My sister-in-law died this morning at 6:30. I described in my post last night the tragic family circumstances involved, and the road ahead will indeed be difficult for Sherry’s husband and young daughter (I was incorrect—today is her 5th birthday).
These situations make it easy to question the “why” of it all. Does everything really happen for a reason? Is life basically unfair? If God in fact has a plan for us all, this one is beyond mysterious. Part of the grieving process involves finding peace in whatever helps us try to make sense of what appears senseless.
While my heart is absolutely broken I want and need to focus on what was good about Sherry’s too-short life. And as I sit in quiet contemplation I find an incredibly positive lesson we can all take from this sad day.
I have known Sherry for almost her entire life. As a little girl she was terrified of pain. Removing a splinter from her foot was akin to amputating her leg without anesthesia. She would absolutely go wild and have to be physically restrained. I’m not exaggerating—it was that bad.
So first I want to celebrate her bravery throughout this entire ordeal. She unflinchingly embraced every suggested procedure that could help prolong her life. She was poked, prodded, opened up and sewed back together—you name it, she experienced it. And never once did she complain. Amazing.
Next I want to salute her patience. Sherry married somewhat late, even by today’s standards of postponing life’s big events. But she didn’t settle and waited for Mr. Right to come along. Good for her!
How about her courage for choosing to immediately bring a child into this uncertain world? And jettisoning a bright career to stay home and raise her? And continuing to drive to school and swim lessons until just a few weeks ago when she could no longer get out of bed? Remarkable.
This was a woman with reserves of passion and spirit that none of us who thought we knew her could have ever predicted. There is much we can learn about the power of love from her example. I am so proud of her.
And yet she is gone now. Sherry could not have foreseen this end to her story, and here is the larger lesson I think we can all take from her life. We can plan our journey in advance down to the slightest detail; we can envision clearly what is going to happen and when; we can anticipate arriving at our destination as well as all the events that happened along the way.
But we never truly can know what’s over the next hill or around the next curve, can we? There are in truth only two certainties of our existence—the first is our birth, and the other Sherry experienced this morning. Although we cannot write we unknowingly “sign” a lease upon our arrival, but we can’t ever be sure from moment to moment if it’s going to be renewed.
So thank you Sherry, for the example you have given us to not postpone our joy—to do and not just think about doing--to live and appreciate our lives fully each day. Your time here was worthy and valuable. I love you and will miss you always.