If you need to catch-up, I shared about the death of my sweet friend starting here…and today I’m writing about how we, a #tribe of now FOUR women, honored her together.
Sheri’s Memorial Service was held at our church and was a beautiful celebration of her life as well as the truth that she was now with Jesus and we would one day see her again! It began at 10:30am on Monday, June 24th and the room was full of her family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and supporters of her husband and two boys. I loved seeing a former teacher of her son, Connor, as well as former LifeGroup friends that we loved from church. As we talked over tears, hugs and laughter, I loved meeting “strangers” (to me) that knew and loved my friend.
We had arranged for a few friends to bring food for after the service and OH MY GOSH – did they ever! We had PLENTY (aka: we were handing people plates full as they left and sent boxes home with Chris and the family!). I mention this just to point out the gift of a strong community of friends – amazing.
We were touched that Chris asked for the four of us (and our husbands) to sit on the front row – across from the family. So-there we were…standing as we watched our friend’s husband, two grown sons, and their extended family enter and be seated.
I thought of how proud Sheri would have been to watch her husband of (almost) 27 years speak first – welcoming friends and family to this time of celebration. Sheri would have loved that her son read scripture and that her sister and aunt shared fun memories and what they will miss about her. She would have loved that Dirk spoke with confidence about the faith she had in Jesus as her personal Savior and that she had NO DOUBT about having her last breath on earth meaning her next would be in heaven.
And Sheri would have loved that her #tribe all walked up front together – although she would have probably been uncomfortable with the honor and “too much” words that we shared.
When we met to plan what we would share, we came up with something similar to a “Top 10 List” – we focused on things we learned from Sheri/what we loved about her. We ended up each picking a few (from the list) that we wanting to make our own and share. Some were funny…some emotional and hard to say…but all were about our deep love for our courageous friend.
Caroline went first…then Judy…then Jennifer and I was last.
My friends shared beautiful words about her character – her servant’s heart, her love of learning, her dependence on Jesus, the fact that she always wanted dessert, etc. I was so proud of them (especially Jenn – “Yahoo girl…you did it!” <-reference to a previous post!)
The following is my portion – I’m documenting it here to honor my friend and to explain our newest hashtag and why our pictures will look a little different in the future…
“While Judy pointed out that Sheri never stopped learning and growing…Sheri also modeled to us that she tended to be a creature of habit and that to have a routine was important. For instance – one night we learned that she was truly passionate about flossing her teeth. You see, this past year we all started using the app called “Marco Polo” – basically it’s sending a video of yourself talking, allowing the rest of the group to watch it whenever it’s convenient for them. Sheri always started her messages by saying, “Hi girls – I’m sending you an MP!”, like we didn’t already know that! One night, Sheri took her sleeping pill (that typically knocked her out) and then got on to send us all a message. In a LOOONG video, giving great detail (while obviously drugged) she told us all about how great her teeth felt from flossing and the importance of it. Five minutes later she posted another message (still on the couch in a darkened room) – telling us how much she loved Hot Tamales and consumed an entire box of the candy while talking about basically nothing. The following day I texted her to tell her I remembered to floss my teeth the night before – in her honor…she was surprised and asked me what I was talking about and then we roared laughing together after discussing her MP – something she had no memory of.
Every Tuesday night when the five of us gathered together, she sat in the same place on my couch…and used the same blanket…a red and white quilt with a huge hole in it. There was never a discussion on where she would sit or what she needed…same thing EVERY week.
(Basically, it was a home-made “Snuggie”! She loved putting her arm through the hole! And yes, we get that our dog, who originally produced the hole, did so in the shape of a heart!)
Sheri was neat, organized and had the best handwriting in the group. She liked everything in its place…you might say she was a bit of a control freak – actually she knew that cause we mentioned it often! 😊 However, in the end she learned that there were many things out of her control – cancer was just one of them. I loved hearing her pray through her concerns and heartache – laying them before Jesus and learning to trust Him with them.
And finally, Sheri taught us that hashtags and photos are important. At some point, we began using the popular/trending hashtag #tribe. It described us well as we had found our people and were committed to doing life together. Then, while planning a trip to NYCity together in 2016, we became #fiveOverFifty (I’m pretty sure we picked that because the rest of the ideas sounded a little scandalize. Options that surely Jenn came up with!)
One thing I loved about Sheri was that whether she had a full head of hair, none at all, or a wig or cap on – she never refused or was shy about taking a photo with us. I think she loved that it was just what we did…every time we were together. The four of us have laughed through tears this week over the fact that we really could have had our very own slide show today – we have amazing pictures with our friend that we will forever cherish.
We do have one regret: Two weeks ago we all went to Sheri’s house – we each brought a meal for the family to eat or freeze but it was really just an excuse to all be together and see our friend. She was in her usual spot on her couch and had showered, put on fresh pajamas and looked really pretty for our visit. It was the last time we were all together in the same room– a precious memory, and I wish I had insisted on a photo.
I recently read this quote from Stephen Schwartz:
“So much of me is made of what I learned from you. You’ll be with me, like a handprint on my heart.”
Our #tribe will never be the same however, we will continue meeting together, praying over Chris, Ryan and Connor and making new and fun memories – Sheri would want that. Those new memories will now be labeled with a new hashtag – #fiveOverFiftyFOREVER and each photo will include one of us holding up a hand representing the FIVE of us and honoring our friend, Sheri.
Thank you for allowing us to speak as a group today – Sheri would not have wanted it any other way.”