It is hard to believe that it has been three years this morning since Cheryl lost her battle with cancer. In so many ways, I still feel her with our family and I try to keep her spirit alive so that my children can know her, even those who were barely here when she went. I was blessed to have a mother-in-law who was so inspiring as an artist and supportive of my family, of our way of doing things and of who we all are as individuals. The dedication of my first novel is For Cherry -- who believed, because she was a huge part of encouraging me to pursue my dream of writing. It is one of the great sadnesses of my life that she was not here in this world to see its publication.
I have always been haunted by the photo (right) of Cheryl and Max at the piano in her living room at HodgePodge Lodge. It was a typical moment--Cherry rising early with the boys, brewing her chicory coffee and giving them her undivided attention, teaching them something. In this case, little Max how to play the piano. I know it is a trick of the camera, of catching her fingers in motion, this wave, and her expression is so Cheryl. But I remember looking at it as soon as it was taken and thinking, someday she will be gone, (because we all lived with her cancer as a constant since her untimely diagnosis in 1994.) I remember thinking, this picture will be precious, because Max might not remember her, but she will always be here, present, waving, here I am, I am with you, teaching you, guiding you, sitting right beside you.
To read more about her inspiration to me as a mother and a writer, you can read this essay, Dawn Chorus.
To read about the Buffalo music community mourning the passing of a woman who was a flute phenom and gifted, dedicated professor, read Cheryl's obituary in the Buffalo News.
To read an interview with Cheryl about her pursuit of the dream of her golden flute mentioned in the poem below, click here.