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"Hey Neighbor!"

"Hey neighbor!" What I would do to be able to say that to you again. I can't even believe this is real. I was never prepared to say goodbye to you, but I am even less prepared to say it now. You have been like a grandma to me since I was 5 years old. I remember the day you moved in. We still had our ugly 6 foot wooden fence up in between our yards. I was so excited that you guys moved in, so every time I knew you were outside I would get on my swing and swing high enough to see you over the fence and yell out, "Hey Neighbor!" You always got so excited and would talk to me for as long as I wanted. Our relationship just bloomed from there. Countless days you picked me up from school when I was sick and made me soup and let me sleep at your house until my parents came home from work. Countless nights I have spent at your house when my parents were out of town. You always let me pick what I wanted to eat, and if I asked nice enough I could even get you to take me to Golden Corral or Denny's. You are the first person who introduced me to Costco and all of the amazing samples they give away. We would go down every aisle and get so full we didn't even need to go to lunch. You always would remind Mr. Rufus to make me cookies and creme ice cream when he would bust out the ice cream maker. Despite being an annoyingly picky eater, you would always accommodate me with no hesitation. You loved to call me "kid" and I hated it when I found out that a kid is a baby goat. You just chuckled at me and asked if I was being a bit dramatic but applauded me for knowing what I did and didn't want despite being like 6 years old. You showed me that it is really rewarding to finish multi hundred piece puzzles and if you do cute ones of kittens you can frame the finished product. You always kept diet pepsi in the fridge in the garage and I never understood why you liked that stuff cuz it has a weird after taste. You just laughed at me, gave me juice and happily finished your soda. From going to VBS at your church, or just random events that you cooked for I always loved getting to hang out with you. You made watching Jeopardy really fun and are the first one that tapped into my love for kitties without me even realizing. You've saved me many times when I misplaced my house key and would let me borrow yours until I found mine. I loved when you called the house on a weekday afternoon because I knew that meant you cooked too much and you were giving us the overflow. No one makes pasta salad like you do. I'd do anything to come over for another gourmet club night. Your friends are so cool. Thanksgiving dinner at your house was always the best because everything you touched was gourmet status. Your former life as a caterer never went away. You didn't miss a single family milestone in our lives. From all of my graduations, to daddy's retirement, piano recitals, school plays, I always could count on you being there. Any function we had everyone knew Mrs. Maggie was bringing some really good food, and was going to be ready to play games after we eat. You and I are still the reigning Poker Keeno Champions. Who knew that playing on Easter was going to be one of our last times beating everyone. It doesn't even make sense to me that today I have to say goodbye to you. I sat in your living room last night and cried realizing that you're not coming home anymore. I won't be meeting you at the back door to carry food over on Easter. I won't be coming over during one of your cookouts to steal a plate and snag dessert before running back home. You won't need me to type up the budget or the minutes for your ministry at church anymore. Thank you for every single memory you've given me over the past 20 years. Thank you for being the best stand in grandma I could ever want. From emergency contact, cheerleader, babysitter, chef, and everything in between, you were superwoman in my eyes. I feel like you were taken away too quickly and way too soon, and I am totally not ready, but I know you're not in pain anymore and you're probably so happy hanging out with Jesus right now. I'm sure you're shaking your head at me for being so upset and crying because you're right where you've always wanted to be. I love you and I can't wait to see you again one day. And don't worry you'll know its me because I will make sure to yell nice and loud, "Hey Neighbor!"

Jahara Stevenson