January 28, 2012
There comes a time for all of us when life begins to take more than it provides.
It's a law as true as the sun rising and setting each day, as real as the air we breathe, an instinctual knowledge ingrained in our souls from the hour of our births.
It's left to us to make what we will of our time, to choose how brightly we'll allow these momentary flashes called life to burn.
Sherry Bird, of Craig, was taken from us far too soon.
She leaves behind her loving husband, Joe, daughters Kaitlen, 18, Rebekah, 14, and Christa, 13, as well as numerous people in Craig and Moffat County her light shined so brightly upon.
Sherry died at 6:20 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, at Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs.
She was 46.
Today, our hearts break for our departed wife, mother, and colleague.
Today, we mourn and miss our friend.
But, the sadness of this day doesn't have to be ours tomorrow. Our grief can be temporary should we remember Sherry the way she lived, should we remember the difficult years of her cancer also produced some of her finest hours.
While life will indeed take away, it can't take everything, not for those with hearts of the right constitution.
Sherry had such a heart.
The cancer she fought bravely for three years did nothing to upset faith in her Lord and Savior.
Sherry was comforted her destiny lay in a place of greater permanency than this temporal existence.
The cancer could neither dent nor deny her love for Joe, her husband of nearly 20 years, or the three daughters with a beauty and resiliency resembling their mother's.
Likewise, it couldn't hinder her love for the Craig and Moffat County community.
Faith, family, community.
For some, these are just words, vague principles, or abstract concepts. For Sherry, they were the core life revolved around.
She worked for six years as administrator for New Creation Church, where she, Joe and the children worshipped.
Her official title for the Craig Sea Sharks was treasurer, but she filled a variety of roles for the youth swimming organization, ensuring her children and many others had the very best while pursuing athletic excellence.
She was a substitute teacher for the Moffat County School District, "always wanting to be around her kids, always wanting to be where they were at."
Outside of formal titles and functions, she lived with a philosophy striving to be as Christ-like as she could, to treat everyone in this loving manner. It started with her family and ebbed to all she came across.
Her goal each day was first and foremost to know Christ better, to follow his example of loving all people, to avoid letting pettiness stand in the way of building and maintaining relationships with people in her community.
This relationship with community was not a one-way street.
If someone shows just a bit of care for Craig and Moffat County, this community will return that generosity many times over. So it has for the three years Sherry was sick, so it continues today for Joe and the girls.
The family thanks the community for the love and generosity they have received over the years, particularly now in their hour of sadness.
In her free time, Sherry enjoyed reading.
Naturally, the Bible was her favorite book, followed by any works of a spiritual, or faith-based nature. The mountain of boxes in the basement of the family's Craig home reinforces that she loved the printed word.
Sherry was born Nov. 9, 1965, the daughter of Ron Harris, of San Diego, and the late Kathleen Ontiveros. She also leaves behind a brother, Tyrone Canterino, and grandmother, Sarah Morlett, both of San Diego.
A job opportunity relocated her to Kansas City, Mo., in the early 1990s.
Through a local church, she became friends with Theresa, Joe's younger sister.
Sherry and Joe met Oct. 24, 1991, she a 26-year-old dark haired California girl transplanted to the Midwest, he a 27-year-old honorably discharged Air Force staff sergeant.
Their lives would include each other from that day forward.
Joe remembers Sherry as a gorgeous woman who immediately captured his heart and forever kept it.
Theresa remembers the instant chemistry and rapport between her brother and best friend. She knew, as did Sherry and Joe, the relationship was for keeps, believing God had intertwined their lives in His book.
Chemistry, love and God's plan resulted in a wedding a year later, and those strong emotions never faded. The joyous looks on their faces in wedding pictures were the same almost two decades later.
A job opportunity for Joe at Cook Chevrolet relocated the family eight years ago to Craig.
Joe, like Sherry, has given back to the community in a variety of ways, including his current service as a Craig City Council member.
Sherry, in her way, pushed Joe to succeed at work and outside of it, always beaming with pride of his successes, never letting him get discouraged in times of adversity, never allowing him to fail.
Sherry and Joe believed their Savior not only brought them together, but also guided them to Craig.
God's plan hasn't changed, and Joe and the children intend to remain here, their home, the commitment to the community just as strong today as it was back then.
A memorial service for Sherry is scheduled for 1 p.m. today, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, at The Journey at First Baptist, 1150 W. Ninth St. A reception will follow at New Creation Church. Memorial donations may be made to the Craig Sea Sharks in care of Grant Mortuary.
Sherry, Joe said, lives on in their daughters, the spirit in them so very reminiscent of their mother's.
One day, just a blink of an eye compared to eternity, the family will reunite, will once again be whole and with their Creator. Sherry will be there waiting, having already prepared their place, and this belief of togetherness once more is enough to overcome today's sadness.