Sher of What Did You Eat? passed away Sunday morning of a sudden heart attack. I don't know how to begin to memorialize her or even wrap my brain around the idea that she won't be in my life anymore. Sherry and I have emailed or left texts for each other almost every day for over eight years. We shared the glories and the minutia of our lives, everything from our our deepest joys and sorrows to the every day frustrations of being married, being overweight, living in our own heads, my work in the hospital, her work with the animal rehab center, what books we were reading, what movies we saw, and what a crack whore Paris Hilton looks like most of the time (one of our favorite topics, actually). Even when I got busy with school or lately would get busy with work and be off the computer for a few days I'd always come back to a string of emails from Sherry, some serious, some light, some jokes, and some questions pondering the universe that only Sherry would think of and only I would not see as weird things to talk about.
In the hours since talking to her husband, Bob, I have stopped myself at least a dozen times from leaving off what I was doing in the moment to go to the computer to email my friend Sherry about how crappy I feel about my friend Sherry dying. That's how big a part of my life she was.
You may laugh (or be horrified) to know that Sherry and I met on a Robert Redford fan site. We quickly bonded over our insanely obsessive need to shoot sarcasm from the hip. Aside from the movie news and the occasional "lost" vintage RR pic, our favorite thing was sit back on the sidelines of the group and poke fun of all the women who referred to the actor as "Bob" and in a way that made it seem like they thought they really knew him or could deduce his thoughts from a photo layout. We were generally the "bad" kids of the class who would giggle behind our hands, and occasionally screw up and send our comments to the very people we were making fun of. So...after being sent to the "corner" several times for being "disrespectful" we finally resigned from the group (or got kicked out, I can't remember) and started our own group between the two of us. Of course, by then we'd moved way beyond talking about Mr. Redford and spent much more time chatting about all celebs in general, our favorite books, cooking, growing up, etc.
Sherry and I had somewhat similar childhoods and eerily similar moms. Both raised in the south, we were both also the oldest and spent hours in the kitchen with our moms learning to cook, knit, and do all things domestic. We even both learned the all important southern girl trait of taking on too much, too many people, doing or being whatever was needed at the time, and feeling guilty any time we said the word "No."
One of the things I most love Sherry for is the journey we've taken together over the last decade where we have learned to know the difference between helping our families and friends and enabling them. It's harder than it looks. We often discussed over the last few years how much we've both changed and how that change has not only been good for us but for the people we love. We learned together that loving people isn't always about doing for them until we're too tired to take care of our own family, taking away their own personal responsibility, or making people be what we want or need them to be.
Sherry lived in Davis, CA, while I'm in Springfield, MO. The only time we've ever been in the same space together in real time is when we spent almost a week together in the fall of 2006. My husband and I flew into Lake Tahoe and Gene stayed there playing poker. Sherry and Bob picked me up and took me back to California for the week. Sherry showed me many things, places, and people she loved in her life, but mostly we just talked. We hung out in the house and her gorgeous garden, with Upsie, like old friends who'd known each other forever and don't need the trappings of tourist sites to carry on a conversation.
I will always treasure that week. I had planned to fly back out to Davis this winter, the first of December, for Sherry's 60th birthday. We were going to get Lizz and Nancy and other friends together in a limo and go hit the town, or whatever consists of "wild" to people like us to whom turning in a library book late is considered rebellion.
Sherry often talked about starting a blog of her sister Antonia's writing. Antonia, like my own sister, another thing we shared, had lost her way for a while but beneath her problems, Antonia was a generous and talented person whom Sherry thought the best memorial "stone" might be to publish Antonia's poems and journals as a blog. She often said that she liked the thought of Antonia always out there somewhere in cyberspace to be enjoyed and discovered by new friends. That's exactly how I see Sherry's own blog now and I'm glad that it will be there for new friends and us old friends to read the snippets from her daily life and to have her recipes to cook to celebrate her life.
Sherry and I discussed our favorite food blogs, chatting endlessly about how we'd do it and what we'd call ours if we decided to blog. Some of you may not know that the title of her blog "What Did You Eat?" came from her family. She said that as long as she could remember, her family had been very foodie, and that the first question any of them asked each other when they got back from a trip was "What did you eat?"
Sherry started her blog in November of 2005 and immediately created a following of friends. I loved everything she was doing and she often told me, when we discussed what we were working on in the kitchen, "See? If you had a blog you could be posting about that already and I could comment." I was very interested but I also didn't want her to feel like I was crowding her space. That was the beauty of Sherry. She was so generous she never felt that way. She wanted me to know all the joy she got from blogging. I opened my blog in June of the next year on almost a dare from her and have never looked back. Our blogs were just one more bond we shared that made us enjoy each other.
Someday when I arrive on the other side I expect her first question of me, once we kick off our shoes and settle into a cozy couch, to be "Good to see you Glenna. What did you eat while I was gone?"
Goodbye, my friend. You will be missed more than you could ever have guessed.