Today, on a brisk, sunny day in the bowels of winter, I discovered that my neighbour, a frail and fiercely proud elderly lady, had died.

I learned of this sad event when, while on my way to the grocery store, I saw a shiny black hearse surrounded by small crowd of  well-wishers outside her door.

I didn’t know her name; we’d never been formally introduced.  But over the last few years, during the good weather, we’d enjoyed some friendly conversations about our mutual interest, Siamese cats.  I have three of them, you see, and in her younger days she’d bred them. Giving an affectionate pet to my ‘boys’ had always made her smile.

After I’d returned from my shopping (and the hearse and well-wishers had moved on), I stopped for a moment outside her door.  As I bowed my head and whispered a prayer for her safe passing, a chorus of circling seagulls broke into glorious song.

I can’t say whether that was a symbol or a sign or – really – whether it was anything at all.

But I can say that it did make me feel that somehow, all was well.

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