What I Would Have Said

If you follow my Retired Introvert Facebook page, you know that I recently lost a good friend. It was sudden and unforeseen. And it’s hurt. A lot.

I went to her funeral at which a few people stood up and talked about her. They had nothing but great things to say, which wasn’t at all surprising. But there was something missing. There were hundreds of pictures posted at both the visitation and the funeral and all were pretty current. Her obituary didn’t include anything about her life prior to her last year at the University of Iowa. All of that is a great recap of her life, but I knew her before that.

No one asked me to speak at her funeral, which I never expected. I’m not sure I would have said yes if they’d asked. But I’ve had a few weeks to think about it and decided I need to fill in some of those missing pieces. Even if no one else hears it.

So, this is what I would have said if I’d been asked to speak at her funeral.

I met Sherri when I was 16 years old. We became friends after I moved to a new town right before my junior year in high school. We taught Sunday School together and spent a lot of time with each other, especially during our senior year.

You would describe Sherri as one of the popular girls but she never acted like it. She was pretty and perky and friendly to everyone. When we had a 50s day at school, she looked cute. I looked like Olive Oil. (Remember her? Popeye’s girlfriend?) But it didn’t matter.

Our senior year, we had an “open campus”, which meant we could leave school during the day. Many times we’d go to Sherri’s for lunch and just hang out. I think there were times when we even baked cookies!!

There were four of us that did the most together – me, Sherri, Doreen, and Janie. We had fun going to each others’ houses and making meals together. As we began thinking about college, Sherri and I decided to go to the University of Iowa together.

Right before our high school graduation, Sherri, Doreen, and I decided to apply for jobs at a Country Kitchen restaurant. They loved us there. We showed up when we were supposed to and worked hard. The regular customers loved us too.

Sherri’s and my parents were married on the exact same day. Who would know that day would forever be in our memories for another reason? We experienced a tornado that night. Sherri and I, as well as her brother Scott and their St. Bernard, took off in her Vega to get to her house. We never made it.

We pulled off the main road only to stop behind a small shopping center. The car rocked, my window was broken and when it was over, there was nothing but rubble in front of us. There was no way we could drive out of there.

We ended up walking to the nearest house, where we stayed for a while and watched the lady there freaking out. Phones were out and we couldn’t let anyone know where we were and that we were all right. Eventually, a couple of Sherri’s neighbors came by on motorcycles and took us each home.

That summer, we worked in the evenings and spent our days at the Camp Dodge swimming pool. We also went to our college orientation together, spending a night in the Memorial Union. It was a great time full of promise.

In the fall, we took off for the University of Iowa and roomed together with a girl from Sioux Falls. We went a little early so we could go through sorority rush. Every night, we would talk about our day, especially how everyone wanted to know about our tornado experience when they heard where we were from.

We ended up pledging to different sororities. Kind of sad but it was good for us to expand our circle of friends, even though we’d made tons of friends in our dorm.

Sherri and I worked at Country Kitchen again the summer after our freshman year and spent our days again at Camp Dodge. We also hung out with a couple of guy friends, who also worked at night so we didn’t get together sometimes until 10:00 or later. Sherri and I were so close they started calling us “Twins”.

Sherri was majoring in dental hygiene and I was in business so we didn’t see each other much during the school year. But we always had our summers.

After graduation and before Sherri married Ray, we celebrated our new jobs with a crab leg dinner at Red Lobster. It was exciting to see where our futures were heading.

I was one of Sherri’s bridesmaids and she was one of mine. In fact, Sherri and Ray set me up with my future husband. And after we got married, we lived just down the street from each other!! What could be more perfect?

Unfortunately, my marriage didn’t last. Sherri started having her boys. We didn’t have as much in common so we didn’t see each other as often. We did always, however, go to our class reunions together and shared birthday greetings.

In the last 15 years or so, we started connecting again. We’d meet for dinner or go to a movie together. We took a card-making class at Archivers. Even if we didn’t see each other often, we never ran out of things to talk about. She told me it was the best time of her life.

With COVID and everything, we hadn’t seen each other since our last class reunion in 2019. Sherri hosted a pre-reunion gathering at her house for me, Doreen and Janie. In some ways, it was better than the actual reunion.

Just days before her death, I got a Christmas card from her. It included a beautiful picture of Ray and her with their five grandchildren. She’d written a short note and on the side said – Get together in ’23!! Oh, how I wish we could do that.

I know Sherri had so many friends who loved her. But I hope she knew how much she meant to me and how important she was in my life. Her love and friendship came just when I needed them the most. It’s tough to let go of someone who was so full of life. She will be in my heart forever.

Now, some pictures that I would have shared.

