Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sherry Arnold: A True Light

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:

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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:

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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

SUAR

78 comments:

  1. Im so sorry about this whole situation... I am praying for her family and friends (you)... and will continue to do so!!

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  2. As we ran this morning, we talked about Sherry and we talked about you. She will not be forgotten.
    Please keep us posted on the virtual run....we are IN!

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  3. Still praying for some closure in this terrible situation. Very interested in the virtual run - anything to honor her.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your lovely memories.

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  5. Thinking of and praying for you all. What a wonderful friendship you had, and how great for her that this cool city girl could come visit and see that she was all that.

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  6. Thank you for sharing this, Beth. I think it made us all feel like we knew her a little more.

    God bless you and the rest of the family.

    Still praying.

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  7. So good to read this from you. Happy you got to run too. Focusing on the good and the positive is the way to go and I pray that will continue for you. I continue to pray for you and your family.

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  8. Just truly a sad time for anyone thos knew Sherry. I did not, but feel like I know a little bit about her from your posts. I will stay tuned on news and especially the virtual run! I am praying for you and anyone how knew and loved her. God Bless you all.

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  9. Thanks for sharing! This morning at RnR Phoenix half, I thought of all the reasons I keep signing up for these things and Sherry came to mind. I have a feeling many others were thinking of her too today! You have said such amazing things about her, that she's become more than a runner to all of us.

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  10. Wow I am so sorry about your situation. I hope that you get some closure and peace soon, and that you remember that so many people are thinking and praying about you and your family! ♥

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  11. Running 21 miles this weekend i thought about Sherry at some point during each one of them. You and the rest of her family will remain in my thoughts and prayers. Beth, you have brought her into so many of our lives... know that her story has touched more of us than you may ever know.

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  12. Man, this is such a horrible situation. I'm glad you're finding the happy memories you have from your time together.

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  13. I thought of Sherry this past Saturday during my run and said a prayer. If there is a virtual run and if you know what her favorite color is, I would love to wear it during the run to remember her.

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  14. I'm so sorry. I pray you get some closure soon.

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  15. such a sad sad situation. Why do these terrible things have to happen? I am afraid to go to the apartment treadmill by myself now. Life can be so short. I will keep her family in my prayers. And take care of yourself SUaR

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  16. So glad to see that you're back on the wagon, peeing and spitting. I know it's cheesey to say Sherry would want that, but....keep up the good thoughts, there are plenty of us sending them your way. The virtual run is a great way to honor her, keep us posted.

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  17. So sorry and you are right, the light is not out.....

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  18. My heart is broken for your family, community, and the school. As a fellow Montanan that runs on rural gravel farm roads...this has shook me up so bad that I haven't run outside since I heard about it last Sunday. I know that I need to get past it and YOU have been such an inspiration and I thank you for the updates and your encouragement. God be with you and Sherry will be looking down on you every run.

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  19. During my run today, my thoughts never left Sherry. I never met this woman, yet I will never for get her. I plan on dedicating the race I'm currently training for to her.

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  20. What sweet memories you have of your time with her. I can imagine the sense of loss and sorrow this has brought you. I am so sorry this happened :(

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  21. My family is in on the virtual. I'd, quite honestly, be honored to be a part of it. In a tragic, horrifying situation good does come. Just in my family we've talked more about safety and shitty people. My husband asks me for updates and it's brought us closer. Your willingness to unabashedly share Sherry's story and your personal grief makes us feel more a part of, closer, as if we not only know you but Sherry as well. That, my dear, is a beautiful thing. Thank you for that gift. On another note, I've missed your poop, fart, spit, snot rocket, peeing, goofy stories as well as the word "pussy". I'm glad - although you will be forever changed - you are coming back to us.

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  22. Your post made me cry, a lot Beth! It's wonderful to share
    In your happy memories of Sherry. Thank you!

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  23. Thank you for sharing your memories with all of us. Today, I ran my fourth half marathon. Along the way, I tried to dedicate each mile to someone or something that was important in my life. Mile 5 was dedicated to Sherry. This tragedy affects all of us as runners. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  24. sherry's spirit is living vibrantly. Thank you for sharing that with us as we continue to pray for this situation. May each run be in memory of her GEE voice, kind and passionate.

