Monday, January 19, 2009

Beverlee, RIP

We came home from a weekend ski trip to find police officers in our hallway who wondered when we had last seen our across-the-hall neighbor. Frankly, I don't remember when I saw her last. DH remembers seeing her around Thanksgiving; I think I've seen her more recently but can't be sure. The whole thing saddens me and makes me think about my responsibility to a neighbor who is elderly and alone.

Exactly a week ago I had called the doorman to ask if the staff knew her whereabouts. Her newspapers had begun to pile up and I hadn't had the telltale whiff of her afternoon "medicinal" marijuana for some time. While I was assured that all was well then, it wasn't more than a day or so later that the building manager asked if we had seen or heard her. We hadn't. In the past, I often woke up in the middle of the night and could hear her TV. Once I awoke to the sounds of passionate love-making. She was a night owl for sure. But mostly she was quiet -- and we considered ourselves lucky to have her as a neighbor.

She didn't always get along with the building staff. She complained about them to me (and occasionally they returned the favor). But knowing how easily she could be angered (she once complained heartily to my husband because we hadn't written her a thank you for a hostess gift), I just let it go. No doubt it was this attitude that made us all slow to react to the signs that something might be wrong -- no one wanted to suffer for invading her privacy. And now I worry that earlier action might have had a different result.

We all knew she wasn't well, but what exactly was the problem? She told me she suffered from diabetes (and so had terrible bruises on her leg from when she fought -- apparently physically -- with her housekeeper). She told DH that she had had a brain anyorism. The pot-as-painkiller made me suspect cancer. I still don't know. I don't even know how old she really was. I ran into her hairdresser once in the hall who told me she was in her late eighties. I would have guessed much younger -- in most of our interactions (like at our holiday parties), she had a joie de vivre, a style of dressing, and a cascade of blonde curls (although I was quite sure they were part of a wig) that implied a women much younger.

Whatever happened, I hope that her passing was peaceful and that she is in a good place.

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