I once mused upon the balance shift when a sibling dies. Losing a close friend has a similar effect. SCS feels like a Jenga game with a base block removed.

 “I severely overestimated my ability and underestimated the difficulty.”

– Larry Sharp, Appalachian Trail, 2019 
following the guys’ hike on a teeny weeny part of the Appalachian Trail. Larry had a way of acknowledging his weaknesses with humor. He was no less kind with others.

Larry died.

Larry died of COVID earlier this year. I use the d-word. No euphemism eases the pain.

Our age puts us at higher risk not only for COVID, but for Death by other means. I won’t recite the losses of the past 15 months. The pandemic imprisoned us in our grief. Streamed funerals, we learned, were notable for including friends and family unable to attend live, but lacked the healing of human touch.

This past weekend we joined family and friends on the patio of Larry’s beloved Saugatuck Center for the Arts to celebrate his life. The Michigan weather, perfect for a day on the lake, framed our sorrow. The recent release of the vaccine and easing of restrictions allowed us embraces and maskless tears. The many eulogies disclosed nothing new: Larry was an all-round great guy.


Now we face life without Larry. His vacated position in the social structure of the Sharp-Cornelius-Steffen (SCS) coalition means that some shuffling must take place to maintain this personally vital organization. I write in all seriousness.

I would wish everyone a group of friends like SCS. The families have known each other for 40 years. We have traveled together with all our children, and more recently, just the adults. No matter than some of our kids are middle age, they are still “the kids”.

Here’s the difficulty. Larry was the instigator. I don’t doubt he had a spreadsheet template formatted prior to doing any research. Once the destination was agreed upon, Larry was on it, searching accommodations, activities, transportation.

Everyone had a part, but Larry was the driving force. He is the guy who picked up the phone to move the process, contacting us to elicit ideas, editing his spreadsheet as needed.


I once mused upon the balance shift when a sibling dies. Losing a close friend has a similar effect. SCS feels like a Jenga game with a base block removed. Mike will maintain the spreadsheet. Pat will run the conversation. Diane and I will prod the guys, and Bob will follow along happily.

And each time we check into a hotel, a hole in the structure will gape, and we will sense the holes in our hearts.

Love you, Larr.

Author: Mary Cornelius

I am an aging woman who writes three blogs.

4 thoughts on “Shakeup”

  1. Allow Larry to still be your driving force by asking “what would Larry say? What would Larry like us to do, go, enjoy…..”

    Sympathies for you all.

    Rich & Nancy Stepp

  2. Thank you for the kind words but all of you guys did a lot of work on all of our trips. Maybe Larry was just better at herding we cats. Love you guys!

  3. So sorry for another loss. Glad you got to be with each other. Condolences to all.

  4. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. And I appreciate you using the ‘D’ word. Frankly, the terminology ‘passing away’ drives me nuts. A person dies. We need to deal with the brevity of its meaning.

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