A Serious Blog–I’m serious.

23 Aug

So this entry may be a bit heavy. If you’d rather have a night filled with puppies and bunnies and rainbows, perhaps skip this blog.

There are two days of the year I let myself tap into a place like this. February 28th– my sister Jeri’s birthday and August 20th-the day my little sister went to heaven. For those of you who didn’t know Jeri, know that she was an amazing little sister. At only 13 years old, she was able to touch many people. Even to this day, 8 years later, people still talk and think about her. There is still an annual Jeri Boehlke Memorial horse show and a J.B. scholarship fund. She carried herself like someone way above her years. I swear she was a 20-something year old trapped in a 13 year-old body.

August 20, 2004- Like I said, I only let myself go to this place two times a year, and I’ve never actually wrote about it in a public forum. Actually, very few (if any?) people know what actually happened that day. I obviously don’t want to go back to the actual events, but I will share a few things in memory of my sister.

In a weird, slightly bizarre way- this day was one of the best days I’ve shared with Jeri. We spent the morning riding Lazer and Stoker(those naughty horses) and checked cows for Dad. I remember riding up the hill by Grandma’s house (going down to the orchard) and singing “Outcast” songs at the top of our lungs. I remember doing our ritual and tying the horses up by the big shed, planning to retrieve them later. I remember riding the 4-wheeler home because there was this ‘awesome rodeo’ that Jeri wanted to see. I remember telling her to drive because I didn’t like to drive fast. I remember singing that day, all day. I miss those days. These were the pre-high school and high school days where Grandma and Grandpa were still alive and my summers were filled with cousins, county and state fairs, and waking up early to put the steers in the cooler. But life goes on, and all of a sudden you find yourself in New York City at 23 years old auditioning for Broadway shows. Classic Life.

I often wonder what Jeri would be like today. I do know she would be well liked, funny, beautiful and an amazing sister and friend. I know she’s in heaven and I will see her someday. I’m sorry if this blog is sad or depressing , I really didn’t mean it to be that at all. Instead, I hope it inspires people to cherish what you have before it’s gone. Face it, if you haven’t lost anyone close yet, you will. Life is bound to throw you for a loop, and sooner or later you will lose someone close. Just know that there are people out there that are going through the same thing and we are all in this together. That’s why I never go to bed fighting with someone and I never like to leave conversations on a bad note. You never know what will be the last words you say to a person. I miss my sister Jeri so much. However, time goes on and the memories fade. She will never be forgotten, but you do have to grow and live on.

My sister Sabrina wrote this on her timeline August 20: My questions may never be answered but I have to trust in the lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding -Probs 3:5
Go home and hug your family, now! Love you Jeri
forever in heaven 🙂

These are the only pictures I could muster up of Jeri online, but I think they suffice! Little sister: I remember reading your diary after you went to heaven. Know that many people were touched by you. You were a beautiful, angelic sister and had a strong faith. Can’t wait to see you up there. – Your big sis, Drea



24 Responses to “A Serious Blog–I’m serious.”

  1. CarynYoder August 23, 2012 at 2:45 am #

    I remember that day – first time I remember seeing you. Everyone in Kurt & Cary’s shop. Beautiful young girl arm in a bandage. Sitting. Quiet. Shock. Pastor Lindau saying a prayer. Young cousins – running playing – not quite understanding. Your Mom the picture of grace and composure.. Your Dad – still trying to be “Royal” but not quite knowing how. So honored that John and I were included in the family gathering.

    My Jeri memories…pigtail braids, barrel riding at County Fair with your Dad, that patterned sweater…

    John’s favorite Jeri story – took place the winter before she died. Snow in Freistadt. Jeri and your Dad were in the area. She was your dad’s partner in crime. Young girl comes in the barn while John is milking. “Mister – can you help me, my car went in the ditch.” John gets chains – going to get a tractor – and there is your Dad – laughing and Jeri just smiling. Didn’t matter that Jeri was no where near driving age. They had just pulled one over on the second cousin twice removed.

    She and her braids and the mishievious twinkle in her eye are smiling down on you…

  2. Kevin August 23, 2012 at 4:28 am #

    That’s tough. That’s double tough, kid.

    Okay, I stole that from Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black, but I think it applies here. If you happen to run down an alien while living in NYC just like Will Smith, please blog about it and I’ll again reply with, “That’s double tough, kid.” Very much looking forward to that.

    My only comment is regarding your first paragraph when you said, “…perhaps skip this blog.” Please never say that again. Don’t apologize for writing something you feel strongly about. I think people are going to read your blog because they like you and they want to hear what you have to say, whether it be about movies or theater or Survivor or the subway or Uma Thurman or how that audition went or family or whatever else is on your mind that day. Even if that day happens to be February 28th or August 20th.

    I’m interested to see where this goes. I can’t be the only one. Good luck.

