She may not have been Famous, but she was well-educated and very well-loved throughout her short life. When asked, in her dying days, what was the one thing that she wished she had done differently, she bravely admitted that she wished that she had been kinder to people along the way. I thought that was a very profound statement. Her friend, who was officiating the celebration of life yesterday, went on to mention how in her last weeks and days, *Sherry gained a whole new appreciation for the little things that people said/did for her and that she had never really realized before how meaningful the smallest of exchanges were. Hmmm…I will admit that for those of us who were listening to the Ceremony, it certainly gave some pause for thought.
Sherry’s celebration of life is the fourth of its kind that I have attended in the past year. A bit sobering, without a doubt. What was different this time, however, was that the person knew that they were dying from a terminal illness (first diagnosed this past November), and though in an otherwise uncontrollable situation, decided to take control of something and plan their own funeral. Once again, how extraordinarily brave to be faced with the end of one’s life at age 50, and to take the bull by its horns, so to speak, and put together your own slideshow, an outline of your service and to choose your final resting place. I am not sure that I would have the courage to do the same, but as an old friend/neighbour of Sherry’s and as an attendee, I will tell you that knowing that she had chosen her very own music, the photographs, the officiant, the person to do her eulogy, the type of flowers, etc., was very powerful and moving in so many ways. I felt privileged to be there as she reflected on her life through the medium of close family and friends, and I would venture to guess that those of us in attendance all felt Sherry’s presence in one way or another–I mean, how could you not have knowing that she had a hand in it all?
As Sherry’s service came to a close with Sinatra’s, “Fly Me to the Moon”, an occasion that seemed so sad in ways also seemed joyful in the sense that she chose to leave her final mark in this world with Frank’s upbeat lyrics and the last line of the song ringing out with “I love you.” Her song choice actually left me smiling. Beyond the aforementioned, it was no coincidence that she chose the song for when her father passed twenty-one years earlier, from the same disease as her, she bought a star and named it after him as a tribute; hence the significance of, “fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars”. I felt it was a more than fitting ending since my belief is that she and her father have now been reunited to ‘live’ out the rest of their unencumbered days together in much a happier, more peaceful place.
Once her ashes were put to rest and tears were once again shed, the laughter, the love and the diversity of people who filled the refreshment room was clearly a reflection of Sherry’s full and meaningful life. In another unique twist to things, at her request, we all raised a glass of carefully chosen champagne while her mom spoke a few words and thanked everyone for coming. Indeed, it turned out to be quite a celebration–exactly what Sherry had wanted. If she had come to terms with the fact this part of her journey was over and she was grateful for her time here, as was shared with us yesterday, then we, too, would have to accept it as well. Maybe her choice to leave us with such moments of clarity and joy was her final act of kindness? I would like to think so….
Cheers and rest well my dear, old friend!!
*Name has been changed out of respect for the family.