• Michelle Lowe-Sterba

Sheri & Shell

Most of us have best friends. For some they change as life happens. Sometimes you out grow a friendship. Sometimes you loose them for other reasons. Sometimes you get robbed of a friendship. I was robbed of my best friend. I miss her. Every. Single. Day. What I don't want this post to do is diminish the friendships I have now. I have an amazing sister who will get a post all her own at some point. She is my best friend. I have some friends that I feel like I have known my whole life, I mean they are from high school and I am middle-aged so it feels like my whole life. Some I have had for 10+ years and some are a little newer. But every single one of them is important to me. I love you all so very much and could not do life without you. I am going to share about them in another post at another time. This one. This post. Its about my friendship I feel robbed of.

I am going to share thoughts and feelings about her that even after 14 years are still raw to me and it may feel a little chaotic and out of order as you read. What my hope is...I will get some healing by sharing. So please just bare with me.

I met Sheri in 7th grade. At church. I was not living in A town at the time, but I visited my dad every other weekend. So I was lucky to have friends when I moved there for 8th grade.

Sheri and I were a bit of opposites, yet had so much in common. That doesn't make sense...but it is what it is. :) She was soft spoken, but outgoing. Very bubbly but also my quiet place. Very athletic....I definitely was not! :) We were cheerleaders together. We both played volleyball...I warmed the bench and cheered her on because she was an amazing setter. That girls vertical jump was AH.MAZ.ING! but it all worked for us. We were in separable. There is a lot about High School I do not remember. Not because I didn't have fun. I did. But my friendships is what stands out. We didn't always participate in the same activities and that gave us space to make other friends. Great friends. Those great friends are for another post on another day.

Sheri and I....our friendship lasted separation in college. We exchanged letters and such all the time. (I still have them) In our adulthood we were roomies for a while until she married. She had babies. I had a baby. Still together all the time and spoke on the phone everyday. I struggle to know what I actually did for her. Her brother told me at her visitation I made her into the woman she became. I think he was just being kind and just trying to put into words what we meant to each other. But I know I was something and I gave her something, because she was LOYAL. And she loved me.

My daughter's 1st birthday was the last time I saw Sheri. Just a few short weeks later she was gone. What I know is she loved my girl as much as I loved her girls. Even after....I still adore her daughter (and her parents). But it has gotten harder to see them instead of easier. And I have avoided that pain by letting life get in the way of visiting. I miss them. At some point I hope I grow a pair and call and go visit again.

To say that Sheri shaped me into the woman I have become wouldn't be accurate. Influenced, yes. But I know there are things about me that I can hear her in my head saying "Shell, calm down." Having her in my life and then having her taken away the way she was, that changed me. I truly believe that our opposite personalities benefitted us both and made our friendship work. And her influence is what is missing...still. 14 years later. 14 years and I have not allowed anyone to fill that space. Quite frankly I don't know that anyone can. Those are mighty big shoes to fill. I kind of want them left empty.

Leaving them empty gives me a place to go to remember her. However, it has also been a dark place that has allowed me to ask why and never get an answer. It has taken me a very long time to not be angry at God. If I am honest, sometimes I still am. I do not pretend to know why he needed her when I quite clearly did and still do (and so many others did and still do) . I don't know why that gorgeous young girl had to loose her parents and sisters. I don't understand it. I will never understand it. But, I realize it might not be for me to understand. It just is.

The day she died I wasn't home. We had gone on a road trip. It was a time before social media. We didn't have Facebook where people shared every tragedy before people are notified. Thank God. Because I didn't hear until 11p.m. My dad called me. He had to listen to me screaming. It was more of a howl of a wounded animal that went on for hours. I hate drunk drivers. I hate people who are evil and seek out to do harm. Something big changed in me that day.

I can still see the teenage Sheri dancing around in her room singing "sweet dreams are made of these...." I can still hear her belting our a Cher song in the car on our way to a shopping day. I can hear us both finishing each others sentences or saying the same thing at the exact same time and laughing until our bellies hurt. I can hear all of it. I can also still hear her on the phone during our last call. Were rushing to get off the phone, one of us had a screaming kiddo. "love ya Shell" was the last thing she said. I love you Sheri.

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