A bouquet of flowers picked along the way ….

Goodbye Cheri December 8, 2009

Filed under: friends — gurdas @ :

Cheri's friends and family at the memorial service, June 3, 2010

Cheri, office manager for my apartment complex, passed away this past weekend.

The news reached us a few minutes ago. And only a few minutes before that I had gone down to the office looking for a package I was expecting and wondered why the office was closed. Little did I know the news that awaited me. I liked Cheri. She was good at her job and she was a great person. I saw her on Friday when I stopped by at the office concerning collections for a charity. We exchanged niceties and chit chatted about issues related to the new parking rules. I took leave saying “Enjoy your weekend”.

A few months ago I was eager to move out of my apartment to another building within the same complex; a place with more sun and air. It was an unsure period since I was also evaluating moving in with my international friends. Cheri completely understood the difficult choice I had to make and she went out of her way to provide time and options. I know she stepped away from guidelines by allowing me to keep my apartment beyond the lease renewal deadline. She patiently continued to show me apartments as they became available and on the fourth visit she showed me the apartment where I now live.

For more than a year now, Cheri has been there when we needed her. It will take me some time to visualise that office without Cheri, her welcoming smile, and her hearty greeting “Good morning, Gurdas!”. I am informed she has family in Michigan and Florida and we are waiting to find out where the funeral will take place. I hope I get to say goodbye in person.

Cheri Smolen, my friend, you leave us poorer.


— update and request —

Many of us are saddened to hear that Cheri fought with lonliness. I, for one, never gauged that from my brief but plenty interactions with her during her time at Western Manor apartments. She seemed aloof at times, but then I can say that for everyone, including myself. And this increases my respect for Cheri. If she was fighting a battle within herself, and yet managed to diligently attend to her professional duties, it is nothing but a mark of her character. So, God bless her.

I am also going to humbly request that comments focus on memories of Cheri, what she meant to you, her goodness, and your goodbye message. When I wrote this piece I had not imagined so many of Cheri’s friends would find their way here. For that, I am thankful to each of you. And I would like this page to become our very modest gift to our dear friend.

— update 2 —

There are some comments where people have requested for information about Cheri’s family; specially the request by Shirley Franklin Fleury. If you have information to share, please post it as a comment or send it to me. My email address appears in the ‘About’ page (see top blue bar).

— update 3 —

Please also leave your condolences for Cheri here. Laura, thank you for starting this.

— update 4 —

Today, June 3, 2010, some of Cheri’s friends from the spiritual community she attended got together and celebrated her life with a memorial service. I am so glad I went. This was my first such attendance in the US, and I was moved by what I saw and heard. A service berry tree was planted in her memory beside the visitor center at the Umstead Park and some of us shared our memories of Cheri. What I liked most was that hope and joy was abound in that group, and when we did have a tear or two, it had nothing to do with sadness, but a lot to do with love. I happen to remark that life is rather extraordinary because the passing away of a friend becomes the reason to meet so many new wonderful people. There was a lot of wisdom collectively held between the group that had come together to celebrate Cheri’s life. I think she would be proud of what she has left behind. I felt like saying, Hello Cheri.


48 Responses to “Goodbye Cheri”

  1. anon Says:

    Cheri will be truly missed…her friendship valued…her smile irreplaceable. It is important for us to remember the way she lived her life, not the fact that it ended.

    Old Native American Wisdom:

    “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.”
    -White Elk

  2. anonymous Says:

    I also live in the apartment complex. It was quite a shock when I found out she passes away. Do you have any idea how it happened?

  3. Cheri's uncle Mike Says:

    I wish to thank you for your good thoughts for Cheri, She battled her illness for too long, and it finally took her from us.
    Glad to hear she was so well thought of

    • gurdas Says:

      Uncle Mike, we send our condolences and support to the family in this hour. Some of us would like to attend the memorial service. Please let us know if that is OK with the family, and if yes, the time and venue.

      • Kim Says:

        I worked with Cheri in Michigan @ the Housing Commssion. I kept in contact with her but not enough. I just found out today about her passing. My sympathies to her family. I am sure she is at peace now, reunited with Karma!

  4. Shola Says:

    It is amazing to hear from the people Cheri touched…I was a friend of her’s and I’m not even sure she knew how much others valued her presence. Thank you for posting this blog.

    • gurdas Says:

      Shola, I understand what you say. When she helped me find my current apartment, I profusely thanked her and conveyed how much her patience has meant. But I now regret not doing what I then thought of. I wanted to give her a thank you card, but for no particular reason ended up not doing it. What a failure on my part!

  5. Gurpreet Says:

    Cheri attended my church from time to time. I had no idea she was struggling with depression. I am so saddened by her passing. May God bless and welcome her soul with open arms, and give much comfort to her family during this difficult time. Cheri, you will be missed!

