While Christmas always brings both laughter and tears, this year, this season, there are more tears than usual. Our family lost a dear one. My aunt left us to go home to God.. After battling cancer for several years she slipped away on the 23rd (or as my daughter calls it Christmas Adam).
Sherri was way to young to leave us and she left behind not just her brother, my dad, she left behind a daughter, a sister in law and several nieces and nephews, cousins and friends.. we are all grieving.
When I was five and my parents got married, I got awesome grandparents and a spectacular aunt in the bargain. Sherri was barely ten years older than me, a teenager with an exciting life of her own. But she always had time for me. I can remember visiting my grandparents and bringing my barbies along (I needed to do something) and Sherri would come out on the front porch and play with me, for hours if need be.
Or when she would babysit us, she would play "bartender" closing the pass through window between my parents kitchen and living room.. then we would knock and she would fling it open and snarl "what do you want?" we would order our drinks and Sherri would whip it up with Seven-Up and food coloring..
Simple things but the kind of memories I hold dear.
Sherri also gave me the most amazing gift, over and over again. Whenever I go home (to California) I spend most of my vacation going from family member to family member.. but Sherri, she would always call, check my schedule and then come to see me. You see, I was that important to her.
And of course she was never too busy for my kids, she taught them the importance of holding up the roof when going under a bridge (a family tradition I hadn't taught them). She went to amusement parks and family gatherings. She was the Steenburgen representative. And she brought her special joy to them. Teaching them another chapter in what family really is.
We all have a light that shines within us. Some of us are beacons, a call to the lost. Some are candles, a single light in the darkness. Some are like a flash, bright, stunning and blinding, gone in a moment all too soon. But Sherri, she was a firefly. Flickering and dancing into the gloaming, a magical moment, a joy. Gone too soon but leaving behind a happy, innocent memory. And like the firefly, Sherri could never live caged. To me Sherri will remain forever young, laughter and joy and forever missed.