I don’t know when we might head to Montana. Sherry’s body has not been found, yet she has been confirmed dead. This is all very confusing and heartbreaking for a family who just wants some closure.
Grief and sadness weigh me down. I’m so tired.
I won’t focus on the evil parts of this story. I will say there are two malicious, heinous men who did this and thousands upon thousands of loving and good people who have reached out in support. It’s not even a close contest. The good continues to outweigh the evil by a long shot. That’s where I will put my attention.
Ken and I ran a quiet 8 miles today. We didn’t talk about Sherry, but I know we both thought about her. Such an event changes how you see things, how you feel about people. Priorities get very clear very fast when something like this happens.
During the run, I rolled my ankle once, spit on myself twice and squatted in a gaggle of trees (gaggles are geese, but what’s a bunch of trees?). Ken remarked that there is never a dull moment when running with me because I tend to have a lot of issues. So, sue me. I have a lot of issues. The run helped to clear my head and to give me some peace. There is just something about the wind on your face, your feet on the road and your elevated heartbeat that makes it all okay for just a bit.
I am fine-tuning the details of a virtual run for Sherry, but I want the immediate family’s blessing before I move forward, so stay tuned.
As is the case for all of you, Sherry’s been on my mind non-stop. I wonder about her final moments and am devastated by what might have occurred. It haunts me day and night. I try to gather up memories that I have of her. Sherry and I met when I was ten and she was nine, but then went years without seeing each other. We re-united as adults.
My earliest memory of Sherry is from when my family embarked on an adventure we called “Our West Trip.” It was a month spent on the road in our yellow Toyota wagon with no air conditioning and no seatbelts (or none that we had to wear anyway). We drove from Maryland, and one of our goals was to visit “the ranch” in Sidney, Montana. This ranch was owned by my Uncle Gary’s brother and sister in law, Sherry’s dad and mom. Gary was new to our family, having just married my aunt Lizzy.I didn’t know any of these ranch people and I hoped they were okay.
Being mostly a suburban girl, I had no clue what the hell “a ranch” was. I was used to going to the mall and getting Now ‘n Laters at the convenience store. Rural to me was hanging out on the wooded bike path behind our house and catching minnows in the creek.
I quickly learned that “the ranch” was a place where you collected eggs, had steak and pancakes for breakfast and drove out to far away pastures to check on the cows. Sherry and her sister went to school in a one room school house. For me, it was like being in a foreign country. I loved every minute of it. And, I had a really bad haircut:
In a second Sherry and I were friends. Our vastly different upbringings made no difference. It took us no time to get silly. In my ten years I had never met someone I could laugh with like I did with Sherry on that trip. If we lived closer, we would have been inseparable. I’m sure farts were involved because I think she loved those too. Fart sisters.
Here’s Sherry in a sporty yellow shirt looking very interested in her new baby cousin. That’s my mom with the Dorothy Hamill haircut. Damn, hair was bad in the 70s:
Sherry was so pretty and funny. I admired her tom-boyish strength, the way she moved around that ranch with such comfort and confidence. I remember being so jealous of her because she really was all that.
After we left the ranch, Sherry and I were pen pals. She used to say “Gee” a lot in sentences she would write to me (“Gee, it was fun to meet you”), so I started doing that too. I’m sure my suburban friends thought I had lost my mind. I wanted to be like Sherry because she was just that cool. Strong, capable, funny, compassionate. A true light.
That light is not out. It continues to live through those who loved her. She made her mark in this world and it remains alive through her students, her children and anyone who knew her. She is physically gone, but she is very much still here.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. ~From a headstone in Ireland