid. My daughter, so impressed by his spirit, named her beloved cat after Billy. Billy’s chemo therapy treatments have begun. Doctors talk about protocols as he is poked, probed, and ported. I have a daily lump in my throat as I read Regina (Billy’s Mom) blog posts detailing Billy’s progress. If there is a positive aspect to this tragedy, it’s the response from friends and family. The prayers, the meals, dog walking, and grocery shopping. It makes me feel we belong to a community. We have just endured a vicious and vitriolic political season where the hatred and contempt between Democrats and Republicans was palpable. Maybe America could learn a lesson from Choctaw Trail where being a good neighbor trumps political attitudes any day.