    Also, it’s okay to tap into those feeling more than twice a year. I’ll bet there would be more laughter than tears. Now, time to Google bunnies and rainbows.

  3. Alyssa August 23, 2012 at 5:36 am #

    My entire life was altered by the events of that day. Some days I still cry because at the time I felt like Jeri was the only friend I had at school even though I knew she just tried to treat everyone the same. Her funeral was the day before Kettle started classes for my freshman year. I spent over a year recovering from her death and then compounded with our house fire. Sometimes when life sticks you, it sticks you good. Life makes you pray. As off colour as this may sound, her dying might have been one of the greatest things to happen to me while simultaneously the worst. I grew up so much and learned what really mattered. I eventually learned how to deal with the death of friends close to me, which so far has been a skill well used.

    Maybe not the best but a very vivid memory is when Brie would flip off the Catholic girls when they got off the bus and to indicate the offender, the girls and Jeri started coughing violently and very fakely as an ID when she was walking down the bus aisle. That and one time at school sitting out on the concrete steps by the gym doors and talking about life and this one time you fell off the back of a log. Tweens/young teens have such great stories.

    For my Interpersonal Communications class this last fall, the class is required to have four “talks”, that is being able to get up in front of the class and fulfill the general public speaking guidelines and capture an audience. The last talk was to be about an inspirational figure. Two minutes. To some, it was daunting, but I knew what I was going to talk about as soon as the professor announced the requirements. I wrote it about you. It was great. I talked about how this lady from Survivor came back as a shocker from Redemption Island to battle Rob for the million dollars…and then told them how you didn’t win. But then I said how you were the first person I remember meeting. It was rather memorable (“Hi. You’re Ana’s sister. She says you’re weird. Is that true?”).

    But that didn’t make you inspirational, nor did the stories that your little sister would tell about you and mishaps you’d fallen into…rather it came after your sister stopped telling stories. You stayed strong and kept working hard to fulfill your dreams and try to make it out East. You stayed a Christian and kept going to church even though your own sister died in a sudden and tragic way. You’re running the race and keeping the faith – to me, that’s a true role model.

    So many memories of all of you girls flood back around this time of the year. My only regret is not being socially competent enough to be a better friend at the time.

  4. andreaboehlke August 23, 2012 at 7:03 am #

    Wow, thank you guys so much for these comments! It is so great to hear other people’s memories of Jerilyn.
    Caryn- Yes, she always wore those cute braids and plaid patterns! I think my best memories were riding speed shows with her. We were qutie the pair, especially the bareback switch. Riding horses wasn’t really as enjoyable after she left us, but I cherish those days riding Trigger, Lazer, Buddy, and Dezeray.
    Kevin- Thanks. I like that. You are very right–I should not apologize for what is in my blog, because isn’t that the beauty of a blog? You can write whatever you want. 🙂
    Alyssa- Thank you so much for sharing.I am very flattered and humbled that you would talk about me as a role model. I have tried to be strong, but it really isn’t until recent years that I am able to accept Jeri’s death and talk about it. It’s weird that it took 8 years and now I want to talk about her and celebrate her, but unfortunately the memories have escaped me. I don’t remember her voice, I have to look at pictures to remember what she looks like, and only one or two memories really stick out. However, I do know the type of person she was, and would grow up to be. Just the way she impacted and touched so many people at only 13 years old is a great indication of how beautiful she was, inside and out. Alyssa, don’t worry about not being ‘a better friend’ as you put it. I know Jeri thought the world of you, and your family was a big part of our St. Lucas days. You are a strong and wonderful young lady and I’m very happy I can say I know you. Also—was that really the first thing I said to you?! Oi vey.

    • Alyssa August 24, 2012 at 1:20 am #

      Darling, I get it. Obviously none of my siblings are dead, but every time that I think about Jeri and how that made me feel I think about how I might die of pain if one of my sisters would die. I just think about that day with your dad, your family sitting in the pews and your dad just being a saint when all I could do was cry. Time heals all wounds and distance makes the heart grow fonder, but I doubt that anything could ever alter the view I have of either of you. It’s definitely not a negative viewpoint. Thank you so much.

      Your family was a big part of our lives as well and in the rare moment we sit and have a powwow as a family, sometimes y’all come up and we’ll tell stories. We’re glad to know you as well. I most certainly am. I wear the hat your dad gave me, if that doesn’t prove something I don’t know what will. 😛

      Haha, and yes! How does it feel to know that a first memory of something is that? 🙂

      I went to Guatemala this summer for a month for school. Maybe some of the pictures remind you for Nicaragua. 🙂

  5. Dan August 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Andrea, I love you so much. I know you were and continue to be an AMAZING sister and role model. You are one of my favorite people on this earth and you are a pillar to me and so many people.

  6. Cassie August 23, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    My favorite Jeri:

    Phrase, “Huggie!!”

