Sharon and I clicked the first time we met. We slipped into an intense friendship with ease and it felt as if we’d known each other forever. Sharon was the kind of girl you didn’t forget after the first time you met her. She was funny, with the body of a cheer leader and perfectly chiseled features. She was smart too, and men seemed to hang onto every word she uttered. She was the girl who seemingly had it all.
She met Alberto, with his movie star looks, at the gym, which they visited twice a day, 365. Soon they were living together in a cottage on her parents’ farm and for years they were besotted.
Alberto was obsessed. With Sharon, the gym and his guns. Those closest to Sharon were concerned for her safety, and one by one her friends and colleagues began retreating. She just didn’t see what they did, despite discussions about how his flaunting his guns was not “normal”.
I would spend hours planning her escape. Eventually she plucked up the courage and told Alberto she wanted out. She found the strength to leave him as a new love interest was taking shape, with a Greek God, Pantelli, a 22-year-old concert promoter.
Sharon’s Mom – worried about a possible clash between Alberto and Sharon’s protective Dad – asked if Sharon could spend the weekend with me. My brother had gone away for a few days and I offered up his bedroom.
Alberto suspected Sharon was seeing someone and set her up. A showdown ensued at my house on Saturday afternoon, where both men turned on her and left as besties, only to see Pantelli return a short while later to beg forgiveness. Riddled with guilt, Alberto arrived at my house the next day and saw Sharon and Pantelli’s cars. He jumped my six-foot wall and approached my kitchen door at the very moment my helper, Mama Rebecca, unlocked the security gate to feed the dogs.
“Lisssssaaa, Alberto’s here,” Mama Rebecca blurted, rushing into my bedroom, wide-eyed. Alberto was right behind her.
“Hi, Albie, how are you?” I prayed he wouldn’t ask me where Sharon was. As his eyes darted around my room, the walls were closing in on me.
In a trance, I turned my back on him and headed for the bathroom. Mama Rebecca followed me. With trembling hands, I locked the door. The windows were barricaded by security bars. We were trapped. Hearts pounding. Waiting.
Three deafening shots rang out. I whispered, “One for Sharon, one for Pantelli, one for Mike,” my friend in the spare room.
“We are next, Mama, we’ve got to get out. I must plead for our lives face to face rather than through a locked door.”
Mama pulled at me, begged me not to go.
Lisa Loeb was born in Cape Town, into a family of four brothers with a South African mom and German dad. Raised in a rural Afrikaans community, at age 18 she packed her life into her Mazda and moved to Johannesburg. She co-owns About Entertainment, representing some of South Africa’s leading entertainers. In 2009 Lisa graduated from UCT with a PGDip in Business Management specializing in Events. She is married to a special soul and is Mom to two glorious human and three fur kids. She loves writing, reading, travelling, massages, beach walks, heart-stopping sunsets, running, yoga, dancing, meditating, coffee and one-on-one time with a friend.
I broke free, unlocked the door and sneaked into the passage, expecting Alberto around every corner. There was only a deathly silence.
I crept into the spare room where Mike was frantically looking for his contact lenses, whilst lurching for the cupboard, the only hiding place within reach.
I bolted back into the passage towards my brother’s room.
The door was ajar. Sharon was sprawled on the floor, murmuring, blood pumping from her neck.
“Oh my God,” I wailed, remembering Alberto. Where is he? I have to get away. Get help. I ran to my bedroom, backwards, forwards. Where were the keys for the security gate?
Mama found the keys and unlocked the security gate. My bare feet ached as I flew across the sharp edges of gravel, towards the street, the neighbor, the phone. I called the police, the ambulance and Sharon’s Mom, unsure if they understood through my sobs.
A crowd was gathering outside my gate as I ran back towards my house.
The police arrived first. Mama and Mike came out of their hiding places and the three of us were questioned in separate rooms after being told that Sharon and Pantelli were dead. Alberto was brain dead. Unbeknownst to me, he had shot himself and fallen behind the door in the bedroom.
