Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grieving for good

The internal pictures of my early childhood include a series of things ~

My Nanny in all her wonderfulness.  Her hair like sparkly spun sugar, the gold filigree ring she wore and the hand mixer she used to whip meringue

Putting pennies on the railroad tracks before it was a bicycle trail

My Mama's big green sedan with bench seats and no heat

And the Strickland family

They were this hilarious and wonderful mix of sisters, aunts, mothers, daughters and one amazing old man we called Grumps that was my friends' Daddy.  Everyone spent their time with this family. They always had room for one more and I have absolutely no memory of anyone in that family ever being unkind to me.  Ever.

Miss Evelyn was my Girl Scout leader for what seemed like forever.  She also used to make these wickedly good butter cream cheese treats that I think are called chess squares.

Sherry is the youngest daughter of that family and one of my dearest childhood friends.  I loved to spend the weekend camping with her family at the beach.  We slept in a tent outside while her parents slept inside in their camper. Those weekends were the coolest ever and we would spend all day long on the sand with her boom box singing to heaven knows whatever song and dancing like loons.  The first s'more I ever tasted was in her backyard.

Wendy was Sherry's older sister and was just total coolness.  She never treated us like her little sister's bratty friends and was a blast to be with.  I don't actually remember spending time with my friend Sherry when Wendy wasn't there.  She was our choreographer, the ultra loud ring leader, the super cool high schooler when we were in middle school and the best possible entertainment on road trips.

My memories with their family are sharp, meaningful and happy.  My Mama is still very close to them and spends a lot of time in their company. They are still this hilarious mix of wonderful sisters, aunts, mothers and daughters.  They sadly lost Grumps a few years ago leaving only the constant of the girls.  Miss Evelyn, Sherry & Wendy and all the wonderful Roberts aunts.

Sweet Wendy went to heaven to be with her Dad last night.  Her condition was pronounced terminal just last week and it was a blessing that she was at home and her aunts, her Mom and her sister.  Leaving home for heaven is not tragic, yet my heart is still broken.  It is not right, not fair, not POSSIBLE that someone so young and so extraordinary can be gone from this life.

My heart hurt an awful lot last night as I selfishly processed what that loss meant to me (and to my sweet Mom) and as I grieved for the women she left behind who love her so endlessly.  The idea of someone else hurting always goes straight to the softest part of my heart.  Thinking of the loss her Mother has suffered threatens to undo me.  I won't even pretend that I can imagine what it feels like to make plans to bury your child.  That statement alone leaves me numb and swimming in tears.  Again.

Sadly when Wendy was admitted to the hospital she was still too new in her current job to have medical insurance or life insurance.  And because even critical care is a business, Miss Evelyn had to charge the {exorbitant} cost of the long distance ambulance transfer on her credit card.  This particular element of tragedy gave me purpose.

The negative energy I was bringing into my home and my own heart last night wasn't helping anyone and I wanted to do something. Anything to make it better.  So I am using my grief for good.  The Wendy Shaw Memorial Fund  launched today.  It is a non-profit donation site where friends and family can give as little or as much as they're able, to help offset the unexpected and overwhelming cost of Wendy's urgent medical care and funeral arrangements.

There will most likely never be a day at the beach with the Strickland family, but I can go back to it in my heart just as I do with memories of my Nanny and all of my other favorite things.  For every s'more they served me and every happy moment we shared, I honor them.  It won't help the hurt, but it can't hurt to help.

 If you are so inclined, even $10 would help their family.  You can help by donating here

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