It’s all quiet round here now. There are no ‘goings on’ next door. My neighbours have moved.

It was on our annual meet up last December that my next door neighbour dropped the clanger. “…and I’ve been meaning to tell ye’s, we’re moving.” I set my wine glass down and turned to look at my neighbour’s face. She was looking back at me, half smiling, half anticipating my reaction. But my next door neighbour’s next door neighbour reacted first. “What! What did you say? Are you leaving?” The shock on her face matched my insides. Change was afoot!

For most of us, change is an unavoidable fact—something I discovered when my second born was diagnosed with Autism several years back. I’m sure there were other moments but this was the time when I realised life is unpredictable, unforgiving and ‘up to me’ to make the most of it. That seismic shift created circumstances and opportunity that helped me survive when head-rattling transformations were thrust upon me. Not that the neighbour’s move is a head-rattling transformation for me but I won’t lie. There is comfort in settlement and when folk around you up sticks it can be pretty unsettling accompanied with that familiar pang of resistance to change.

When I moved a few years ago my then next door neighbours were upset at my departure. I laughed, telling them that it was no big deal…I was just down the road but whatever way you dress it up change is change. Last year one of those neighbours moved to another country. We ceilithed in each other’s houses up until her leaving which was another defining moment. No matter what is going on in your life nothing is for certain. Change is inevitable and life goes on.

And so it is again. Everything has gone quiet next door. It has amazed me how much I knew of their routine—I barely noticed the comings and goings when they were around—and how much I miss the sounds of their life…the oil burner, the lawnmower, the children coming to play with Missy, the starting of a engine at 5.30am in the morning…I didn’t even know I was aware of my neighbour heading off to work at that time but I was and now I miss all those comforting noisy things that make up neighbours!

Funny thing is, we hardly seen each other! But they were always there; close by, just next door, for the best part of seven years. Over the fence we shared sugar, tea bags, dish washing powder, swapped notes on holiday destinations, medical advice and moaned about mundane domestic details. We celebrated new cars, new babies, new ventures, new jobs, barbeques, birthdays, communions, confirmations and communions all over again because they came back on Missy’s communion day to celebrate with us. Their next door neighbours came too! A date is set for another rendezvous as time rolls on into another chapter and now their next door neighbours are my next door neighbours and its okay really…apart from the empty house between us.  Funny what you don’t miss until it’s gone but times they are a-changing and speaking of change I’m going to take a short break from writing this column because I have places to go, people to see and things to do during the summer months but I hope to meet you back here in September. In the meantime keep on the bright side. Thanks for reading.