Our family has suffered a tremendous, devastating loss on this day. Rather than dwell on the events of today, I'd rather focus on the wonderful gifts God gave my wife for almost 45 years, and my family circle since I met her.
Sharon Hornberger was the last of Myrtle Semones' 14 children, born in January of 1966. At this time, Bonnie's mom was pregnant with Bonnie. She was born that July. Even though Sharon was, "officially", her aunt, they were more like twin sisters, except that they weren't sisters, and they weren't twins. I hope that makes sense and I don't use that description jokingly. I try to use it to help explain to you just how close Sharon and Bonnie have been their entire lives.
Bonnie grew up in a huge family and everyone was close-by. I had the opposite experience growing up, with all my extended family living in Maine or North Carolina. I saw my cousins once a year, or every few years. Bonnie saw her family constantly. Especially on Sundays. So, while I cannot relate to it personally, I have seen over the years how important that has been in my wife's development, and, I'm so glad my kids' cousins have been in close proximity to them for most of their childhoods.
In 1989, Bonnie and I moved to our second apartment. Around the same time, Sharon and her husband Brian and their then young daughter Sarah moved in as well, down the street. The day, in 1992, when Sharon called Bonnie at work and said, "Brian and I are buying a house!", Bonnie immediately called me at work and said, "If they can do it, why can't we?"
Four days later, we signed a contract with their real estate agent, and, on Halloween of that year, we all left the apartment complex and moved into our homes, on the same street. We're the second house on the right, they are the fourth on the left. And it has remained that way until the present time.
If the phone rang, it was 50/50 it was Sharon calling. Always checking on Bonnie and all of us. And, as situations came and went (my Mom's death, Robbie's health issues, my health issues, etc.), she was the constant that made sure nothing needed to be done. In many cases, she obviously sensed something because she would show up at the house with something we needed and we had never asked for it.
In late 2006, Bonnie and Sharon were among a group who got to go on a Caribbean cruise. As an aside, Bonnie was so glad Sharon would go, since she knows she'll never get me near a boat, much less out in an ocean.....
In the summer of 2007, they, along with Rachel and my sister-in-law, took a trip to Las Vegas. The guys stayed home. These are wonderful memories that now Bonnie, as well as Rachel, get to hold and cherish.
Here's how important Sharon has been to us:
1) She was the only other person besides me in the delivery room when Rachel was born in 1997.
2) The aforementioned trips together.
3) The sixth sense that constantly carried on between Sharon and Bonnie.
4) She helped spawn the second phase of Rachel's musical career, giving her a violin that she had had put away for many years. Rachel named it "Scribbles". She played it at a Richmond Symphony concert at Richmond CenterStage this very morning. Little did we know.....
Oh, I did forget to mention one important item. Since 1997, Sharon has been sick, fighting a host of medical issues, most notably, Crohn's Disease. So, all this time while she watched out for us from across the pavement and took care of her Mom, who passed 17 months ago at age 85, and helped out her 13 siblings, AND helped out strangers, and friends of friends.......she was in and out of the hospital so many times I suspect we've all lost count. She couldn't work any longer, but she could still be, even bedridden at times, an inspiration and a source of solutions for a myriad of people. Disability does not take away God's ability to use you.
Today, about three weeks after celebrating her 45th birthday, she went to take a nap, and did not wake up. The Henrico EMT's were incredible in their work to try to save her during the struggle; we thank them for that. And, over the past almost seven hours, dozens of calls have been made and family and friends have poured into the house across the street.
Tomorrow, Lord Willing, we wake up to face a new day, but all of us, most notably her husband of 25 years, and her two fantastic children, begin a new reality. Please pray for them, and for my wife as well, as she has truly lost her best friend.
We will go on and help each other. She set the example, even while facing incredible odds. It's the least we can do.