Thank you for the gift of friendship: Goodbye, Christianne

This post is an extended version of an email I sent out today to the wonderful women of Second Saturdays. The notes I got back as replies made me think I should post this and give them the chance to add to it, if they want to.

First, the saddest thing I've had to type in a long time: The memorial service for Christianne Sharman is this Saturday, Jan. 30, 4pm at Millwood Presbyterian. 

Many of us knew and loved Chrissie. It is just SHITTY (there is no other word for it—good thing Mom isn’t on the Internet to watch my language) that she is gone. She was such a strong and beautiful woman who taught me things without even knowing she did.

I miss her.

She never knew that she herself was the inspiration for Second Saturdays, the “grownup friendship space” I’ve blogged about. I should have told her this story when I could.

I had been meeting all these great women in various circles and wishing I could get to know them better, but never really doing anything about it. I got to know Chrissie a bit thanks to suggesting her as a possible board member for what was then the Spokane PR Council (now the Spokane Regional MarComm Association).

(I don't know if she ever knew THAT, either--that I was the one who suggested her for the board--not sure she would have thanked me since she ended up being the treasurer, which is always a thankless job in any small all-volunteer board :D).

I was so impressed with her and wanted to get to know her better, but didn't have a way to do that because we were all so busy being board members when we met.

So I sent out that first email suggesting the idea that we need to schedule girlfriend time--not just with people who are our friends now, but with people who might be great friends if we had the time to get to know each other. I went through my contact list and picked lots of wonderful women I encountered in professional circles.

We have so few playgrounds in our adult lives that it's tough to get to know someone at the swingset or teeter-totter level. Hence that first gathering at Rockwood Bakery years ago.

I don't even know how many years ago now, but others who were there at the beginning think we may have started in 1999. Over ten years? I believe it. 

At the same time, thinking about how quickly those years have flown, I realize all over again how easy it is to lose track of time, to forget to say the things you need to say and to see your friends because calendars get full.

Why didn’t I just call her up and see if she wanted to have coffee? Well, I was shy. (Insert maniacal laughter here from people who know me.) But I was.

She was so strong, and so very clear about her boundaries. That had already come through in our board meetings, where she was polite and firm about what she would and would not take on as a board member. If she declined the coffee I would never know if she didn’t have time, or wasn’t really interested in getting to know me beyond our contact as board members. She would be too kind to hurt my feelings.

It sounds so funny to me now, all these years later after having the privilege of her friendship. But back then it was kind of like giving a party in high school to which you invite the guy or girl you secretly like.

You hope he/she won’t end up hooking up with your best friend at the party. You hope you’ll have a long and meaningful talk in somewhat dim lighting, planting the seeds for something that blossoms over time. Having other people around provides a social buffer so you’re not left hanging while your heart gets broken.

Okay, now I’m really taking dramatic license. But I do remember feeling slightly (or more than slightly) intimidated and at the same time hopeful that I was about to make a new and fantastic friend in Christianne, along with all the other great women of Second Saturdays.

It worked. We did form those friendships. No dim lighting, just great coffee and pastries and conversation. And Chrissie, with her beautiful long hair, scarves draped carelessly around her neck in that effortless way that magazine stylists strive to imitate, such a style and strength and kindness, all that warmth and encouragement, funny, wry insights and indignation about crazy/bad politics and focused listening so you knew she really heard what you said. 

I still hear her voice.

Thank you, Chrissie, for all your gifts to me as your friend.

11 comments :

  1. I didn't know her well enough to leave a tribute comment, but from what I do know, I know that this post is a great tribute.

    I love you, so much.

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  2. Barb, thanks for posting this. And you're right -- it is shitty. No doubt. I always felt like I wanted to get to know Christianne better, and at least we made time for a couple of visits in the past year, but I had no idea what she was dealing with, and therefore no sense of urgency amid the busyness of life. Which is sad, but also all too real. I'm so glad to hear that she was the inspiration for Second Saturdays, because now the group will be a lasting tribute to her.

    So... Thanks to Christianne for being the inspiration -- for Second Saturdays and so many other things -- and thanks to you for the follow-through and the work to make it happen month after month, and thanks to everyone who has ever shown up at our community table. A wonderful thing has grown from your desire to connect, and it's something that we all need.

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  3. I, also, feel I didn't know Christianne very well. However, the few times we were both at the same Second Saturdays, I was always drawn to her. Christianne radiated not only physical beauty, but tremendous grace, intelligence and thoughtfulness. And yes, I remember her voice, too. What a loss! Thank you Barb for the moving tribute, historical context and the space to share our remembrances.

