Saturday, August 3, 2013

Letter to Sheila

Dear Sheila,

I never imagined writing this letter to you. Just two short weeks ago right now, I was sitting next to you on your patio bench. We were talking about your unwelcome houseguest. We were talking about kids and vacations and Ragnar and inappropriate acts of dominatrices in New York. We talked of your disease - complex regional pain syndrome - which had rendered your leg unreliable and filled with pain. You told me of the challenges you were facing, of your sadness that was turning into resolve, of your acceptance and desire to educate others. When I left, I hugged you tightly and told you I loved you. I had no regrets when I left, other than the wish that the night could have gone on longer.

When your brother told me of your sudden passing on Monday night, I was shocked. I didn't understand how you could be dead. It didn't make sense that such a lovely, kind, funny, loving person could suddenly not be here anymore. The sparkle that was Sheila was snuffed out? How could that be?

I cried for your little girls who were now motherless. I cried for your husband Dave, who loved you and cherished you and laughed with you for too short of a time. A flash of him piggy-backing you down the stairs to the backyard nine days earlier (exactly two weeks! It's not possible!) went through my mind. The way you climbed on and the way he swiftly descended the stairs was casual - it seemed he had been doing that for you forever, even though I could reach back just a year in my mind to when I watched you running Ragnar with Dave. It didn't matter to him: running with you or carrying you, he loved you either way.

This week, I thought of all the little texts we sent this spring. I cannot listen to Christina Perri's Jar of Hearts without thinking of driving to East Canyon Reservoir during 2011 Ragnar. We were all singing along while we raced to get to the exchange before Van 1 runner's finished. I texted that memory to you. I still have the text on my phone. How is it possible that your text is here but you are not?

Your sisters - S1, S2, S4 and S5 - were so lucky to have you as their S3. It was so perfectly clear how much you loved your family and how much they loved you.

I stalked your Facebook page all week. I loved the memories that people posted there. It somehow was comforting knowing that other people knew and loved and missed you.

I tried to keep it together today at your funeral. I hugged Dave and told him I loved him. Seeing all all the pictures of you so suddenly was hard.  So much evidence of you and Dave doing what you loved - running, mountain biking, camping, tailgating - was heartbreaking. It just isn't fair.

The service was beautiful. So many kind words from Dave, your mom, stepfather, father-in-law, sister,, niece, nephew, coworkers and friends; everyone there shouldering one another to insist "I was Sheila's friend." "No, I was Sheila's friend." In fact, we were all your special friend. You made us all feel special.

I know you are in heaven, Sheila. I know that a spark like yours isn't snuffed out. It goes on, just somewhere else, for a time. I will look for you in pink shirts and songs on the radio and orange balloons and white tutus and legs 7 and 8 of Ragnar. I'm grateful that you let me think I was your special friend. I love you, Sheila. Thank you for sharing your light with the world.

Love, Becky


heidikins said...

Oh honey, I'm so sorry for your loss. Hugs.


Isabel said...

Becky, I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm thankful you have such great memories of Sheila and your time together. She sounds like an amazing person. I hope your heart can find the comfort you see. {hugs}