Yesterday, a young woman named Sharla, aged 30 years, passed away in her sleep. I’d known her and her family since she was a child. She was very happily married, to a fine young man, Mike, that I came to know through my job, now with five children under the age of six. I know, how’d that happen? They had three girls, 5, 4, and 2 and just had twin boys born last Christmas Eve. They hadn’t planned their family that way, but she was exuberant about having babies and with the birth of the twins, happily and laughingly announced they had reached their family’s max and would have her tubes tied.
This year they had come through the difficult pregnancy and delivery of their twin boys and their photography business was just beginning to take off. They had come to meet and know many people during their short lives. Literally hundreds of people are responding to her passing with their condolences via social media, and I know there are some hundreds more that won’t be reaching out through the internet, but are also affected by her passing.
We don’t yet know how she died. An autopsy will reveal that soon enough. Plans are being made for a memorial service. Money is being raised for her burial and there will be many hands to handle the funeral protocols. So, all that’s left is to mourn.
My relationship to this family spans many years and wonderful associations, but the most important contact I currently have is with the little girls. I see them each week in our Sunday School, as I conduct our singing time. I know my heart will break when I see them next. My concern is so selfish. How will I be able to control myself and not break down in front of these sweet girls?
I am very grounded in my faith. Because I know God has a plan for us, I know that death is part of life. But, I grieve just like everyone else at being left behind, and, being a woman, can get emotional and teary-eyed for much lesser events in life, let alone the passing of a young mother. I have to believe that, with faith, I will be directed to do and say the appropriate things to touch these children in a positive way.
There’s one more side to this young woman’s life. I think she was about 20 when she decided to join the Army Reserves. Then the Iraq war began and she was called up to active duty. She served in Kuwait and supported the military push into Iraq. She endured harsh desert living conditions, even being housed in one of Saddam’s palaces without water or electricity. I remember seeing the dozens of photos she took while there and being in awe of this “little girl” who grew up to be in the Army. All the while she had an “enduring” sense of humor, coming home and finding the love of her life in her husband. Little did I know that a few short years later, one of my own sons would also join the Army and eventually become one of our fighting elite.
All our lives are tied together with fragile threads, meandering in and out, seemingly without purpose. Yet, here I sit today, reflecting on a life, which I would judge, was cut way too short. But, if I am a person of faith, I have to believe that all things happen for a purpose, and it is my own personal adventure in life to discover where they lead. My prayers are with all the family for peace and strength to make it through this difficult time and for direction and support into the future without this fine woman. All I know is, we’re all better for having known her and she leaves a legacy we all can admire.