Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Luggage (08/15/05)
TITLE: Sheri's Journey
By Ann Grover
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She’d 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. It’s 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 don’t 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. It’ll just be so much dirty laundry, anyway.
So, long before her departure, Sheri began to prepare.
We weren’t 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 wasn’t going to be long enough for her next trip, she said. We’ll 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 aren’t just your friends, Sheri, remember that we are your family, we said. I remember, she said. You’re 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, Sheri’s favourite colour. It helped the days go by, tediously slow days of anticipation and waiting.
Sheri’s 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 Sheri’s 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, I’m going to miss her, too.
My friend Sheri left today.
Her suitcase was empty, but her heart was full.
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