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  25. Although I'm way over her in the UK, I just heard of this awful story and as a fellow runner send my deepest sympathy to all of Sherry's family and friends. xx

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  26. When I ran yesterday, I thought about Sherry. The whole situation breaks my heart.

    MSNBC had the story on their main page yesterday afternoon. I read and it and my heart just breaks for you all.

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  27. It doesn't seem enough to say that I am so sorry for your loss. Senseless acts like this one will never have complete closure and will impact you and your family forever. Please know that I continue to pray for you and the rest of Sherry's family. And to everyone . . . be careful out there. You just never know.

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  28. I had a hard time making it through music at church yesterday. It really felt like everything we sang touched on the need to have hope and the importance of "running" (yes, the lyrics were said running)to our faith in times of pain and sorrow. God is good. God is everywhere. Even in the pain. Peace be with you and yours. And hugs to you and yours. I am eagerly awaiting news of the virtual run.

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  29. I'm so sorry and I hope for closure soon for your family!

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  30. Thank you for sharing such beautiful, precious memories. Sherry will live on in our hearts through them.

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  31. I would be honored to participate in a virtual race for Sherry. I hope that you and all those who loved her find peace and comfort soon and I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Kathryn

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  32. That is so true. I lost a good friend of mine in high school whose qualities and attributes I keep with me to this day. (FYI: She too, was an open farter)

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  33. I am heartbroken for you and her family over this whole situation. I hope everyone gets closure and finds peace soon. Hugs!

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  34. I am so sorry, thinking and praying for you and your family at this time. I'm in on a virtual run!!

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  35. I continue to pray for the family. My sister lives in the Northwest corner of ND and the way the population has changed there over the last few years with the oil boom is definitely unsettling at times. This is absolutely horrible. Treasure the memories.

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  36. Thank you for sharing your memories of Sherry. I am praying for your family during this rough time. I am also interested in the virtual race when you get that set up, what a great way to honor her memory.

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  37. Thanks for continuing to share her light through your memories (even the silly hair, clothes and fart stories). May your family find closure, comfort and peace soon.

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  38. How can they confirm a death without finding a body? Either way, I hope you all get closure soon and that she is at peace.

    Keep remembering the good and let her love and memory shine on. Sherry's spirit is so much stronger than the evil.

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  39. a gaggle of geese = a stand of trees

    thinking you and Sherry.

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  40. I have thought about sherry, you, and all your family this past week. I am still hoping the authorities are wrong. This is devastating. I don't understand what is WRONG with people these days.

    Beautiful post about some of your memories with your cousin. Thinking and praying for your family.

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  41. thank you for sharing your first visit with Sherry. It's nice to really know more about her as a person. Even tho I never met her I will remember her.

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  42. Lovely memories. I know you will cherish them. So sorry for your loss.

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  43. So sorry to hear about your loss. She will always be in your heart, but it doesn't help the hurt. I too worry about this situation with my husband, I will now be more vigilant about where/when he runs. Please keep us posted on the virtual run.

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  44. Thank you for sharing your lovely memories with us. I can't read enough about her. Please keep Sherry alive with your writing.

    May peace find you and her family soon.

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  45. I would be honored to run in a virtual run or anything to honor her memory.
    I will also continue to pray for you, her family and friends. Hope you all find some strength and peace in our Lord.

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  46. Something like this shakes you to the core; it's so unfathomable how it could happen. Keep focusing on the good memories and keep us posted on the virtual run; I want to be part of honoring her as well. I'm still praying for closure for the whole family and community.

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  47. Thank you, sincerely.

    Trying to find some shred of...something...to take away from this, it's prompted some serious heart-to-heart talks, and some hard changes in attitude and practice for Vanessa and I for solo runs and rides.

    Thank you, again, for all that you do.

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  48. I was watching TV and someone used this quote, and I thought of Sherry:

    “To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die.” –Thomas Campbell

    I know it's not exactly true, and it doesn't help much right now, but there is eventual comfort in knowing that the one you have lost lives on through you and through all the others she touched. I wish that comfort and some peace for you and your family. Sending hugs and thoughts.

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  49. Dear Beth...thank you for sharing your memories about Sherry with us.

    If you create a memorial virtual run for Sherry, I will run it.

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  50. So very sorry to read this news...my thoughts are with you all during this difficult time.

