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Monday, July 13, 2009

Gone too soon.

I first met my neighbor Becky when I was hanging up Christmas lights for my tree-trimming party. I knew she had bought the condo on the other end of my building because that guy that I briefly dated last summer knew the previous owners and always asked me if it had sold yet. So, I noticed it sold right around Thanksgiving time.

Anyhow, Becky seemed nice right off the bat, and I invited her to my party that evening. However, she had other plans.

Everyone wants a neighbor like Becky. When the wind blew the covers off my new LED Christmas lights, Becky would pick them up out of the yard and leave them on my steps for me. (Only once did I step on them and smush them, but that was my fault.) When Chris left his headlights on all day, Becky lent us jumper cables. When all my other neighbors looked down on Chris and didn't really want him around, Becky was always friendly to him and Shelby.

Becky's dog Duchess would sit on the back of her couch and bark at me when I went to get my mail. In fact, Duchess barked at me every time she saw me. Somedays, when I would come out of my house and Duchess would be barking like crazy, it would scare me a little. The way she barked, you'd think Duchess was a Doberman, but I think she was some sort of dauschaund or schnauzer or something.

In early May, Becky had some family members come for a visit. I noticed she was always wearing sunglasses and seemed to rely on them for help, so I figured she'd maybe had some sort of eye surgery and needed someone to help her as she convalesced. And, in fact, right before my birthday, when she asked me to help her get back to her house after Duchess' morning walk, she told me that she had some surgery and her son was there helping her, but he was still asleep and she thought she'd be OK to take Duchess out.

I helped her into the house and gave her the morning paper that was on her stoop. I didn't realize that would be my last substantial conversation with my dear neighbor.

The following week, we went to Florida. And after we returned, I noticed there was always at least one person with Becky. It appeared she was no longer working, and I would always see her with a family member helping her in and out of the house.

I kept telling my mom, "I think there is something really wrong with Becky." But I didn't want to be nosy and intrude on her.

At the end of June, they put a wheelchair ramp up to the house. I ran into some of my other neighbors and asked them if they knew what was going on.

And they told me that Becky was dying.

Apparently, at the end of April she was having double vision, so she went to the doctor. That surgery she'd had in early May was to remove a pea-sized tumor. When she went back to the doctor -- around the time she asked me to help her back to her house -- the cancer had spread throughout her body.

In June, Becky decided to discontinue her treatments, and she passed away on the 4th of July.

I've really been upset about the loss of this woman, who was just the neighbor at the other end of the building that I saw walking her dog when I would come to and from work. I'm upset because it took about two months from her diagnosis to her death, and that's not enough time. I'm upset because while I only knew her for a few months, we could've been good friends if she hadn't passed away.

I'm upset because when she and I were complaining about the condo dues going up a few months ago, I said "If you think it's not worth it now, wait until summer when the grass is halfway up your calves."

And damn it, I never thought that she wouldn't make it to see that. It just doesn't seem fair. She was too young. She was just starting a new chapter in her life in a new home.

It's hard. And it was really hard when Shelby asked me why Duchess didn't bark at us Saturday when we went to get the mail.

I'll miss, Becky, and I'll miss her "dog-dog," even though I'm pretty sure Duchess hated me.

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