An Update on Sharlie and Remembering Lexi

Sharlie and Lexi in Middle School

I have been sitting in a beautiful park here in Los Altos for the past hour, the empty screen of my laptop in front of me – pondering. Shoup Park is a spectacular oasis; the sun is warming my back, children are laughing as they run alongside the stream and everything is in Springtime bloom. It feels as if I’m seeing LIFE through new eyes. Hope springs eternal. It’s a cliché…but one that makes sense to me.

March 5th, 1995 – the date by which everything is measured in our family; everything of note happened either before or after. And each year on this date…tender feelings and tears. Seventeen years ago today I held my beautiful 14-year-old daughter, Lexi, in my arms as she took her last struggled breath and departed this existence. I’ve missed her every single day since and even though I’ve been blessed with the gift of her “presence” on several special occasions; I still desperately miss being able to see, hear and touch her.

This March 5th feels different. Tears? Certainly. Joyful, Grateful, Overwhelming tears. Sharlie gets stronger each day. Such an amazing insight she shared yesterday. On her daily walks around the hospital corridors, she has been avoiding a ramp that she felt would be too much of a challenge. For almost all her life ramps, stairs, inclines of any sort have given Sharlie pause. She has structured her life in a way that helps her avoid these obstacles; knowing she needs to walk on mostly level ground in order to maintain her oxygen saturation.

Yesterday, flanked by her husband Ryan and their son, Harrison, she walked down that ramp and then a few minutes later walked back up, amazed at the fact she wasn’t breathless at the top! Yes, she was a bit tired after her walk but after all, it’s been just over two weeks since her heart and lungs were replaced. Perfectly respectable to feel a bit worn out.

Walking on Sunshine

Another milestone yesterday…they ventured out, a brief respite – and Sharlie was able to feel the fresh air on her face. They only stayed outside a few precious moments, just long enough to deliver Harrison to me, but oh my…watching the three of them walking hand-in-hand took MY breath away. Sharlie was wearing the mask that will be her constant companion for the next few months, but her beautiful eyes were smiling.

Today – this particular March 5th of 2012 – is a day of celebration. Lexi, I celebrate your memory. Sharlie, I celebrate your courage. Sisters connected. Attached at the hip for fourteen short years. Now…attached at the heart. Being your mother has forever changed me. Thank you.

38 comments… add one
  • Dana Morrison

    As always, touched by your story and the courage and commitment of your family. Greatful to hear of your journey and bless you every step of the way.

  • Collette, thank you for sharing your beautiful heart and words with us. It is such an honor to know you and Sharlie. You continue to inspire me to greater levels of love and gratitude. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Sharlie, always.

  • Marylee LaBaw

    Collette,
    I’ve been following Sharlie’s remarkable, wonderful journey. The paragraph with “The date by which everything is measured in our family” really tugged at my heart strings. I too have ‘my date’, August 25, 1992 when I lost my 2 young children.

    Mother to mother, I thank you for this poignant statement and for openly allowing us to be a part of your life.
    Much love,
    Marylee

    • Dear Marylee –

      Oh my…two young children. I am so very sorry. We never fully recover, do we? Life goes on but everything is changed. My heart goes out to you. I hope you’ve found peace.

      Love,

      Collette

  • Dear Collette,
    My eyes are brimming with tears as I write this just after reading your post. A beautiful way to close out my birthday day. I feel your heart. Words, so tender, as only a mother could say. My heart strings have been pulled. Thank you. Thank you for your sweet comment this weekend. You made my day. I appreciate you. When I saw the picture of Sharlie ,OUTSIDE, walking with Ryan and Harrison, oh my, that’s what makes the world go round and what pure joy. I remember the lights flickering that day during convention while we were talking and we talked of Lexi. I will always treasure in my heart the words you spoke to me. Thank you, Collette. Tender, tender love and prayers to you tonight.
    Love,Diana

    • Thank you, Diana. As I’ve said before…I appreciate you. I know you understand my mother’s heart.