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  51. I simply don't have the words. I wish I did. Sherry is on my heart and in my prayers as you all are.

    I will absolutely run for Sherry! Every run since you shared the news, she has been heavy in my mind.

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  52. Kudos to you for keeping her spirit alive and sharing with us just what kind of person she was.

    Good over evil-yes. always.

    On a lighter note-isn't a gaggle of trees called a "forest"?

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  53. I ran the Phoenix Rock n Roll marathon yesterday and thought of Sherry many times throughout the race. I visualized her running with me with a smile on her face. I continue to keep you and all the family in my thoughts and prayers.

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  54. I love your memories of a beautiful soul. Keep strong, thinking of you and Sherry's whole family often.

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  55. Beautiful memories of a beautiful person. And you are so right--her light will shine on.

    I'm so heartbroken for you and all of Sherry's loved ones.

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  56. I thought of Sherry when I ran in Boulder this weekend, such a tragic loss, I cannot even imagine. I really hope you do host a virtual race if the immediate family is in support, I would like to help in any small way I can. Sherry’s story has me thinking a lot about running alone esp. in the dark, it’s sad we have to worry about these kinds of things.

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  57. Beautiful post. Sherry and her family/loved ones/community have has been on my mind and in my prayers since I first heard her story.

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  58. This is such a horrible story, and my heart goes out to you and your family and hers. I hope she is found so her family can have some closure and that they find comfort in the fact that she was so loved.

    Over here in the UK Ive been warning my running club about running alone and unprotected. Its so scary to think that such things can happen to those who are truly good.

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  59. Beth I so appreciate you sharing your memories. You all continue to be in my thoughts.

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  60. Thank you for sharing stories and pictures of Sherry. It helps me to picture her as I'm praying for all of you.
    Will keep looking for info on the virtual run in her honor.

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  61. I'm so sorry for your loss. When I felt like quitting on my run today I thought of Sherry and kept on running. Thank you for sharing. Hoping you and your family get some closure soon.

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  62. I'm a first time commenter, and just have to say I am so sorry about Sherry. On my run this evening, I thought of her and tried to visualize happiness. My thoughts are with you and your family.

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  63. My heart continues to break for Sherry, you, the immediate and extended family. I am sending all of my love and prayers for you all and will continue to do so.

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  64. I have been reading your recent posts with a heavy heart. This one was wonderful to read and a nice memory to share. Thanks for staying focused on the positive. I'm so sad for your family's loss, Sherry will always live on in your heart.

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  65. One strange blessing is that you have had the ability to honor Sherry through your writing and your blog. I have found there are miracles in the midst of tragedy--and I think your writing may be one of many miracles. You have reached many people who may have viewed Sherry through the TV screen and nothing else . . . FYI, I think you and I had the same hair-dresser as kids : ) Laugh & cry at the same time, and bring on that virtual race!

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  66. Continuing to pray for you and the rest of the family, especially that they will get more evidence to find her body and bring some closure.

    We would also be in for the virtual run.

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  67. "When you have someone you love in Heaven, you have a little bit of Heaven in your home."

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  68. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. My thoughts remain with you and Sherry's family.

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  69. Echoing all the prayers and well wishes for you and Sherry's family. Will be looking for the privilege to run in memory of her. Thanks for sharing, and all you do to keep me running

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  70. You are such an inspiring and positive individual. I send my love and good thoughts to you everyday xoxo

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  71. Beautiful. I feel like I know Sherry from reading your posts. The woman that she was will also live on in my memory of her, through your words.

    Thinking of you and her family and friends and students during what I know must be a horribly difficult time. I'm so sorry.

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  72. I'm so sorry about this. As a runner, her death haunts me. I so appreciate what you said about how the good certainly outweighs the evil. May you and her family feel all the good and may it pull them through.

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  73. I've been trying to put my head in the sand about this because of my anxiety, but I know that's not the right thing to do. Just know that we are thinking of you and all the others who loved her so dearly. I will change the things I'm doing on my run to be as safe as possible.

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    1. I came across this by accident.I can tell you that the girl in the scraf could be my twin. It made the hair stand up on my neck ! Even my husband said it looked like me. This is strange because I lost my twin sister 23 yrs. ago of brain cancer.

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