The Blog

steps away

I have had a lot of loss in my life. . .

My father died of Cancer when I was 9, my Mother, when I was 24, my little sister when I was 39.  Not to mention aunts , uncles cousins, and one of my closest childhood friends that I grew up with.

During all this loss, there was always a woman who was there for me.  She was like a 2nd mom to me. . . Sharon Felder.

Sharon was a young 20 year old that lived above our family when I was a little boy.  Little did I know what a huge part she'd play in my life.  When my father got sick and passed away, my mom relied on Sharon to watch me and my little sister.  Ever since then, Sharon has been there for everything.  I saw her get married and have 3 children, she threw welcome parties for my babies, she always checked in on my sister and I to make sure we were alright.

Sharon was the one who introduced me to the director I ended up working for for 6 years .  That was one of the most exciting times in my life.  Being on set of major motion pictures, traveling around the world, meeting the biggest celebrities, and having a job with a lot of responsibility.  All along, Sharon was in the next office planning all the big events for the company.  Her sense of style was immeasurable.  There was nobody that cared more about you than Sharon.  All the while, she would look out for me like I was another one of her children.

When my sister got sick, she wasn't able to work.  Sharon had told my sister's story to one of the most generous women I've ever met.  Her name was Linda Adams .  Linda ended up paying for ALL my sister's expenses so she could focus on her treatment and make an attempt to get better.  It was the single most generous things I've ever seen.  Sharon was the one who orchestrated all of this setting up a new apartment for her with all the furnishings.  She even made shirts for everyone that said "Team Marni".

My sister passed away, but her last years were certainly better for having Sharon and Linda in it.

A few years ago, I got word that Sharon, the last person / family member from my childhood, has Cancer.

This was just 2 years after my sister passed away from the same disease.

I was rocked.  It took me a few weeks , but then I called Sharon on my way home from work one day, and spoke to her for nearly my entire hour commute.  Well, talking is a loose description.  I could barely get any words out between all my crying.  I didn't want to do that to her, but I couldn't help myself.  But of course, in typical Sharon fashion, she tried to make me feel better.

She was very positive and said she was going to fight this.  I was certainly glad to hear how positive she was, but I also heard some fear in her voice for the first time.

I've never had Cancer turn out positively for anyone close to me.  I was truly hoping for the best.

I've not been one to handle things like this very well.  With EVERY person I lose, it doesn't get any easier. . in fact it has gotten nearly unbearable to deal with.

Months went by and I hadn't talked to Sharon.  I couldn't do it.  Selfishly, I couldn't bear to hear her voice knowing she was stricken with this terrible disease.

So I waited. . .

and waited. .

and waited. . .

I would get updates from my step sister that Sharon came to her little girl's birthday party.  I would hear updates from former co-workers that they had a shopping outing.  etc. . .

It has now been 2 years later.

I don't get back to Los Angeles much anymore with the craziness that all our lives become, especially after having kids.

Well, I had to go to Los Angeles for work for 3 days.  I stayed in Burbank. . . 15 minutes from Sharon's house.

I said to myself. . . I need to go see Sharon.  The first night, I saw a friend for dinner who lived walking distance to my hotel.

The 2nd , and last night, I said . . . " I have to go see Sharon tonight".  I got knots in my stomach.

After work I went back to my hotel and sat there for an hour contemplating what I should do.

I got in my car, drove to her house, and sat out front.  I must have sat there for 2 hours. . .scared, crying, frustrated, angry.

I was hoping someone would come outside and see me so that I would be forced to make contact.

After my 2 hour struggle, I started my car, drove back to my hotel, and went to sleep.

3 weeks later, Sharon passed away.

I had no idea she was that ill when I was "feet" away from her.  I want to think that if I had known, I would have gotten out of my car. . .but I didn't.

If I had just knocked on the door.

I went to the funeral which was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  Hearing stories of Sharon, seeing photos, and seeing her family made my selfish, childlike behavior hurt even more.

There have been plenty of things I wished I had done in my life, but none will live with me everyday the rest of my life like this one.

by Michael Clemens