    Memory: Jeri walking around County Fair with “Naughty”, a leash/collar of baler twine, only a day after Naughty had been sprayed by a skunk.

    Oh do I miss that girl. She emitted rays of happiness and joy. Andrea, she only saw the best in everyone–and this wasn’t just because of her age and innocence. She really just WANTED to see the best in everyone. She IS so proud of you as she watches you from heaven and you know that she had all the angels tuning into SURVIVOR with her.

    Andrea, I love you and miss you. Keep following the dream, girl. Jeri is with you every step of the way (and so are we).

    • andreaboehlke August 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

      Thank you, Dan.
      Cassie! Oh my goodness—Naughty was totally her dog. I actually remember you doing “STEEAMMMROLLLER” over us when you would come hang out with us. I loved/hated when you did that! Jeri really loved you (as we all did and do) because you were such a great role model for us growing up. I love and miss you so much. Next time I’m home we definitely need to get together. ❤

      • Lindsey Rathke August 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

        Il never forget when she would always say “huggie”!!! I loved helping you and jeri do chores (which sounds weird because who would like that haha), we would take the horses and have so much fun. She was an awesome cousin and so are you!!!! You are so strong and i miss and love you hope to see you soon:)

  7. onceamonth4 August 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    I completely understand how hard it is to write about stuff like this. I’m still struggling to figure out how to post about Dexter on our site. Writing posts like this gives everyone an opportunity to get to know you more. I wanna say thanks for sharing. Hopefully this helps me get up the courage to post about Dexter and spread the love —> “I hope it inspires people to cherish what you have before it’s gone. Face it, if you haven’t lost anyone close yet, you will. Life is bound to throw you for a loop, and sooner or later you will lose someone close. Just know that there are people out there that are going through the same thing and we are all in this together. ”

    Nice work little lady. Many hugs to you & your family!

    xo- kyla

    • andreaboehlke August 24, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      Kyla, it really was hard to post something like this, but I’m very glad that I did. I think what it is, and why it is so hard, is that we assume people don’t want to hear about our lost loved ones or it will come off as too sad or attention-seeking. I think it is quite the contrary, however. I would love to hear about Dexter and your experiences, because it helps me gain perspective on how other people cope. I wish I would have done stuff like this a long time ago, but instead I avoided bringing Jeri up and would keep everything to myself. I think this was the most unhealthy thing I could do and a major reason it took me so long to ‘get over her death’ if you will. It feels very rewarding to be able to celebrate her and get such a positive response from other people that still think about her. Know that people would probably be very receptive to you posting about Dexter and it might just touch people in a way that my blog may have touched you or others ❤ you!!!

  8. Paul August 24, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    Well done.

  9. Heart August 24, 2012 at 2:55 am #

  10. Entertainer August 24, 2012 at 4:15 am #

    Someone once told me after I lost one of the most important people of my life that I must keep sharing the stories and moments of the people I loved and lost because it will keep them alive for eternity. Your memories and this blog have done just that. Thank you for sharing such a lovely person.

    • andreaboehlke August 24, 2012 at 10:51 am #

      I think it is very important to do just that! I wish I would have done this earlier, but it’s never too late to share stories about someone who had such a deep impact on your life. I’m sorry you lost someone very close–it’s an experience like none other, but they do live on through our memories and stories.

  11. Gina Michaels August 25, 2012 at 4:34 am #

    Very well written. You can never go wrong when the truth comes from the heart and soul. I remember the funeral well. The church was so crowded and we had Alyssa in her wheelchair and your mom and dad both asked how she was. All I could think was, wow! (asking about her when i know where their daughter is) as the tears rolled down my face. I asked how they were and felt like an idiot, thinking how do you think they feel?! I’m a mother and sister and have not lost any but I do know that time will come. It’s been 11years since they told us Alyssa wouldn’t make it thru the winter but she’s still here. Not a day goes by that I don’t place myself in you’re parents place or in many of the other parents around here’s that have lost a child way before their time. Didn’t mean to go off on my own there but…….I wish you the best and don’t be surprised when those memories that have faded pop out with a scent or sound! Smile, laugh, cry they are all fantastic emotions! Cherish them!

    • andreaboehlke August 25, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

      Thanks for sharing, Gina. I think about your family a lot, and miss you guys! Amazing that Alyssa is still here ❤ I love that—"Smile, laugh, cry…they are all fantastic emotions" It's very true! xoxo

  12. Heidi Olson September 2, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    I still miss Jeri – after all this time, I haven’t forgotten her.

