"All’s to say, I am done. At least for the summer. I just emailed my oncologist that I was taking a summer break from chemo and was headed for the beach. I am sure when she reads it, she will faint. I know her. But she has to understand that quality of life means different things to different people. And Beloved and I have decided I am going to spend most of my summer throwing caution to the wind and getting as dark as I want to. I am going to have nieces and nephews and any and all of my children coming and going as much as they please. I am going to gorge on shrimp and corn-on-the-cob and wear out my margarita shaker."
With those words, Sherri made her plans. A week later, she met face-to-face with her oncologist and she confirmed what Sherri already knew ... there was nothing left to try anyway. All options had been exhausted. The time had come for Sherry to have her fantastic summer, all unhindered by chemo appointments and side effects. She knew the cancer would grow ... and it did ... but she still had a great summer. She never started treatment again.
If you haven't had the pleasure of meeting Sherri, you should do so right now. She belongs to the rite of storytellers and she has been regaling us with stories since September 2014. Her stories of Mama Jane delight our souls and her observations of life around her delight her soul. She's opened a world of quiet insight for someone who had a career as a nurse and ended her career as a patient.
I don't know Sherri personally. She and I have exchanged a few notes in the past few months, mostly on hospice care. She waited until she needed hospice to learn about it, while, I, voracious for information, have read so much on hospice long before I need it, I hope. (I do so in order to be better prepared when the time comes and to be able to help my children process that information when the time comes.)
Sherri found release in writing. Writing freed her to be ... simply be ... in a way that being around people didn't necessarily allow. I recognize that need as writing does the same for me.
Most of the time, when a writer of a health-related blog reaches the end of life, the blog simply stops. On March 22, 2016, Sherri wrote the following:
"Since we closed the door in Corning, things have disintegrated to the degree that, even though my heart breaks, I am unable to continue my blog. To give you an update of my status – I need my wheelchair full-time, I no longer have an appetite, I have to deal daily with my discomfort/pain and I am consistently falling. Hospice continues to come – three times a week now, and Beloved makes his trip from Corning weekly. I appreciate and have felt all the love and prayers coming my way over the past few weeks. I have loved blogging and it has been a source of therapy for me over the months as my illness has progressed. I have made so many new friends along the way and I have been blessed by so many. I wish those of you with similar circumstances peace and the best of luck as you continue your journey. It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye – this is my final blog.Love, Sherri"
Oh, how it hurt to read those words. It hurts to read them now.
I was in Philadelphia April 8 - 10 and a group of women and I discussed Sherri and the beautiful impact she had on our lives. Someone asked if anyone knew how she was doing and the answer was, "She's dying and is likely in her last stages." I had been in touch with her aunt in March, but I didn't have any additional information.
It was only a day later that I learned that Sherri had died on April 10, 2016, a full year after she stopped treatment. Perhaps she died during the time we, her distant friends, were talking about her ... I don't know. What I do know is that her passing has left a hole in the world that will never be filled. Sherri was Sherri and no one can replace her. While she called her husband Beloved, that name is how we think of her ... beloved to so many.
Until we meet again.