Part-time Jackson resident Lauren Sherwood-Sutherland died May 21. She was 25. Her family provided the following.
Chili’s restaurant lost a loyal customer on May 21. The strawberry margarita mix now sits in a cold, lonely, dark space behind a counter, completely underappreciated.
Lauren, you called it as it was. Within days of your December diagnosis of an aggressive beast of a cancer, you said “Well, it’s either going to be OK or it’s not!”
You were right, of course.
As the days went by and the docs discovered it had spread throughout your body, you focused on enjoying the time you had left with your family.
Honey, we recognize that you grieved deeply as you lived your final chapter. We know you thought about what your 3-year-old daughter’s wedding might be like a couple decades down the road and if she’d remember the way you laughed, adventured or read to her.
We know you were frustrated at the thought of missing our upcoming bucket-list zip lining adventure in Alaska and your California beachfront family reunion next month.
We know you pondered the next years in your fresh marriage, as you laughed about those early days, scraping by with a coal oil lantern instead of electricity at times.
You dreamed and schemed about how far and fast you could accelerate your administrative professional career path. You bemoaned that your sweet sister will swoop in to take all of the “good Goodwill” finds you would have loved.
Anticipating these losses were ways that cancer made things “not OK.”
And so very fortunately, because we had a few opportune months, there were many ways we made things “OK” — and many days even great — as we took the bull by the horns and really lived! We specifically sought to “find a blessing in every day.”
In this quest we got to go to Margaritaville more than a couple of times, we lived and laughed and loved, and we headed to Mount Lemmon high above Tucson and dreamed of more adventures.
We created masterpieces and mementos, bringing your HGTV obsession to life. We cried and laughed and screamed any hour we darn well pleased, and we certainly found more times to snuggle closer as a family. You bought out multiple yard sales, and redesigned our home 14 times as per your usual decorative (and lovably OCD) vision.
We laughed about your adventurous spirit, recalling ATVing in the Caribbean and up the side of the steepest cliff in Daniel, the cornrows and froggies in Jamaica, and hitting targets more than a thousand yards away. We giggled as we recalled singing John Denver’s “Country Roads” and belting out ABBA tunes on more than a few fun road trips. We remembered adventuring on mission trips throughout the Americas.
We smiled with you as you remembered family fun at California amusement parks with your Arizona family, your horseback riding honeymoon in the hills, and your first Mother’s Day with sweet Violet. There was Blanket Sunday “graduate wrapping” at the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole, and cheerleading with your sister at Jackson Hole High School, driving in circles around this big state.
We recalled the joy-filled awe reverberating throughout the valley during the great solar eclipse last year.
And you reminisced about your love for getting pedicures in the big cities (you know, the “big cities” of Idaho Falls and Tucson), and saving the disposable blue raincoats from Niagara Falls’ “Maid of the Mist” boat tour with Gramoose!
There are so many beautiful memories of your life to recount: The birth of your daughter, Violet Ann, and your lovely “baby delivery” tradition where Dylan wrapped her in a precious bundle after bath nights and delivered her to your open arms for a snuggle.
Pets who became second children, and getting lost in camping, boating and hiking experiences in the Wyoming wilderness with your sister.
You eagerly jumped in with our family businesses, tying bows with The Hole Package, packing umpteen antlers at the UPS Stores, and ultimately finding your professional niche and excelling at being the Guest Care Guru with the Jackson Hole Shooting Experience.
Feeding geese on the ponds in the Tetons, dreaming of house-flipping, and hoarding hundreds of shower caps from hotels around the world in honor of Dokeroo’s last hurrah at the Wigwam. What a ride!
You spoke of your “no regrets” lifestyle for so many years, and we hope in some small (and big) ways we helped you find your way to continue that journey in your last days also, Love.
Has your vision come true? You joked even as you talked about your “peaceful passing,” wanting there to be “hot men and free drinks on a beach in Mexico with Grandma Christi and Dokie and Susan, and the others who have died before me.”
“I’ll see you on the other side,” you said. Go toward your happiness, girl. We will tend to the present, and toast and roast you as you said you wanted.
Lauren, we are thankful to have had the fortune to share these 25-plus years with you. Your humor, tears and wonderful expressions of love, joy, fear and hope that you expressed during your experience helped us to live this final chapter and better prepare for our lives without your physical presence. There will never, ever be a day without you living in our hearts, memories, pictures or plans.
You, Lauren Sherwood-Sutherland, made a difference in our lives. Thank you!
We love you, and we will always lovingly call you mama, wife, daughter, granddaughter, co-worker, friend and inspiration. Love, Your Fans.
As for some obligatory obituary details:
Lauren Sherwood-Sutherland was born June 17, 1992.
She is survived by her awesome 3-year old daughter, Violet Sutherland, and husband, Dylan Sutherland; devoted sister, Cayla Sherwood, and her family, George, Lyla and Charlie; loving parents, Lynn Sherwood and Shepard Humphries, and Charlie and Sabra Sherwood; awesome grandparents, Judy Legg, Al Shontze and Charles and Eva Sherwood; caring cousins, supporters, family, in-laws and friends, far and wide.
Lauren’s Jackson Hole family will privately spread her ashes “to the wind, at home in Jackson Hole,” per her requests.
In lieu of flowers, please go hug the ones you love. Really. Go physically wrap your arms around them now, take them for margaritas or hand-holding, hiking, book-reading or wherever their happy-place is. Call, write, say hello. Seize this day, friends, for their sake and yours. You are not promised tomorrow. When you go do this — and please, go do this — please send us your story. Not only will we smile (something we would love right now), we’ll also add your story to Violet’s memory box. (Ripple effect, here we come!)
Sunday, Father’s Day, would have been Lauren’s 26th birthday. If you’re in town and need a hug or wish to give one, want to share a fun story or simply a smile, grab your family and come to our “Celebrate Lauren” party. Come for 5 minutes or a few hours, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and live, love and laugh with us. Cancer, fear and pain, you are not allowed here — we will celebrate life instead! Message Shepard, Lynn or Judy for our home address.