Sherri, Doreen, Janie and me

I have to note here, that sadly, our friend Doreen passed away in the summer of 2020 from metastasized melanoma. So it’s now just Janie and me.

Freshman year at Iowa


Later years

Getting together with dorm friends at the end of our junior year
After rush before our junior year, meeting downtown
Another class reunion with Mary and Beth

22 thoughts on “What I Would Have Said”

  1. Oh Linda, I didn’t know you and Sheri were high school friends. Knew about the tornado but didn’t know you were together!
    I met Sheri in dental hygiene school at Iowa. She was a lovely person and I was shocked to read of her death. I’m sorry for your loss.

    1. Did I know you knew Sherri at Iowa? If so, I’d forgotten. She was definitely a lovely person and it’s still hard to believe she’s gone. Way too early.
      Thanks Suzy.

  2. Linda you did a great job of sharing such wonderful memories of Sherri! Since I left Ankeny in August after our high school graduation I didn’t know some of this…but it is evident you two were close friends. I still can’t believe she is gone…and my last conversation with her at our last reunion plays over and over in my mind. I have some great memories with Sherri from. Jr high and High school. I know you and Janie must be feeling a great void with both her and Doreen gone. May they rest in peace. Hugs!

    1. Thanks Lana. I know there are many like you with great memories of her. She was that kind of person. I’m so lucky we had those great times together.
      I know this hit Janie hard too and after losing Doreen, it will be strange going to our next reunion.

  3. She sounds like a great friend, Linda- I’m so sorry! This was a beautiful tribute- I hope you can share it with her husband and/or kids. I think it would mean a lot to them.

  4. You did a great job with this! I found it odd that high school wasn’t mentioned. I moved to her neighborhood when I started junior high. We spent a lot of time together since we lived so close. Every time I hear a song by Bread I am taken back to her bedroom listening to music and talking! I wish I had kept in touch with her. So happy that we are in touch!

    1. Didn’t you love her bedroom? We spent a lot of time there too. It was also easy to sneak out of!! 🤭
      I’m glad we’re in touch too. And since this happened, Robin and I have had dinner. My friends mean so much to me and I’m afraid I’m not a very good friend when it comes to keeping in touch.

  5. It is hard losing a close friend, so sorry for Sherri’s passing. You have such fun beautiful memories of your friendship, maybe you can share this with her children.

    1. I do wonder how much her kids know about this time of her life. At the visitation, one of her sons said my name had been mentioned several times over the last few days. But only her mom and siblings would naturally know how close we were back then.

  6. Linda I am sorry for the loss of your friend. This is a beautiful tribute to Sherri. Peace.

    1. Thanks Nola. I’m sure I could have said it much better but I was getting tired of trying to “get it just right”. I’ll never be able to say enough about how special she was.

    1. Thanks Janis. I’m not sure I could have said anything at her service. It would have been too hard. There was a week between her death and the service, and that killed me. I definitely needed closure, especially since it happened so quickly and without warning.

  7. Linda-I’m so sorry! What a lovely tribute! What wonderful memories you two made together. It is also a stark reminder how fragile life is. Thank you for sharing. I’m so grateful for OUR friendship. You have my sincere sympathy, dear friend!

    1. I’m not sure I did her justice but I had to do something. Yes, I have some great memories of our time together. And you’re right about that reminder. I can’t imagine my life without ANY of my friends so we need to do whatever it takes to make sure we don’t lose touch. Even our daily Wordle sharing means so much to me.

  8. This post is so similar to a struggle I’m currently experiencing.

    My former husband (we were married from 1986 until 2016) passed away in December. There was no funeral but there were many pictures posted as part of his obituary on the funeral home page. As I looked at them, my heart broke. He was 66 years old and only the past 7 years were reflected in those pictures.

    I had to assume his girlfriend had submitted the pictures since his extended family had no idea he had even passed away. It hurt me so much because there was so much more to his life that never got shared through the obituary and pictures.

    So I did something similar to what you’ve done here. I wrote an email to myself that told so much more of the story of his life. It helped me and my 2 kids (he wasn’t their biological father but he raised them) celebrate the life of the man we knew, not just his final 7 years.

    1. Oh Trudy, I feel so bad for you. I’m sure you still cared for him and to act like he had no life before 2016 seems odd. I don’t know why Sherri’s obit neglected to include even where she graduated from high school, but I have to think her kids had more to do with writing it than others in the family. For me, it’s not that big of a deal but I did notice it. I think it’s bigger for you and your kids. I’m thankful I have my blog to get all these feelings out. It definitely helps to write it down.

  9. Sad news to hear if Sheri’s passing.
    Great memories you had & thanks for sharing them.
    She was a very nice person. Friendly to everyone.

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