    • gurdas Says:

      Gurpreet, I was unaware of her illness, too. And, it is to Cheri’s credit that she managed to keep her illness to herself even while excelling in her duty as a professional.

  6. Kathy Says:

    Thanks for posting this for Cheri.
    I’m so sorry to hear about her passing. We haven’t been in touch for about a year, but met at a presentation that neither of us liked! She went out on a lake in kayaks with me, and so enjoyed the serenity of it, some lake worker came by thinking we must be stuck, just sitting there appreciating our surroundings! She mentioned a church I was also interested in, so we both began attending that. We also enjoying taking hikes or walks together, we had some nice times. My thoughts and prayers to Cheri and her family at this time.
    I heard the service may be in Michigan.

    • gurdas Says:

      Kathy, Thanks for the endearing memories! I can vividly picture Cheri sitting calm in her kayak in the water. Michigan is a long way from here, but I would still like to try and make it. Obviously, if that is OK with her family. Do you know the date?

      • Kathy Says:

        I found some relatives addresses in an old e mail from Cheri. An Aunt was kind enough to quickly write back the following:

        “We have decided not to put an obituary in the paper and we did spend this weekend as a family remembering Cheri in our own way.

        As you probably know, Cheri was a big animal lover, and if anyone wants to make some type of tangible remembrance, they could make a donation to their local Humane Society.

        Also, we still have not located her cat, Torch. I went by her apartment today and left more food out on the porch. If and when we find the cat Cheri would want the cat to go to a good home (I have a bird). “

  7. Beth Says:

    Cheri was a gift to all of us who knew her. It is a blessing that I was able to have the time I did with her. She will always be in my heart.
    Thank you Gurdas for posting about her, it brings me comfort to know that she was so loved.

  8. Jon Says:

    Thanks to all of you for your remembrances of Cheri. She was a great friend to me and taught me a lot. I hope she is at peace and I send her love.

  9. Susan Says:

    Cheri was a very special woman that was always seeking the Truth. She quoted passages out of books she read and was such a spiritual seeker. I know that she is at peace and all is well. She will be missed. I will always remember her kindness when I was going through a difficult time. She always took the time to ask how my son was doing and was so caring!

  10. Martha-Lee Says:

    Thank you, Gurdas, for starting this opportunity for us to say something about Cheri. She was a kind and gentle person and a dear friend. My heart aches, even though I know that her struggle is now over and she is at peace. Today is the first day I have actually been able to feel peaceful about her. I am grateful for all those who have expressed their caring thoughts about our friend. May the White Light of peace and protection surround her.

  11. Heidi Says:

    Thank you for posting this! I used to be Cheri’s co-worker. I was the Office Manager at ES King until I moved this past June. I was shocked and saddened to hear the news about Cheri. I worked with her for a short time and did not get the opportunity to know her well but I l know she was a good person. I am sad that she had to leave this world but I hope she has found her peace in a world without pain. My condolences to all of her family and friends.

  12. Laura Ansara Says:

    Will someone please contact me. I have to talk to Mike in Detroit. I am Cheri’s friend Laura in Grandville, Michigan. We were very close. When she lived in Grandville we were like sisters. We had breakfast every Saturday or Sunday….sat on her deck and drank coffee and talked and talked and talked. I love her like a sister…..
    I hadn’t talked to her in a couple of weeks and I called her on Christmas eve…..I got her voice mail….when I called again on the day after Christmas the mail box was full. I have been calling…..figured something was wrong, so googled her name….I am finding out today that my dear, dear friend has finally gone home……Please someone e-mail me and let me know when the funeral was….I’m at Hapmer

    • gurdas Says:

      Laura, I join you in your grief.
      I have sent you an email about this. Unfortunately, I have very little information and do not have Mike’s contact info. Maybe another reader here has and can help both of us.

  13. willa Says:

    I worked with Cheri for a short time here in Florida. I continued to e-mail her when she moved out of State. I am very saddened to learn of her death. She was a wonderful person .

  14. Marcie Says:

    I had the greatest pleasure of working with Cheri in Florida as well. She was so easy to get along with and we became pretty good friends even though it was mostly by phone & eamil. I know that she suffered greatly with depression & no who was there she always felt alone. I will miss her dearly. I have lived in GA now for a year & wish more than ever I had taken the opportunity & time to visit her in NC.
    I am praying for her family & friends. She will be missed dearly. Her & I shared the love for dogs!
    I am still just so shocked…..

    • gurdas Says:

      Marcie, it is true that all of us wish we had done more, and said more when we had the opportunity. At the same time, I am sure your words reach Cheri and she appreciates the thoughts you carry for her.

  15. Barbara Says:

    i worked with Cheri in Ocala, Fl and sorry to hear of her passing. May God be with here family at this time.

  16. Alison Says:

    I, too, worked with Cheri in Michigan. She was a great person with a wonderful sense of humor and a fantastic work ethic. We have missed her from the day she left us and will continue to do so forever. I have to admit that I am a little upset with her for her chosen way out of this crazy thing we call “life.” However, it gives me peace that she is now resting and no longer stuggling. Miss you Cheri! Wish all the best to her friends, family, and acquaintances.

