Today there is a memorial service in California to celebrate the life of my friend, Sharon Nyssen. I know just what it will be like: hundreds of people gathered together to talk about how important she was in their lives and how much they loved her, and she loved them.
I am not physically there but I am remembering her, too.
This is one of the very few photos I have of the two of us together.
It was taken in 2002, shortly after we moved from CA to Colorado. See how my hand is wrapped up? I had to have surgery to remove a bone tumor and was nervously awaiting the results -- benign or malignant? Dennis was in between jobs and I was not covered by health insurance at the time. It was a crisis for sure, and Sharon was there to be my rock. Although she had four young children at home, she flew out to sit and panic, and pray, with me. (It ended up being benign).
And that was my friend Sharon.
The photo above shows her with the love of her life, Mark. They would have celebrated 31 years of marriage this year.
Sharon and I have been friends for about 19 years. Why so few photos? Well, we didn't all have cameras on our phones in those days. And when the camera was out, it was usually aimed at our little ones.
In the photo, above, we are having a high tea baby shower for Sharon, pregnant with her 4th child...
who came a few weeks later.
Here's her family, grown, just last year:
Sharon had a kind of a seizure on March 11 and was in a coma until May 9, when her body stopped breathing and she went to heaven.
It has been very hard for me to wrap my head around.
A world without Sharon in it?
This is the woman who I stood face to face with in 1995 -- she, uncomfortably pregnant and hiring me to fill in for her as HR Manager while on family leave. Me, on the other side of the fence -- with nothing to fill my days except someone else's job and waiting to adopt after so many pregnancy losses.
I remember us regarding each other and knowing we were meant to be friends despite our different life roles.
And we were. Close friends.
She rejoiced with us when we had Ben.
Her children became his friends, too.
Sharon taught me so much about motherhood, and friendship, and faith.
She taught me to admit when I'd made a mistake.
She modeled putting first things first, and letting less important things go.
She taught me how to pick blackberries.
And use a sewing machine.
I can still hear her telling me to hide all the moments of Ben's babyhood in my heart.
That is some of the best advice I've ever been given.
She made me laugh.
I remember our discussion of baby names; she told me she'd wanted to name a child Seth but whenever she said that name with her last name, Nyssen, it sounded like a lisp.
She encouraged my desire to write, and asked about it every time we talked.
She had 4 kids and lived several towns away. We kept in close touch but didn't get to see each other as often as we wanted to.
And then she was there to help me pack, and move away.
After that, including her visit in 2002, I think we saw each other 4 more times.
I very much regret not keeping in closer touch with Sharon these last few years.
When will I learn? Haven't I lost enough friends to realize how precious these relationships are?
My heart is broken.
I thank God for Sharon. She made the world a better place.