True story by ecodecoarora

At a Sunday dinner last March, surrounded by my dear mother and widowed friends in their eighties, I recounted a life moment that had transpired two days earlier.

Since 2013, my outside view onto the world has led me straight into another person’s apartment across a two-way street. I could see her silhouette throughout the changing light of day; she was old, hunched, white-skinned, and white-haired, and moved slowly but independently. She also lived alone, stylishly, on the top floor of a ritzy residence for seniors.

All this time, I took note of the seven lamps that dotted her living room, lit up every evening, like clockwork. Placed along the walls and large central window onto which I bore witness into her world, each lamp shade was unique in shape and design, and each light bulb emitted a different degree of luminosity. As a curious aesthete, I found this symphonic palette forever alluring. Her plush home, possibly British in spirit, but recognizably bourgeois, and the special lighting scheme, brought me comfort and coloured my imagination as I mindfully ate alone. I’d often thought about how it would be to get old, like her. Mobility and flexibility unfailing, she would sit on her long floral sofa, move between a room to the left of my view and another one straight beyond, and occasionally, I would even catch her undressing. Now and again, she would receive visitors: familiar types and attendants, who would help me to perceive the footprint she occupied.

By early last December, as a harsh Montreal winter was inevitably drawing near, I began to notice more visitors standing-by: my unwitting neighbour was not as sprightly as before. A scene of quiet confusion unfolded from my personal point of view, a vigil of sorts that would last a few months. Then, on a Friday afternoon in late March, whilst seated at my desk contemplating work and life, I glanced casually to my left right outside my window and discovered her apartment, shockingly emptied. In disbelief, I intuited she had died. When?! How quickly her presence had been erased: her apartment was now just skin and bones, a clinical white. Devoid of any decor, where had all her attractive furniture gone?

Saddened, I wanted to attend her funeral or memorial and meet her family — to say thanks to them for she had faithfully kept me virtual company from my own perch a few floors up. I contacted the residence to enquire and within minutes I had received confirmation: “She has indeed passed away and her service has already taken place. Thank you.” For more than fifty months she had sustained my fascination. Lights now out, I never did figure out the configuration of her soulful home.

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