If you are a close friend (and/or see me on social media), you have heard about my friend – Sheri. Sheri has been part of my #tribe and a close personal friend for many years. We have been in each other’s lives for almost two decades, but have truly “done life together” on a deep and intimate level for the last five or six years. Bottom line, we would both say we are “known” by the other – a gift I do not take lightly.
While I treasure my individual relationship between the two of us, “we” really includes FIVE women who have referred to ourselves as #fiveOverFifty. We have experienced joy and heartache together…laughter and pain. We have met weekly and prayed over our kids and husbands…job loss and promotions…difficult relationships…and many other things that I can’t share! We have also prayed and encouraged each other over our desire for a deeper faith and trust in Jesus; as well as being intentional to confess sin and hold each other accountable.
While we have experienced “life” together – we have also experienced death together.
Parents. Friends. Co-workers.
And, in the early hours of June 18th, Sheri.
Before I talk about her death, let me talk about her life.
Our sweet friend bravely fought cancer for the last 12 years. We prayed over the initial diagnoses (complete with surgery and treatment), celebrated in times that it was “gone” or at bay, and prayed more each time it returned or caused issues with her quality of life. She had times where we almost “forgot” she was sick and times that we stormed heaven for relief from pain and discomfort. It wasn’t till the last few weeks that we ever heard her really “complain” – and it came by way of just admitting that she was struggling with not feeling well and being sick of being in bed. Still, even when things were hard (ok…HORRIBLE) for her, she always wanted to know what was happening outside her bedroom walls and how she could be praying for us.
Sheri was a strong, beautiful, amazing woman…she loved her family and friends well and was an example to all who knew her.
But-most importantly, Sheri was secure in who she was because of Jesus. She was loved, cherished, seen and worthy of His death on the cross. We know, because we discussed it and shared with each other, that she had trusted Jesus to be her Savior and had completely peace that after she took her last breath here, her next breath would be in heaven…
…And on June 18th that happened.
We were/are left with a mix of emotions. I miss my friend terribly, but I am beyond jealous for what she’s experienced since she entered heaven. Her husband sent me a text two weeks ago and said, “I know we all miss Sheri…but as much as I miss her, I wouldn’t ask her to leave where she is now and come back and suffer one more day.” I’d give almost anything to have her here, but I agree with Chris.
One of the great things about living intentionally/authentically with someone is not having any regrets on what you wish you would have said or feeling panicked about what to say in those final moments. When we received a text from Sheri’s husband, saying she was so weak and he had called an ambulance, we all rushed to the hospital. Being there was our way to love on her during those final hours, offer support to her family and to cry a whole lot of tears together.
While we each made sure we said, “I love you, Sheri” every time we entered or exited the ER room, I’m so thankful that none of us have felt that we left anything “unsaid” or that we wish we had more time to make SURE she knew we loved her or that she loved us.
She knew. We knew.
(I will say that I’m so thankful that, while she was mostly asleep that last day, she often found the strength to whisper “I love you too” – it wasn’t necessarily “needed” but such a gift to hear one last time.)
Last night the remaining four of our tribe met (as we always do on Tuesday nights) and I shared about what I’m doing with a quiet house and the gift of being TOTALLY alone in it this week. Jennifer said, “So, what are you going to do tomorrow?” and I replied, “I think I’m going to write about Sheri.” The group just sat and nodded and then Jenn added, “I wondered when you were going to do that.” (Side note: they all expected ME to do this at some point…but I’m wondering why, as we do have a professional writer in the group – JUDY!!) 😊
The days after she died were a whirlwind of grieving, trying to offer support to her family, and coming to the decision on who would have the privilege (as well as the emotional strength to hold it together) to share some words at her Memorial Service.
While I definitely want to process all of that (you all get that that’s what this “blog thing” is for me, right?), that story will need to be shared tomorrow/another day…
One of many photos of “us” – just happens to be when we were planning our trip to New York City! (gosh…I have to write about that some day too!)
Read #sheri – Part 2 by clicking here.