Sister Death

Death is a funny thing. This morning when I woke up, I groggily wandered into my living room, sat down with a cup of tea, made a few phone calls, made my list of errands for the day, and then found myself face to face with sister death. That most unwelcome guest, the one who bends to no one’s schedules, concerns, or desires.  (Written the morning of September 7, 2011)

Almost immediately following the initial shock, I found myself aboard a flight destined for home. As I flew, I listened intermittently to the music streaming through the headphones of my ipod, when suddenly a particular song’s lyrics called for my attention. As I rewound and replayed the music, the following is what I heard:

“Come with me. Where chains will never bind you. All your grief at last, at last behind you. Lord, in Heaven, look down on her in mercy. Forgive her all her trespasses and take her to your glory. Take her hand and lead her to salvation. Take her love for love is everlasting. And remember the truth that once was spoken: ‘to love another person is to see the face of God.’” -Les Miserables

I believe that Shelli not only saw the face of God in each of those she loved so dearly, but I believe that she knew this truth so well, that she humbly allowed us to love her, in her health as well as her illness, allowing each of us to discover the face of God in her. She has given us a greater gift than she may ever know. Dear Shelli, we will miss you dearly, especially those blessed to know you well. May you rest now eternally in the peace and joy of God’s presence. Every tear wiped away, no more pain or sorrow (Rev 21:4). We love you.

(Pictured Above: Shelli in all her glory basking in the sun!)

Please find below the beautiful obituary my mom wrote for her dearest friend:

Shelli (Burchfield) DeSimone
walked into the arms for our Heavenly Father as her family surrounded her with their overwhelming love on Sept. 7, 2011. Shelli is survived by the light of her life, her son, Drew, along with her beloved parents, Ed and Barbara (Hepner) Burchfield. Ed and Barb brought Shelli’s special light into this world on Feb. 16, 1964. Shelli is also survived by her sister, Missy (Walton) and her brother, Shaun (Misty). Shelli truly adored her family and they have provided her insurmountable love and devoted care throughout her battle. Shelli’s life was blessed by her Grandma Hepner, her loving aunts, uncles and cousins, and her special nieces and nephews, Kaci, Kali and Kade Walton and Taylor, Teal and Trey Burchfield. Shelli is also survived by her father-in-law, Tom, and the DeSimone family.

Shelli’s vast love extended beyond her family to her Florida and Key Bank co-workers and her numerous faithful and loving friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, Jerry; her grandparents, Frank Hepner and Gene and Gladys Burchfield; and her uncle, Tom Hepner. She has also joined her very dear aunt, Sandy (Fawcett) in eternity with Jesus. The enduring support of her family and friends provided Shelli the strength to fight the demon, cancer, with dignity and grace. And, although her time on earth was far too brief, we are truly grateful that Shelli has found her peace. We will, indeed, see her beautiful warm smile, feel her gentle touch, and enjoy her infectious laugh once again in God’s Kingdom.

Family and friends are invited to share their love and support to Drew, Ed, Barb and her loving family on Friday, Sept. 9 from 5-8 p.m. at Sweeney-Dodds Funeral Home. Shelli truly had a passion for living. We will celebrate her life on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at 11 a.m. at Sweeney-Dodds Funeral Home. If you are able, please pay tribute to her courageous battle against breast cancer and wear some form of pink. Following the Celebration, Shelli will be interred alongside her husband at Westview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Crossroads Hospice, 3743 Boettler Oaks Dr., Green, OH 44685.

Amazing is it not, the way death calls into focus the truths that were so near to us while one was alive; and yet, impossible to see until they were gone. Life is such a fragile gift. May we spend everyday loving passionately and completely those we are blessed to know (family, friend, and stranger alike) and in gratitude to the one who has blessed us with such wondrous gifts.

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