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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Luggage (08/15/05)

TITLE: Sheri's Journey
By Ann Grover


My friend Sheri left today.

Sheíd known for some time that she would be taking a journey. In fact, when she came home last April from Australia, she got the idea that she would be taking another trip very soon. For months, we heard about her Aussie penpal friend, the road trip to the Outback, Uluru, Sydney, the food, and the weather. Itís no wonder she began to plan for another trip right away.

Sheri had learned a lot about travelling when she was away last year. She was going to do things very differently this time. Take notes from me, she suggested. You donít need to take nearly as much as you think you do. Less is more. Think about essentials and versatility. Consider what you really need and then divide that in half. Maybe even in half again. Living out of luggage is no holiday. Itíll just be so much dirty laundry, anyway.

So, long before her departure, Sheri began to prepare.

We werenít so sure we wanted her to go again. We had missed her so much when she was gone to Australia for six weeks, and six weeks wasnít going to be long enough for her next trip, she said. Weíll miss your smile, we said. Come here and give me another hug right now, then, she said. So we did.

We made her a quilt to remind her of us. We wanted her to remember that we loved her. If she was lonely, she could remember the loving hands that stitched together the quilt. If she was cold, she could wrap herself in its warmth. Remember that we arenít just your friends, Sheri, remember that we are your family, we said. I remember, she said. Youíre the best family ever. I wish we were all going together.

She decided that she would like to try her hand at quilting, too. Just to fill in time before she left. So the stitchers and the quilters helped her cut squares in various shades of purple, Sheriís favourite colour. It helped the days go by, tediously slow days of anticipation and waiting.

Sheriís dayplanner filled up with pages and pages of scribbles, sticky notes all stuck out willy-nilly, a rainbow of tabs and bookmarks. Notes to self, notes to friends, quotes to remember, Bible verses, and words to songs. I think she recorded everything we ever said to her. Say it again, she would say, and she would write it down. What are you doing, Sheri? Writing a book? No, she said, I want to remember what you said, I want to take it with me when I go.

One night, just after Sheri came home from Australia, we talked until three in the morning about how families fail and how we need to make things right as best we can. So Sheri determined straightaway that she would do what she could to mend the relationships within her own family. And she did. Just a month ago, I watched Sheriís sister put together a new photo album, with pictures of smiling sisters and a smiling mom. Sheri showed us the photo album. This is the important stuff, she said. Make sure you have room for this.

Two weeks ago, Sheri sent me an anniversary card telling me what a treasure I was and that she was going to miss me. Well, Iím going to miss her, too.

My friend Sheri left today.

Her suitcase was empty, but her heart was full.

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Member Comments
Member Date
terri tiffany08/22/05
What a good story and I enjoyed the style you wrote it in.
Tammy Johnson08/25/05
So sorry for your grief as you lost your good friend. What a beautiful tribute to her! Thank you for sharing about this on the message board - I might not have put it all together that your friend passed away. Prayers to you.
Debra Brand08/25/05
Very lovely tribute to a life so full of life. God bless you and may He grant you comfort in your loss.
Julianne Jones08/26/05
This was a beautiful and heart-warming tribute to your friend. You've captured something of Sheri the woman and enabled us all to share in her life. Thank you and God Bless.
Shari Armstrong 08/30/05
A wonderful tribute -well written.