When the bodies of Sharon and Pantelli had been taken to the morgue and the police finally left, I held Sharon’s silk shirt to my face, breathing in her smell, then quickly shoved it into my cupboard.
I called my therapist, weeping uncontrollably. “Alberto shot them both, and he himself is brain dead in the hospital.”
“I’m bringing you a tranquillizer,” he said as my brother walked in from his weekend away. My guilt engulfed me. I had not asked his permission to have Sharon stay in his bedroom.
I offered to swap rooms, but my bewildered brother declined. I paid for a new futon, carpet, curtains and had his room repainted, all the time wondering if any of these gestures would compensate for moving back into a room where the spirits of trauma lurked.
I spiraled into blackness. Some days I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. Feeling closest to Sharon when at home, I talked to her constantly, begging for a sign that she was still around. I couldn’t accept that I would never hear her voice again.
A few weeks later she visited me in a dream. She told me “they” were helping her accept where she was. She was in a hospital with the young one and has been to visit “the other one” who was in a bad place. Her parting words were, “He put himself there.”
I started reading about life after death, forcing myself to keep going.
My therapy sessions increased to a few times a week.
I picked up on the tour that Sharon and I were working on with my friend Mike, believing that’s what she would have wanted. I looked for signs everywhere. I had to connect with Sharon. A whiff of her favorite “Samsara” perfume would jolt me back to thoughts of, ‘If only I’d tried harder to get her away from him’.
A few months later I packed up and moved to another city where I visited a psychic who knew nothing about me. He saw a love triangle, though I wasn’t one of the people in it.
“When they ask for your help you should refuse,” he said.
“It’s too late, they’re all dead,” I cried.
He explained that Sharon and I had a past life pact.
I had promised Sharon in a previous life to facilitate her paying back a karmic debt. I was shrouded in an inexplicable sense of peace as he spoke. A sense of profound knowing.
My hunger for healing was all consuming. I immersed myself in reading about Karma and past lives and I started meditating. I took eighteen months off work to dig deep into my pain and to make sense of the lesson that would remain with me always.
My second name is Sharon. Our bond is eternal.
Despite the passing years, every time I complete a document that requires my full name I am reminded of my beautiful friend, whose short life was so entwined with mine.
But through my pain came understanding. Our lives, the worlds and hope are all interconnected. By living life and being open to the signs that come from departed loved ones, I can find peace in the knowledge that they are all around us. Through remembering the past, I can more easily move into the future. And by seeking to learn from tragedy, I contribute to my own well-being and to my journey to heal and find beauty amid the mire.
Joanne Fedler Media blog joins the global women’s campaign, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which starts from the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November) up to Human Rights Day (10th December). We would love you to share these stories on social media (using the hashtags: #OrangeUrWorld #OrangeTheWorld #HearMeToo #EndVAW), with your girlfriends, mothers, daughters, friends and sisters.
During this period, Joanne Fedler’s book, Things Without a Name (10th Anniversary Edition), can be downloaded for FREE.
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Things Without a Name
(10th Year Anniversary Edition)
by Joanne Fedler
At 34, Faith has given up on love. Her cleavage is disappointing, her best friend is clinically depressed and her younger sister is getting breast implants as an engagement present. She used to think about falling in love, but that was a long time ago. Having heard one too many love-gone-wrong stories from the other side of her desk, Faith is worn thin by her work as a legal counsellor in a women’s crisis centre. Then one night, an odd twist of fate brings her to a suburban veterinary clinic where she wrings out years of unshed tears. It is a night that will slowly change the way she sees herself and begin the unearthing of long-buried family secrets so she can forgive herself for something she doesn’t remember, but that has shaped her into the woman she is today. Faith will finally understand what she has always needed to know: that before you can save others, you have to save yourself.
Come and Join the Midlife Memoir Breakthrough
A Five-Day Live Event in Sydney with Joanne Fedler
In this hands-on, intimate workshop (an eclectic mix of teaching, instruction, writing exercises, meditations, ritual, sharing and other joyful activities), I will teach you how to take the material of your life – the moments that counted, no matter how shattering or modest – and weave them into a memoir that makes sense of it all.