      With Love,

      Collette

  • Jo Vos

    Dear, dear Collette,
    I thank you so very much for who you are–and for sharing your precious words, and through them, your precious inner self. We could never ask for so much from you–you just give ….your love pouring forth and saturating all of us in its glow…reminding us of our own humanity and of our own losses and joys. I am so glad to know you. Much love, Jo

    • Sweet Jo –

      I have been wanting to write to you. You have left so many beautiful comments over the past few weeks…I’ve read them all. How fortunate I was to meet you (and our entire Sanoviv clan) last year. I do hope we’ll be able to enjoy some sort of reunion. Thank you so much for your constant love and support.

      Love,

      Collette

  • Monique Lamerand

    Collette,
    I have sat with tears in my eyes reading your blog. Thank God for the mighty way He is holding all of you as Sharlie gets better. Thank you for sharing your heart as you share your love for your daughters in this touching blog.
    X Monique

    • Thank you, Monique.

      Sometimes I wonder if I share too much…I find it very therapeutic. Then I realize it’s my way of testifying there is a Divine Purpose to this life. I am honored to bear witness of the miracles that abound.

      Love,

      Collette

  • Hello Collette,
    Thanks for that great update and story of rememberence! It really touches the heartstrings and plays a beautiful song!
    Sharlie will progress nicely, she is on the best nutritional products, ever!! When Richie began the products, after his heart transplant, it only took 5 days and he was more active, it took weeks to regain strength to walk far, but he did it and Sharlie will, too. She has the backing and encouragement of a loving family, great physicians and all of her extended USANA family!!!!
    Love you all,
    Martha

    • Sweet, sweet Martha –

      Today – as I sat by Sharlie’s bedside – I read through hundreds of e-mails that have been piling up. There, from Skip, was a message about YOU. Congratulations, Martha…you are Golden! I am so happy for you and want you to know how much your kindness over the years has meant to me. You are a remarkable woman.

      Love,

      Collette

  • Dyann Lyon

    Collette, As tears stream down my face I cheer you and your beautiful family on, as new memories are created on the day you will never forget. Love never dies and I was clearly reminded of that while reading your post.
    Thank you for sharing your heart and what Sharlie is experiencing for the first time, like walking up and down a ramp and not becoming breathless. That is so wonderful!
    Love to you and your precious family!
    Dyann

    • Sweet Dyann –

      You and Wild have been so supportive. I hope you know how much I appreciate you. Each time I read a message from you (or hear one on my voicemail) I smile. I’m so grateful to know you and count you as dear friends. I truly hope we can get together soon.

      Love,

      Collette

  • What an inspiration. i always check myself to be strong when I read your post but find myself crying with you. You have invited us into your family and are a constant reminder to enjoy every precious minute we are blessed with. Thank you. I want this to be the best “good news” story ever! We learned to love both Lexi and Sharlie through your love for them. God continue to bless you and your family.

    • Thank you, Mary. I do the same thing…bolster myself up so I won’t always be crying! But the fact is, life is hard and beautiful and terrifying and joyous and tears just seem to help us cope with it ALL, don’t you think?

      Thank you for reading and thank you for your prayers.

      Love,

      Collette

  • Mary Ann Farr

    What an absolutely beautiful post. Today you truly touched my heart. Thank you!

  • Thank you so much for sharing those beautiful thoughts. I can imagine Lexi is celebrating Sharlie’s strength and courage as well. “They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still.” – William Penn

    Blessings to you, Sharlie and your family.

    • What a beautiful quote, Blake. I appreciate you sharing it with me. Death is but crossing the world – and the brief separation will make the reunion that much more joyous. Thank you for your kind words.

      Warmly,

      Collette

  • Penelope Keeter

    As a mother, my heart breaks and rejoices with you. I’m inspired by your courage and obvious love for your children, but most of all your faith. I don’t “know” any of your family, yet I feel as if all of you have forever changed me for the better. Never stop believing in the miracle of hope, after all, “I can do ALL things through Him who strengthens me”.

    • Thank you, Penelope –

      I believe as mothers we “know” each other more than we think we do. I can feel your heart in your words. Thank you for reading and thank you for rejoicing with me!

