THE recent death of Sharon Freeman has left an enormous sense of loss, not just for her immediate family but to the wider Carlow community.
Sharon’s life personified hope, courage, resilience and determination.
Her life was all about ability: her ability to overcome physical restriction, to be determined, to engage in friendship and community, to share, to reach out to others with friendship and compassion – and, ultimately, her ability to inspire in others a sense that we have much to be grateful for and life indeed is certainly worth being lived to the full.
Sharon never ever complained, and perhaps she had much reason to. Instead, she embraced the challenge and relished every opportunity to enjoy her life.
Sharon was blessed with a loving family.
My heartfelt sympathy goes to her mother and father Carmel and Brendan, to her sister Melissa, her brothers Kenneth, Brendan, Justin and Darren; to her aunt Catherine, her uncles, grandmother and extended family.
Sharon was also blessed with fantastic friends, whose love and deep friendship was so palpable at her requiem Mass.
Memories were shared of her young life growing up in Hanover, Carlow, playing the usual childhood games and forging lifelong friendships with many of her neighbours.
This friendship would later see her pay visits to Archie’s pub and Mimes Nightclub.
She loved ‘music and craic’ and nothing more than revelling in her pint of Bulmers and her customary straw.
Stories were told of how, when reaching Quinnsworth, the trolley would often be used as ‘an aid of transport up that famous hill, en route to Hanover’.
Her blonde hair, legendary fashion and bright eyes brought so much happiness and love wherever she went.
Sharon’s life was a model for independent living. The support of the Irish Wheelchair Association and carers facilitated such independence. I greatly affirm these agencies, and people who encourage those who live with physical restriction to live life to the full.
Sharon was also a woman of faith. I’m sure her faith fuelled that sense of compassion that often befriended many who felt isolated or on the margins.
Sharon was part of the famous youth pilgrimage to Rome in 1981, where she held the hand of the late Pope John Paul II. She also made many pilgrimages to Lourdes.
At just 44 years of age, Sharon’s diagnosis with terminal cancer seems so unfair for a woman who already had so many crosses to overcome.
Often, faith does not provide the answers to the why of human suffering; rather, it helps embrace the vulnerability and wounds of the human spirit. Sharon, typical to her resolute character, bore her final illness with courage and acceptance.
Sharon loved the sun. She took full advantage of the warm rays and made many holidays abroad with family and friends. The light of Sharon’s life is brighter than the darkness and pain of her loss.
Sharon’s ability proved to be so inspirationally greater than the disability of her physical restriction.
I pray that in the light and warmth of eternal life her blonde hair and elegance will dance and sing to the beautiful music of our eternal home. Sharon, the people of Carlow will always treasure your life and your legacy. Amen.