Cancer doesn’t discriminate. When I knew Sheri she was an organic-only vegetarian and brilliant tie-die artist. With her thin frame, tan skin and wild brown hair, she always looked as if she’d just come from the beach. Trailing behind or trotting ahead was her son who looked exactly like her except with the body of a burly, two-year-old. He was one of the sweetest boys we’d ever known, Teo. In the afternoons Sheri and Teo were often perched in their window above our home in Los Feliz, their faces aglow with sunset. Teo would call down to us, especially to TC, asking how his day was and did he want to see his new rock, and how his day was and did he want to see his new rock, and how his day was. It was wonderful to arrive home and hear a toddler call down to us. I loved seeing him wander around the yards naked but for a hemp necklace. When we left L.A. we kept up with Sheri and Teo through the friend who brought us together in the first place. They were always doing well. Then came the first story of Sheri’s cervical cancer and how she ignored it then fought it. She was in my prayers from the moment I heard. A while later, another story came, and then the next. She had a website set-up by Caringbridge, designed specifically for people affected by cancer, so that their loved ones can check-in and read what the person needs without having to ask. It’s an invaluable tool. (Sort of what I’d had in mind when I kept a blog for our second adoption and there were just too many people to update). Through the website and our friend we heard all about Sheri and beautiful Teo who’d grown into an extraordinary adolescent boy. It was from these stories that the name Teo began to resonate for us. She was happy to learn of her son’s namesake. Sheri passed away August 23 in the early morning with loved ones at her side. And even though she was finally at peace and most importantly free of pain, it seemed so horribly unfair. She was young and vibrant, loving and kind, generous and full of purpose, with so much more vital life to live. A mother taken from her son. A friend taken from the earth.
Today is John Lennon’s birthday.
Just this morning another powerful sister fell. Gloria. Like Sheri, she was my age. She leaves behind two young daughters and her best friend/husband. Her fans are left with the art she feverishly created in the span of her eclectic career – jewelry, photography, sculptures, paintings, and more. I’d hoped she’d be back at the Buckman Show & Sell this year. There was so much more art left for her to make.
I wasn’t in close contact with either of these women yet they both had a big impact on my life. Sheri for the way she mothered Teo with utter freedom, encouragement and support, and for the way she made it look easy even though she was a single mom. Gloria for her immense passion, which not even death can suppress, and for her dedication to her family, that they live a life full of creative expression. Her passion will burn in for them forever in spite of this unbearable loss.
I sit here trying to take it all in, but I can’t. I think of the friend who’s twenty-four year old son was killed in the Peace Corp, the lock of hair he wears around his neck, and how it felt like my heart was struck by lightening when he told me. My grandmother who’s son was murdered at twenty-one and how I never got to say goodbye. This senseless war. And all the other agonizing losses that have brushed by me. Why must we be taken from one another? Why?