Deciding to go next door to check on the neighbor, I put on my coat and hat, leaving the house of sadness, thinking the morning would be looking up since the Walshes and I would soon be on our way to church.
I knocked gently on the door...waiting in the frosty morning air for a response. When none came, I tried again, knocking more loudly. Waiting another five minutes, I took hold of the door knob and tried turning it. Perhaps he needed help, I thought.
The doorknob did not turn. Going around to a window, I looked in and saw the profile of him sitting on the couch, with an empty bottle on the end table beside him. He looked to be asleep. I decided to leave him in peace; he perhaps was "sleeping it off", so I turned and left, heading back to the Walshes' home.
When I got back, they were all ready to leave for church. So, off we went, with Katy holding my hand. She seemed to have taken a shine to me. She was skipping along to my long steps, so I slowed a bit. I then realized she enjoyed the skipping, so I lengthened my stride again. Katy chattered as she skipped.
"Look at that bird up in the tree, Mr. Zeb! What kind is it?"
"I believe it is a Mockingbird, Katy. Listen to it! It imitates all the other birds it hears." We stopped for a minute to listen to its musical trills.
"Where do all the birds come from, Mr. Zeb? How did we get so many kinds?"
"God made all of the different kinds, Katy. He made everything that was made."
"Even people? Even the mountains? Even the sky?"
"Everything! Isn't it wonderful?" I replied.
"Why do people want to kill themselves, then, Mr. Zeb? Why did Miss Emmaline want to die?"
This seemed to be the question Katy had been anxious to ask in the first place.
"Oh, my, Katy. That is a tough one. Why don't you ask the pastor that one? I think maybe it could be because they give up on the joys of living. They give up on hope. We all have to have hope."
"Well, I hoped I would get a bicycle for Christmas, but I didn't. I am still hoping I can get one this next Christmas. I'm not giving up."
"Good for you, Katy, but even if you don't get one, it isn't worth giving up, is it?"
"Nope, it ain't, Mr. Zeb! Cause there's always next year!"
I loved Katy's enthusiasm and childlike faith. Oh, that we could all feel that way, I thought. If only Miss Emmaline could have. I vowed to check on the neighbor again right after church.
We all quietly entered the church and sat down in a midsection pew.
(To be continued)