A few moments later, we got the word that Sally had passed away from a glioblastoma multiforme...the most aggressive brain tumor there is. It's the same tumor that has taken the lives of my Uncle Junior, both of Carol's husbands, Jon and Robert, an incredible 36 year old nephew of Carol's, and another dear friend of mine from our old ward. Six brain tumors. Six wonderful people. Oh, how I hate cancer.
Last year, on the morning that Sally was preparing to leave for the airport to say goodbye to her father, who was dying of cancer, she became quickly ill, was ambulanced to the hospital and it was discovered that Sally had a brain tumor. She had survived breast cancer ten years before and come through that ordeal with flying colors. Her father passed days later, while Sally was in the hospital. I'm still shaking my head in disbelief.
Sally is my wonderful friend, who joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, after almost twenty years of attending, holding several music callings and being a Visiting Teacher. Sally was from Oklahoma. Her father was a minister of another faith. Out of respect for him, she waited years to be baptized. Her baptism was attended by so many people that it was, literally, standing room only. It felt more like a sacrament meeting. What a joyful night that was!
It was only a year or so later, that Sally went through the rigorous task of becoming a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Watching General Conference was a thrill for the babes, as they searched for "Aunt Sally" during each session. Sally sang like an angel. Oh, her voice! When I got the word that Sally had passed away last night, Grace crawled into our bed next to me and we cried together. I cried because I will miss her, because her husband and son will miss her and everyone who knew her will grieve her loss. Doug was flossing and came into the bedroom. We told him the news. Doug took a deep breath and said, "And now, it's time to celebrate her life!" He was right. It is time. The past eleven months have been the time to grieve. Now, she is free of the pain and she can sing with the angels.
For the past twenty years, Sally, four other friends and myself have gotten together and known ourselves as "the lunch bunch". Sally was our glue. She really was. In the past year, Tina, on the left, has moved to Idaho, Jeana next to her, moved to Idaho, Louise is still in the old neighborhood, Sally has now left us, Lynne moved to the south end of the valley and I've moved but am only blocks away. We've all been through love, marriage, baptism, death of several family members, divorce (of kids), grandkids, job changes, health issues, you name it. It is hard to imagine us without Sally.
I would like to share a few of my favorite memories of Sally. My first will forever be this... our lunch bunch luncheon that I hosted in my home, shortly after we moved to Smithfield. Instead of going out, I wanted to have us gather there and as we sat around our table, Sally shared her experiences, as she was preparing and auditioning and interviewing (it's the most extensive "audition" you can imagine) for the choir. We were sitting around our table (and I remember that the table was delivered just hours before they arrived). Sally was telling her story and then just sang for us. She sang "Love at Home", unaccompanied. I had goosebumps and tears fell from my face, just at the sound of her voice. (As they are now, as I type this memory.) It was the most beautiful song I've ever heard sung.
She's so elegant! These were friends who visited her after a Mormon Tabernacle Choir performance. She's just so classy!
My second favorite memory of Sally was just two years ago, about this time. We'd just moved into our new home here in Logan. Sally only lives about ten blocks away. In the middle of our painting and remodeling, Grace was determined to audition for Bella Voce. I gave Sall a call and asked her if she could give Grace some pointers. Sally has been a voice coach/teacher for most of her adult life and shared her gift with hundreds of students through the years. Sally insisted, "Bring her over!" We stopped painting, cleaned up and raced over to Sally's home where she spent several hours over the next two weeks helping Grace learn a lifetime of music lessons in just that short time. I sat in for some of it and was in awe, watching Sally. It was fun to see Grace growing by the second. Sally's animation with her movements, her absolute joy in teaching...it was incredible to witness. I was moved to tears just at the sheer joy of watching her!
Her voice. My heart.
So giving. I can honestly say that I've never heard an ill word spoken about Sally.
Sally and her husband, Bill, were so kind to our kids. For several years, from the very first year that we had them, at Christmas, Sally and Bill would drop by during the holidays with gifts for the kids. Never something from the toy section of a department store. Always something unique and different and something that kept the kids entertained for hours.
Another favorite memory was of a time that we had lunch together, for hours, just the two of us, and she shared some truly personal experiences with me. Sally was always so positive and cheerful, but she'd had her share of trials in life, like everyone else. There was once and only once that she spoke of them to me. I was honored that she shared them with me and other than with Doug, I've never shared them with another.
Mostly, her laugh will be what I miss. She was feminine and delicate and gentle and graceful. SO, so graceful. She moved like she sang. She was positive and upbeat, no matter what the challenge. And such a great listener. Always asking questions. Always interested in others. Oh, I love this lady. She will be missed by anyone and everyone who knew her. She was gentle and kind to everyone.
This past few weeks have been hard. I chose not to go and see Sally. I could not do it. I said "goodbye" to Carol's husband, Robert, two years ago, less than hour before his death. When I think of Robert, I see him lying in that bed. I always quickly replace that memory with the many laughs we had together. He had the best laugh ever! But, it is a sad memory that is there first. I did not want my last memory of Sally to be of her in the hospital bed where she would leave this earth life. I wanted to remember her standing there at her grand piano, smiling and singing, "In my own little corner, In my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be!" with Grace. I want to remember her laughing as we joked about our age. I want to see her drinking Diet Coke across the table from me! Sally knew how much I loved her. She still does! This is how I will forever remember Sall.
Oh, how happy I am to know that she has "graduated" and is free of pain, that we have this wonderful Plan of Salvation, that we have a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to return to him. Because of this, even on the saddest days, life is good. Sing on, Sally. We will miss you.