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  4. Barb, what a beautiful tribute to Christianne. Thank you for the opportunity to honor our friend on your blog.
    Words cannot express how I feel losing Christianne -- she was such a generous, gentle soul. I remember how supportive Christianne was during my dark night of the soul after my father suffered several dibilitating strokes. She understood what I was going through because she'd cared for her mother. And when my Dad passed away, Christianne was there to comfort me as I grieved.
    She was so compassionate, strong, loving and joyous.
    I'm especially grateful for the time we had together during her final months. When we visited, I made sure to tell her -- and show her -- how much I cared for her. How much I valued HER and our friendship. How much she was LOVED.
    Thank you Christianne, for blessing us with your precious presence.

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  5. A tribute from Becky and Simon at Cravens Coffee: http://www.cravenscoffee.com/blog/?p=173

    The obituary her family wrote, which was on the program at her memorial service: http://www.spokesmanreview.com/obits/?ID=78034

    Online guest book at legacy.com, open for remarks until 2/22/10: http://www.legacy.com/gb2/default.aspx?bookid=11029614815209 (The site lets you donate flowers, but the family asks that you donate to the Linda and Christianne Sharman Memorial Music Fund at Millwood Presbyterian Church. You can give online: http://www.millwoodpc.org/Give/tabid/2400/Default.aspx

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  6. If you weren't there, Christianne's beauty FILLED the Millwood Pres Church yesterday, with her glowing face shining out on all of us. Her uncle Don Hamilton (and others, for sure) made a stunning video as a tribute, ending with her riding away on a lovely horse. A wonderful way to remember a woman who loved nature, was an outstanding professional, loved to work out, to travel and study language (we met once a week at her office for a Spanish circle), wine (with manchego cheese from Spain, in particular), her friends and family, and most of all her beloved Tom whose words made us all grab for Kleenex. AdiĆ³s amiga. Buen viaje.

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  7. A reflection by Pastor Craig Goodwin of Millwood Presbyterian: http://www.downtoearthnw.com/blogs/year-plenty/2010/jan/31/what-would-you-do-if-you-had-one-year-live-sunday-reflection/

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  8. The video shown at Chrissy's memorial service: http://hamiltonstudio.com/Chrissy.mov.

    From Clint Janson at Hamilton Studio:
    This year I will be raising money for the Lance Armstrong, LiveSTRONG foundation by running several half marathons and a full marathon in November. I will be running the full Seattle Marathon in memory of Chrissy Sharman, wearing her name on my race number. Lorna was able to tell Chrissy about my plan a few weeks before she passed away and she was pleased. If you would like to donate to the LiveSTRONG cancer research foundation in memory of Chrissy it would be much appreciated. Just click on the link below.

    http://www.livestrong.org/teamls2010/clintseattle

    ReplyDelete
  9. Barb,

    Thank you for writing this and tweeting it. It has lovingly pushed me to remember to make time for the adult girl thing.

    Even if it is just once a month, that is better than nothing.

    Thank you for being open and asking us to share with you as I could feel your heart all the way down here in Texas.

    May we all inspire someone in our lives like Chissy. AND may we all talk opening with each other like YOU!

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  10. A post in Christianne's honor (although she isn't named) by her pastor Craig Goodwin on his Year of Plenty blog: http://www.yearofplenty.org/2010/01/what-would-you-do-if-you-had-one-year-to-live-a-sunday-reflection.html

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  11. Today on Twitter someone mentioned running across a picture of a friend from college that made her stop to remember someone who is gone now. I thanked her for that reminder to stop and think about the people we've lost.

    That brought me back to this post, among others I've written about people who have touched my life and who are gone now.

    In the past year three of my uncles died along with my dad. They were old, they had lived long and successful lives, but it still hurt to lose them.

    I can still hear their voices and I hear Christianne, who had a wonderful voice.

    I want to stop every so often to remember. For those of us who did a lot of growing up before the Internet we don't have a thousand gigabytes of sound and picture available just a click away. I have no recordings whatsoever of my uncles' voices. I have to rely on my memory and that will fade with time. I do have a DVD of my dad thanks to brother Jim, who interviewed Dad for a story about his career as a World War II bomber pilot, but I haven't watched it since he died last November. I need to do that.

    So here's to Uncle Russ, who looked so much like my dad, his older brother.

    Here's to Uncle Wayne, with the hearty laugh, the teasing sense of humor, and the loud Hawaiian shirts.

    Here's to Uncle Bud, who had my birthday--or I suppose I had his birthday since he was born long before I was!

    And here's to my dad.

    ReplyDelete

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