DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been living in my building for decades now. One of my neighbors has been here a long time, too. We have been friendly over the years, even though sometimes she has been a bit much. She can be loud and obnoxious, but mostly she’s cool.
In the early COVID days, I learned that she has cancer. She used to be a boisterous woman, but now when I see her, she seems so quiet and withdrawn. She rarely stops to talk when we see each other in the courtyard of our building like we used to do. She was always the first one to party all night long. Now -- nothing. I want to support her, but she never looks like she wants to talk. I don’t want to be pushy. How can I let her know that I am there for her if she needs or wants anything? -- Sick Neighbor
DEAR SICK NEIGHBOR: Your neighbor has the right to her privacy, of course. Living through cancer treatment can be grueling. It’s likely that she doesn’t have the energy or drive that she used to have during this period. She just can’t muster it. Sadly, cancer often diminishes people’s personalities, especially if the people were once energetic.
Without being invasive, you can slip a card under your neighbor’s door telling her that you are thinking about her. You can write her a note offering to make her a meal or run an errand if she has a need. And when you see her next in the courtyard, be warm and engaging, even if it’s only for a moment. She will appreciate that.