Autumn in the Luxembourg Gardens

Not exactly sure when, or where we’re going to stay — we haven’t yet heard back from the owner of the apartment we hope to rent — but we’re definitely going to do it. Everybody tells us we should, but you know what made the decision for me? Richard Humphreys and Andrew Sullivan.

Richard, bless his soul, was a gentle, intelligent arborist who lived around the corner from us. We met him at a party a couple of months ago. He was so animated and full of life. Yesterday, someone told me that on Thursday morning, Richard’s wife woke up and found him lying dead next to her. He had had a heart attack in his sleep, apparently. He was relatively young — 62 — and in good health. I’m sitting on my back porch this Sunday afternoon, working on my book, and listening to the birds chatter in the trees. Richard and Ellen live close enough that last Sunday, they could have been sitting on their porch with the same birdsongs echoing in their ears as in ours.

And now Richard is gone. Just like that. God have mercy on him and those who loved him.

I was thinking about Richard just now when I checked out a blog post on Sullivan’s site talking about bucket lists.  At the top of my bucket list, I realized in the moment, would be, “To be in Paris with my wife and kids.” And in the next half-second, I realized, “We could do that, this fall, if we wanted to.” We may not be able to do it next year. But we could do it this year.

If we want.

If.

I will book the apartment and the flight this week. And I make a vow right now to find the most beautiful tree in the Luxembourg Gardens, stand under it, and say requiem prayers for my neighbor Richard, whose sudden leaving told me to seize the day.