Our neighbor came over today and broke down crying with some bad news.
You see, a couple of months ago, their grown son came out on his front porch while I was working with the flowers in the lower part of our yard. He called out to me, "Hey! I have a girlfriend! Her name is Mary!"
Our neighbor's son has MS and though he is very smart in many things, he has his challenges. He was so elated about having a girlfriend that he had to call it out to me as soon as he saw me. I was overjoyed for him.
Later, I learned that the new girlfriend had been subjected to such a tragic life. As a child, she was abused by her parents. When she was removed from that home and placed into foster care, she was sexually abused by the foster parents. She was also molested by the small town sheriff where she grew up.
I didn't know her at all...but I'd met her once or twice. The poor girl was very overweight and cuddled close to her breast a miniature Yorkshire terrier named Scribbles. She held hands with our neighbor's son.
More background, but not a lot, drifted toward me over time. Mary was homeless, with no family at all. Our neighbors took her in, gave her her own room in their home, and provided her a sense of family. She slept perhaps only 100 feet from where I sleep in my own home.
Yesterday, she went and got a flu shot. And she told someone that she hated Halloween, that it is the "devil's day."
At 10:30 am this morning, Mary was found dead in her bed.
She was 27.
Was it the flu shot? Or did her broken heart decide to stop fighting the good fight? She was happily looking forward to getting into her own apartment in a week, moving in with the neighbor's son.
She has nothing and she has no family. If they have a memorial service, who would go? Who would they ask to go? All she had was the family next door.
As our neighbors walked out our door, I gave the wife a hard hug around the neck and I told them that if they have a service, we will attend.
I am so honored to know our sweet neighbors, to know that the home they offered Mary was the safe harbor, perhaps the only one she ever knew, for her to spend her last days. They are my heroes.