I live in HUD housing, an elderly/disabled apartment building here in town. I made friends with an elderly man a few years ago when I moved in. His name was Ray.

That last sentence was really difficult to type... you see, Ray passed away a couple of days ago, alone in his apartment. No one had seen him in a few days, so the manager called for a wellness check... Ray was not well. He was laid out, on the bed, in his best suit.

Ray was a lover of classical music -- in fact he was trained on the piano in classical music. His favorite composer was Beethoven, but he could never turn down a good, melancholy Chopin piece. He used to open his windows in the Spring and Summer and play his piano for all of us down in the courtyard.

His personal beliefs were a mishmash, like my own, and we would often sit for hours on the benches outside, talking philosophy vs religion and why we believed what we did when we had been raised so differently. He was a jack of all trades when it came to his mind--there wasn't a single subject I could bring up that he hadn't read something on, and would gladly talk at great length about.

I will miss him dearly. He lived only a few doors down from me. His phone number was in my phone. I feel like I should have done more for him than just be a talking companion, but that's what he seemed to need the most. He would always say that he didn't dare talk "like this" with anyone else in our building -- they wouldn't "get it", he would say with a wicked grin and a launch into another story.

It's so hard to walk down the hall. I see his door RIGHT THERE. But it's not Ray's door anymore. There's a hole in my heart.