Friday, June 14, 2013
My friend Sheri called me one evening and told me she'd found a lump in her breast, had it biopsied, and was having a mastectomy in the morning. I was shocked. She told me not to worry and that it would be okay. We talked about why not a lumpectomy and about her husband and daughter. Later, I remembered another lady from my church who'd had the same surgery and I called her to ask if she could go see Sheri that night before the surgery. Sheri wasn't mad at me and was actually grateful to have someone to talk with who'd been through the procedure. I first met Sheri about 8 years earlier when my oldest son was ready for preschool. Sheri had a degree in early childhood education and had pioneered our local YWCA's Little School for 3-4 year old's. We lived at the duck hunting club and Sheri always made home visits before a child started in her classes. Now, it was 3 miles from the gate to our house and I was running late the day she was to arrive. Our road was a muddy mess so I was supposed to meet her at the gate. As I drove to the gate, here came Sheri, pant legs rolled up and shoes dangling from her purse slugging her way through the mud so she wouldn't be late to her next appointment. That is the kind of person she was. Over the years that my boys attended her preschool, we became good friends and prayer partners. We eventually started a prayer group with another friend, Carol. What a blessed oasis that weekly meeting was for the three of us! We were all busy, working mom's and this was an hour respite from our hectic lives. Sheri took radiation and chemo for her cancer. She worked the whole time and would cry with me about feeling like she was failing us by being so weak and tired. She survived the treatments and saw her daughter off to college before the cancer returned. This time it was in her neck. She had more radiation that shrunk the tumor. It was parent's weekend at the college and Sheri and Dick returned home just as Sheri got very ill. Her ureters were blocked and she was in such pain. The doctor did surgery to open them up. Carol and I waited till Sheri's husband told us she was in recovery and he was going to stay the night before we went home to our families. About 4 AM he called. He'd only left for a bit to go home and shower and clean up. The nurse found her and Sheri's heart had stopped. They did a code blue and got it started, but, she'd been out too long. The next day they did an EEG and there was no brain activity. Her family took her off life support and that was how she died. When I learned the news I was so mad at her husband for leaving her. Either Carol or I would have been happy to have stayed with her if only he'd called us. As I was driving back to town from the school I was at when I got the call, I felt her presence in the car and I sensed that Sheri was there to let me know that it was all right. I've never lost that feeling and I know that right now I can ask "What would Sheri say or do?" and the answer will be there for me. Sheri taught me that when you love someone, they become a part of you and always abide with you even if not physically present. You see, she was a great teacher.