This is a painful post to write because I wish I had done more for a woman whom I knew quite well. Sharon lived across the road from me. She was the local Scout Leader when my daughter joined 10 years ago. We passed each other on the street and had a chat from time to time. Sharon spent most of her days asleep because she suffered from insomnia. This coupled with her numerous health ailments kept her indoors a lot. One year she helped us put up the Christmas tree and came to dinner a few times over the years.
I only ever saw her happy once. This time last year Sharon had met a man on the internet. He was an American soldier in Iraq and had promised to marry her when he left the army. Alarm bells rang in my head. I told Sharon to be careful but she wasn't having any of it. 'This one's different', she said. I wondered how many women had been duped similarly but consoling themselves with that language of exception. Sharon was suddenly frisky in tone and in the way she walked. Normally she lumbered because of her bad blood circulation.I didn't want to say more in the way of warning because of her obvious excitement. A dose of reality seemed cruel, at the least, and unwanted at the most.
Some months later Sharon told me that the 'American soldier' had duped her off lots of money but was still insisting that he would come to visit her once he had left the army. The old look Sharon was back and the joy had gone. She was back to feeling intensely lonely. Sharon wasn't being foolish when she wired money across to this nasty man, she was filling a void in her life in the hope that her faith in another human being would pay off.
On Sunday I found out that she had died in her sleep. I miss her, my daughter misses her and we wish we had done a whole lot more for her. The busyness of life sometimes does not make sense. If I can't find the time for people who live across the road from me then I need to reconsider the way I live. How many of us spend our days rushing around for appointments that we cannot even remember a week later? Yet, we will always remember those who left us.