    • gurdas Says:

      Alison, we share your anguish. Let us celebrate Cheri’s dedication and goodness, for she gave each of us the gift of her friendship.

  17. I am truly saddned by this news. Cheri was a great person who struggled with loneliness. She wanted to give so much of herself to others. **edited** Family is the most important part of life so make sure each one of us takes the time to welcome them. God Bless you Cheri!! I will miss you deeply. I
    always talked with her at least twice a month and sometimes more and the last time we talked with Thanksgiving weekend and she was struggling with loneliness.

    • gurdas Says:

      Lois, death sometimes completes sentences that life found hard to finish. We hope our memories of Cheri give her soul the joy and peace it deserved but did not have in life. And yes, you are quite right about family. We need to often remind ourselves about this, and take the time to say “I love you” to those that we love. And invest time and effort to love those we do not but should.

  18. Shirley Franklin Fleury Says:

    I am Cheri’s Aunt Shirley who lives in New York State. Cheri is my older sister’s daughter who I loved dearly. I was with her mother when Cheri was born. She was a beautiful, little, blond haired girl who giggled and laughed easily. She came from a troubled background, through no fault of her own. Her mother, my sister, committed suicide when Cheri was only 4 yrs old. Her father, who also had many problems, did the best he could, but, was unstable much of Cheri’s life. After I left Michigan I always stayed in touch with Cheri. Cheri came to live with me and my husband, in New York State, for a year during her junior year in high school. She then returned to Michigan where she continued her education and her life. More recent times we had been somewhat disconnected only talking about every 6 months. The depression that Cheri battled was what I call our “family curse”. Many people in my family have been treated for depression, including myself. I pray that Cheri is at peace now and is in the arms of her loving mother. I am writing this to ask that anyone that has any phone, email addresses, or addresses of any of the Smolen family please contact me. Today is the first day that I knew of Cheri’s death. I just happened upon this by googling Cheri’s name. They all know who I am and I’m sure they may have tried to get in touch with me. My email address is: I can also be found on facebook under Shirley Franklin Fleury. Or, they can contact my other sister, Cindy Franklin. We are in shock and are distraught by this news. I last spoke with Cheri in October and had tried to call her with no success. Also, I appreciate all the kind words that have been posted here. They are a small insight into Cheri’s life that we otherwise would not know about. Thank you.

    • gurdas Says:

      Aunt Shirley, please accept our gratitude for stopping by and sharing your kind words about Cheri: “She was a beautiful, little, blond haired girl who giggled and laughed easily.”
      I look back and see remnants of that child in the Cheri I knew. One wished she had more good fortune in her life, but who are we to argue with what the Lord has in store? May her soul rest in peace and may her memories inspire us to lead more meaningful lives.

  19. Cindy Franklin Says:

    Thank you Gurdas for your warm memories of Cheri. I’m her other aunt. My fondest memories of Cheri are walking her dogs down the trails in Grandville,Mi. She loved those trails. Sitting on her back deck just enjoying the peace and quiet. that she highly valued. If it wasn’t quiet time then it was rock and roll! Her smiles were genuine and beautiful. She was an angel here on earth and now an angel in heaven.

    • gurdas Says:

      Aunt Cindy, I would not have imagined Cheri as a Rock n Roll person! You add a valuable facet to her image in our minds. Thank you!
      I hope she is enjoying some of that song and dance routine with the angels, and in turn spreading the “eternal sunshine of a spotless mind”.

    • Laura Ansara Says:

      OMG Gurdas, yes Cheri was a huge rock and roller!! mini skirts and all!!! I have to literally lol thinking about Cheri getting so mad at me for what I’m about to share. She loved the old 80’s rock and roll….Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Metallica…..oh geezz I don’t know all the “hard rock” stuff she liked, but I too have a hard time reconciling Cheri’s professional demeanor from her friendship demeanor!! You are missed by all my friend. RIP Cheri. I miss you and love you!

      • Kathy Says:

        Ha, yep…. she dragged me out one night when I had a fever of about 100 degrees, to watch her bf’s heavy metal band playing near where we lived ; )
        … Thanks for the following condolences link.

      • gurdas Says:

        Cheri+Mini+Metallica > OMG
        I wish I had a picture of her doing just this 🙂

      • Laura Ansara Says:

        I’m smiling thinking about her getting so mad at me for sharing!!! Cheri really was a very private person…….She would be mad in a good way I think……

  20. Laura Ansara Says:

    could all who have shared their thoughts of Cheri go to the above site and share your memories here too?? Thank you.

    RIP Cheri my wonderful friend……I miss you….

  21. Claudia Csont Bay Says:

    Both you and your mom will always be in my heart. May you rest in peace.

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