I met Cheryl Rice in my Sophomore year at the University of Delaware. I had just started my first course in Computer Science, my newly found major. We met in a computer lab and became instant friends. Cheryl was outspoken, determined and incredibly intelligent. After our first class together, we decided to sign up for all of our remaining major classes together for the next 3 years. Over the past 10 years Alison & I have had the honor of calling Cheryl one of our closest friends.
During college I remember going to Cheryl’s dorm on a weekly basis to work on homework assignments and projects together. We almost always tried to pair up whenever a project was assigned. I have to admit that I don’t know if I would have made it through college without her.
I also remember what a fun time Alison & I had when we went to San Francisco with Cheryl & Tricia in 2004 to see them get married. Unfortunately, by the time we got out to San Francisco, they were no longer performing same sex marriages but we still had a wonderful adventure. I will forever remember the picture of Cheryl behind bars with her cell mate Tricia in Alcatraz.
I greatly miss her and am heart broken by the fact that my daughter Haley will not get to spend more time with her Aunt Cheryl. Haley will however, get to hear about her Aunt Cheryl, especially when we go to Disney and each year when we pull out the snow globe ornament Cheryl gave us. I also plan on explaining to Haley when she starts driving the importance of putting on your parking break while near a body of water.
Cheryl’s death may seem sudden to most of us, including myself, however after looking back over the past 2 1/2 years, I realize it was not so sudden. The death of Tricia took so much out of Cheryl which is completely understandable given their deep connection. There are so many people who helped ease her pain during these past few years and to them I say Thank you.
I’d like to read a poem that Cheryl sent to me a few months back for the 2nd anniversary of Tricia’s death that I feel is helping me deal with her loss. It is a poem about the Summer Solstice.
Today the sun crosses over the equator heralding the arrival of the autumnal equinox – the time when the northern and southern hemisphere receive the same amount of sunlight and day and night are of equal length. As the long summer days are transformed into the shorter days nature slows down. It is a time of harvest, a time for gratefully accepting and graciously letting go of that which is no longer needed.
The equinox invites us to consider what we have harvested in our lives and how we have been transformed by our experiences. Nature serves as a constant reminder that transformation and change are necessary for new growth and expansion. A tree releases its leaves in order for the next cycle to begin. Some animal shed the outer layers of their skin – a yielding must occur for the new to emerge.
Transformation is often precipitated by a loss, a breakdown of existing structures or illness and we can easily become fearful or erroneously presume that something is not as it should be. Remembering that all things have their season we are inspired by nature’s example to accept the countless blessings and gifts every season of life offers us.
Before Tricia passed, she and Cheryl decided they would meet in the far left corner of heaven and that Tricia would be wearing a big hat. Cheryl – we expect you and Tricia to be waiting for us in that same far left corner!