I think may have been standing in my kitchen when my neighbor, Dolores, passed today. I was trying not to look through the windows (from mine) next door, but I couldn't help it. There were cars all over our street. There were people filling their house. I could just feel the grief. I could even see them standing there, waiting. Then, I think I saw them crying.
When we first moved here, I used to somewhat hyperventilate at how close our house was to our neighbors' houses, but after awhile, I began to really, really embrace it. In fact, I started to love it. (I grew up with my nearest neighbors being a quarter mile away.)
Dolores was diagnosed with cancer back in November. When Frank told me, I was stunned. Seconds before the news, I had been frustrated—yelling at Henry because we needed to get into the house (God knows I was too busy with everything just prior to the holidays), and Henry was trying to open the garage door to get to the trikes. When Frank told me, the garage door or getting inside or the holidays weren't so important anymore. I remember walking into the house and realizing my face was soaking wet. It wasn't raining.
I could tell Frank knew it was serious—even if the doctors had expressed hope. His face said it all. I don't even think I heard what he said beyond, "Dolores has cancer," and, "We had no warning," and, "She just lost her balance one day."
Dolores had been ripping giant plants out of the ground from the roots just a few months prior. I was 10 months pregnant with Everett, and I'd watch her move in her yard with such ease to the point of where I'd say to myself, "That woman is in better shape and stronger than I am! I can only hope to be that awesome at that age."
I had wondered, however, if something had gone wrong recently. I started noticing that they had more visitors than usual (prior to Frank's news), and at one point, I do remember seeing a walker through the window (again, I couldn't help but to notice/look). I feared that maybe she had fallen and broken a hip. I had not even imagined cancer.
I delivered Christmas cookies to their house just prior to Christmas, and Frank informed me that Dolores was in the hospital but hoped to be home for Christmas (which is also her birthday). He seemed pretty hopeful at the time that she'd be able to achieve that goal and remain home comfortably. It's so sad that he didn't get to have those hopes fulfilled.
Nora and Henry love to stand on our fence and holler at/chat with Dolores when she's outside working in their garden. I'm pretty confident that Nora may have even professed her love to both Dolores and Frank this summer across the fence (which means Henry did, too—copycat). Dolores always talks to them, and her voice is so stinking sweet. How am I ever going to explain to them where she has gone?
She was our neighbor, and we loved her.