Thank you for such sweet comments and for prayers for us as we grieve the loss of a wonderful friend, Cheryl Marchant. As God always does, He has shown Himself in amazing ways and has gone before and carried this precious family through these past difficult days. Cheryl’s memorial service was yesterday, and she would have loved it! So many, many people – most of the people she loved the most – were there visiting, sharing “Cheryl-stories,” hugging, laughing and crying, reuniting with old friends, and making new friends. All were joined heart to heart because of our love of one special woman… It was a lovely celebration that was fitting for our full-of-life friend.
We took tons of pictures from Cheryl’s family and friends, and displayed them on tables during the visitation time. It was so fun to watch people find themselves in the pictures and smile as they relived the memories portrayed. We knew that we wanted the pictures to be scattered on the tables, but we also didn’t want hundreds of people picking them up (especially the ones from Cheryl’s childhood), so her daughter, Stacy, came up with the bright idea of placing the pics on the tables, then covering the tables with clear plastic cloth. It worked like a charm! We used Cheryl’s mother’s beautiful white table cloths over the standard white round cloths, then put the pictures on top. Each table had a simple tall vase with rosebuds and greenery, and some pictures on easels as its focal point.
I had the sweetest and hardest privilege yesterday… and did something that was done ONLY in the strength of the Lord. I was blessed to speak Cheryl’s eulogy. Considering how she was always trying to get me “speaking gigs” – it couldn’t have been more appropriate. haha. I can’t help but think that she got a huge kick out of that. 😉 Because I processed my personal loss through writing this eulogy, and because SmellingCoffee is sometimes my online journal, I’m posting what the Lord gave me to deliver in honor of Cheryl. It’s a good reminder to me that this life is but a breath… And like Cheryl, I want to live it to the glory of God and as a blessing to others.
With much love to each of you dear readers and friends~
Today, we gather to celebrate the life of our dearly loved Cheryl Ann Thomas Marchant. Cheryl had an impact on literally countless lives. All of us who love Cheryl are happy for her and for the health and peace she is experiencing today, but we deeply grieve her absence and the huge hole left in our hearts without her.
Her family wanted me to express their deep gratitude to each of you. For the last 19 years, the outpouring of your love has sustained their family through many trying times. There are not enough thank you notes in the world to express the peace that you, Cheryl’s church and community family, have given to Stacy, Brett, and Bill as you have stepped in so many times and filled rolls that were too big for the immediate family to fill. Cheryl had a huge family in Christ and community and her immediately family’s lives have been enriched by you. They thank you deeply for all you have done, and for all you will continue to do in the days to come. You have blessed this family, and you have blessed Cheryl.
And Cheryl has blessed us. Each one of us could stand here and share how our lives have been blessed, affected, or changed by Cheryl Marchant. She had a distinct personality and passion for living, and was what Mr. Fred Rogers would call an extraordinary ordinary person.
In thinking about Cheryl and her life, six adjectives come to mind. One for each letter in her name.
C – Compassionate toward everyone. Cheryl was merciful and a giver of many chances and extra opportunities, even when others would say that those second, third, and forth chances were not deserved. She insisted on finding and believing the best about you and me and every person in her life.
H – Helpful to anyone who needed help. She thrived on helping, fixing, and micro-managing others. 😉 From the day we met, God melded our hearts and she took an interest in my life. Cheryl appointed herself my mother (as she called me her third daughter), my agent (she was always trying to get me “speaking invitations” ), my adviser (she often began her conversations to me with “Here’s what you need to do…”), my connection-maker (as in, “Come over here. I want you to meet…”), my “fixer” of whatever she thought needed fixing. I know I’m not alone in that aspect! Cheryl has probably been your “mother”, “agent”, “adviser”, “connection mKer” and “fixer” too!
She tirelessly helped those who rented from her, and those who didn’t, those new in town, and those who have lived here all of their lives. If a need was brought to Cheryl, she did everything within her power and influence to help make it better. I’m sure she has probably pulled many of you into her schemes of helping people. What Cheryl told us to do, we did it, didn’t we?
E – Entrepreneur. Was she ever! Cheryl built a successful business, one rental property at a time. She invested both her heart and her hands in each home, and has provided shelter for hundreds of people over the years. In addition to loving her rental business, Cheryl said that the jobs of teaching her classes at Hayes Cooper and caring for her husband and grandchildren were among her greatest joys. In watching her life, none of us could fully understand HOW she was able to do it all!
R – Resilient. Only the Lord knows how many times Cheryl beat the odds. With each challenge God allowed to touch her life, she responded with both faith and fight. A weaker person would have given in to self-pity, but not Cheryl. She kept fighting and trying to “manage” and “plan” her life and ours – right until the last day.
Y – Youthful. Cheryl had a young zest for life. She certainly didn’t “act her age” – and that was a beautiful thing. Ever young at heart, Cheryl loved to laugh, visit, shop, entertain, and have fun! She never met a stranger, did she? Cheryl was known for her super bowl parties and was always planning a “get together” of some kind. She loved to do crazy things to make other people laugh. Some of you are smiling now, as you think of something funny that you and Cheryl shared.
L – Loved. Cheryl was deeply loved by her husband, children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, friends, church family, and community. One of her brothers said that Cheryl was the wealthiest person in the world, if you counted her portfolio of friends. We loved her, and she loved us – and we knew it. Most of all, she was and is loved by her Savior, Jesus Christ – and she is enjoying His presence this very moment.
She will be greatly missed – but Cheryl’s life is not over. It’s really only just begun. And those of us who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will see Cheryl again one day.
I want to close with some Truth from Scripture that we all need to remember today, and in the days to come. This passage is from 1 Corinthians 15 in the Message Translation:
“But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast… from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over… the dead will be up and out of their graves… never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!” 1 Cor. 15:51-55
And from 2 Corinthians 4, we are encouraged to remember:
“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 2 Cor. 4:17-18
We say Goodbye for now, dear Cheryl. We love you and will see you again one of these days. But for today, we entrust you to the arms of Jesus… who loves you most of all.
May 22, 2012