Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sheri & Maren

One week after the students at Jonathan Law were devastated, they were moving. 

I was watching them at the Katzmartsic Invitational, a track-and-field event for Milford and Stratford schools held in the name and spirit of Sherri Katzmartsic. She was a Law graduate and star swimmer, sprinter and (school record) long jumper while living with cystic fibrosis and diabetes. Given how difficult it is to walk and breathe with cystic fibrosis, you can understand the ribbon (above) her mother posted on Sheri's memorial facebook page

Sherri led a full and generous life while knowing the life expectancy of someone with CF is age 37. She died in 2009 at age 35 of bile duct cancer. Given the inspirational effect she had on her teammates, and indeed most people who knew her, the Law invitational track meet in her honor began the next year. 

Purple is the color of the fight against cystic fibrosis, and many family members wear purple in honor of their loved ones who suffer with the disease, or in their memory. They also raise money and awareness of the disease, for research into a cure. 

Because there has to be some good to come out of suffering. Not to take away the pain, but to give it purpose. 

Jonathan Law Girls Track & Field Team
 2014 Katzmartsic Invitational Champs 
At this year's 5th annual Katzmartsic meet, both the Law girls and boys track teams wore purple, as did many of their opponents (and the Law baseball and softball teams)  to express their pain and loss over their classmate Maren Sanchez. 

This was their first meet since Maren died, and I can't imagine anyone in the football stadium who was unmoved. It's powerful, watching them mourn in their teen kind of way, having moments of silence, and a quiet kind of steadiness, but then breaking into a sprint, or a smile. Both teams competed with heart and pride, and the girls won the six-team meet.

It must have felt like a breeze compared to the last time they were on that field. On Monday night, the school administrators and students put together a memorial service that was incredibly moving. Her family was there, and said they were appreciative, which both showed a lot of guts and grace. Though the mayor and governor and the superintendent and the state commissioner were in attendance and most spoke with great feeling, it was the speakers who knew Maren well who broke your heart.

from Hartford Courant
The principal, class advisor, her fellow musicians, her closest friends. They too had this balance of grieving and smiling. Moving through the tears. Then the floodlights cut off and in the dark we heard Maren's singing "Home." It was unbearably bittersweet, and tears poured down a lot of faces. 

Then we were moving, to our cars, to get ready for school, to tuck our kids in. The voices were quiet in the overflowing parking lots, but there were a lot of smiles. People came up to me who I usually just nodded to, and we talked. There's an openness in grief, a shared feeling of vulnerability that makes it hard not to reach out. 

I think the spirit of Maren, like the spirit of Sheri, will do much good in the world, and long outlast their lives. They both led an exceptional life, and inspire me. Inspire many. 

I also think that this Mother's Day in Milford, women who have their kids around to cuddle will hug them extra tight. 

The kids themselves will keep moving, because they're kids and can't stop, and because it makes them feel better. The teens at Law will have their prom, their graduation, all filled with sorrow and smiles. They'll move on but stay connected, maybe more than usual, and take what they've learned from all this and make it last.

That the meaning and value of your life can be found in the good you leave behind. 

Love, Lisa


  1. Beautiful words as always Lisa.

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