      Love,

      Collette

  • Jennifer Henderson

    Collette, your words bring tears, and deep emotions. I cannot imagine the emotions flowing through you every day as you continue on your journey of being a mother to all of your amazing children. All with special talents, special gifts, special weaknesses, special blessings. I have been through some difficult things in the last few months, and being able to read your words of faith, courage, and hope inspire me every day. Even today, as I heard that a dear friend and coworker’s daughter would most likely be put on the lung transplant list soon, as her pulmonary hypertension has escalated to that critical point, I thought of you, walking the path that my dear friends must now walk with their daughter. And even more special that you have walked both directions possible on their journey — the one of watching their daughter join their Heavenly Father, and relying on faith the her “presence” to give them peace, and the one of watching their daughter recieve one of the greatest gifts possible from one human being to another. Both are difficult, painful, and unimaginable, and yet also, they are miracles in their own right. Thank you for being you — another miracle in your own right. 🙂

    • Sweet Jennifer –

      I sense we need to have a nice, long chat. You have always been there for me and I want you to know how much I appreciate that. If I can help in any way with your friend or her daughter – if they need someone to talk to or whatever – I would be honored to do so. We’re all in this together, aren’t we? Life, I mean.

      Thank you for being the wonderful person you are and thank you for always lifting me.

      Love,

      Collette

  • I’m grateful to USANA for many, many things…but most of all for introducing me to people like you, Colette. I treasure your “presence” in my life and celebrate Lexi and Sharlie with you today.

    • Thank you, Sharon. Your words are why I refer to everyone in USANA as a family. I’ve never felt that more strongly than during the past couple of weeks.

      I appreciate your sweet words.

      Love,

      Collette

  • I agree with eveyone! Hard to find the right words to express what we feel as we learn about your experiences. Seeing the sweetness in Lexi and comparing it to the sweetness that I have seen in Sharlie makes me feel like I know her more than I do. We have all come to love you and your family so much. Thank you for what you give to others!

    • Dear Gwen – my dear friend. How I wish we could pull on our Sanoviv sweats and just go to the Meditation Room for a chat!

      I hope all is well with you and yours. Thank you for following along on this journey. We have certainly felt the love and support of so many. Hope to see you soon!

      Love,

      Collette

  • Ashlee stock

    Wow Collette, what a great tribute to your beautiful daughters. Sharlie continues to amaze me, and your entire family’s strength and courage is remarkable. You should be so proud of the wonderful family you created- xoxo Ashlee

    • Thank you, Ashlee. I wish I could take credit for raising such wonderful children – who are now men and women. The fact is, they raised me! I have been blessed beyond measure and I’m very grateful.

      Your sweet words mean a great deal. I appreciate you following our journey.

      Love,

      Collette

  • WE SEEM TO GIVE HER BACK TO THEE DEAR GOD WHO GAVEST HER TO US.

    YET AS THOU DIDST NOT LOSE HER IN GIVING, SO WE HAVE NOT LOST HER IN HER RETURN.

    FOR LIFE IS ETERNAL; AND LOVE IS IMMORTAL; AND DEATH IS ONLY A HORIZON;

    AND A HORIZON IS NOTHING SAVE THE LIMIT OF OUR SIGHT….

  • Dear Collette,
    Although we have never had the joy of meeting face to face, I have followed you and your family for years through our USANA family. Your legacy for all your children is an abundant ever-reaching love. We all feel that love through your honest sharing of your heart in word and voice. For that we love you and your whole family, too.

    I have been writing a blog of my own regularly for over a year, now. My blog today is inspired by Sharlie’s courage, and by the courage of my own son, Kevin. Although I have not lost him here on earth, when he was yet a toddler he was forever changed through illness and toxicities that resulted in permanent brain injury. He is now 22 years old, and though I love him intensely, I will always wonder what “would have been”. I know it is not my place to question “why”, but to keep looking forward with gratitude for what we do have.

    Much love to you, to Sharlie, and to the whole Larsen family,
    Robin

  • Collette, you and Sharlie are such an inspiration. That is probably not how you see yourselves. You both go through life with such heart and dignity and courage. Thank you for sharing your story and your life and know that your Usana family… In the form of so many individuals like me, are with you in spirit. My heart is with you. Lee Gaylord

  • Dale Perkins

    Thoughts and prayers are with you and feeling great joy for this miracle.

  • Natalie Tabony

    I know this is an old post but on this special day for you and your family I was reading your journey this past year. I can’t help but cry when I think about, hear, or share your story – the love that surrounds you all and that you give is felt even through a virtual domain. I couldn’t agree more that family are connected by heart. You are true inspirations, the world needs more people like you x

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