  13. Mike Soyka May 1, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    Hi Andrea, I just read your blog post about your sister (this is the first time I’ve seen your blog so I’m reading everything). First of all, hugs! I’m very sorry for your loss, and I want to say I empathize with you. I lost my older brother in 2002. He was 25. He was disabled (Spina Bifida and severe mental retardation). He lived in a group home. They had chores there based on developmental abilities. His chore was dishes. On July 31, 2002, he was doing dishes after dinner. He apparently was taking so long that one of the staff members went to check on him. They found him in front of the kitchen sink, foaming at the mouth. He’d had a grand mal seizure. He wasn’t known for seizures often. I think he’d only had one before and it was petite mal years before. They called 9-1-1. He was still alive while the paramedics loaded him into the ambulance, but by the time he got to the hospital (a 5-10 minute drive tops. And that’s not with emergency sirens, so probably less), he was gone. I think about him everyday. He was only 25, I was 22 at the time. I’m 33 now. For nearly 11 years, I’ve thought about him. So I know what you must go through. I don’t know why I just told you that story, but I do want you to know I’m here if you want to talk. A friend. And I won’t “fanboy” on you. If you need a friend. P.S. i’m in Survivor Whispers where I noticed you’re in too on Facebook. Look me up! I comment on nearly every post so it shouldn’t be hard to find me. I have two accounts. Most people in there know both are me: Mikey Kestrel (an alias for a game I play) or Mike Soyka (my real name). I’d be glad to have you as a friend and talk if you want.

  14. amanda lyneis July 11, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    I miss her everyday. We could have been sisters. You know because Jeri And Buck were going to get married. I see Sharla now and how much she looks and acts like Jeri. The only difference is the braids and a plaid shirt. Someday we will all be galloping threw the fields with Jeri again. I miss you little sis you are forever in my heart and I talk about you often when people ask me about my tattoo. It’s of the horse I know you are riding in heaven

    • andreaboehlke July 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

      I think about her all the time! I’m so glad other people are thinking of her, she was such a cool girl and I always wonder what she would be like today. I know we would all be great friends 🙂 She is proud of all of us, looking down at us and wanting us to remember her but not feel sad. Love you Amanda!

  15. Megan Murray May 11, 2017 at 3:54 am #


    I don’t even know if this is still active or if you will ever see this! I had no idea about your sister until tonight’s episode. Of course I had to google it immediately. I am so sorry for your loss and what you had to go through at such a young age. I’m 32 years old, and my dad (who was my world) died 7 years ago, so the grief from that was enormous. Then my sister died a year and a half ago, when she was 32. We were only 15 months apart. Again, the grief has been enormous. I’ve noticed a difference between losing my dad, and losing my sister in that the sibling bond often gets overlooked.In this particular case because my mom lost her child, so everyone worried about her. And your blog about how the two days of the year you let yourself tap into this place fits where I am about my dad, and where I am getting with my sister- birthdays, and the anniversary of the death are always so hard. Thank you for sharing your story, in a weird way it just helps to know that others have lost someone so young, though I sooo wish that wasn’t true for you. I’ve always said in terms of my dad, “I’m part of a club I never wanted to belong to.” And the same goes for my sister. It takes a lot of strength to keep going, but I think people like us recognize how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away from us.Lots of love to you xoxoxo

    • Andrea Boehlke May 11, 2017 at 6:35 pm #

      Hi Megan! Wow, I sort of forgot this blog existed, but I got notified via email about your comment. I am sorry for your losses. That’s so unbelievably tough, losing a dad and a sister:( I obviously completely relate to losing a family member young… and I don’t know about you, but when it happened to me, I would shut off whenever people would try to talk about it. It led to a lot of rough years in high school, and then everything was reopened in college when rumors went around that “I felt guilty because I killed my sister…” I had never really talked about what actually happened. I don’t think you really know how to process things at 15. But I can’t imagine being 25 is that much easier. Thank you for reaching out.. I’m surprised any of that made the edit last night, and it’s a little awkward because it was so long ago, but still hurts deeply. Time doesn’t necessarily heal anything completely. Like you said, you do find comfort knowing you’re not the only one to go through losing someone at a young age….I didn’t feel like I had that back then, even though my family was right in front of me. I guess I felt like nobody could understand just how close we were, and how completely pained I was. Again, thank you for reaching out and sharing your story. You seem like an extremely strong person, and remember it’s okay to feel sad. And it’s okay to hurt. I’m sure your dad and sister were incredible, incredible people. They are proud of you. So much love to you, a year and a half is no time at all, so I know how hard it is. Stay strong girl 🙂

  16. Trent Anderson (@TrentA1288) May 12, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    I watched the latest episode of Survivor and was so shocked to hear about your sister on the episode. I’m so so sorry and I can only imagine how hard it must be for you. I’ve been fortunate enough to never lose someone in my life but my best friend’s sister passed away when she was 12 and I remember how much hurt and pain she was in. I know the pain will never truly heal years and years after, but I hope you’re doing better. I have been reading all the comments and your post, and I feel touched hearing all of these beautiful stories about someone who untimely passed away. I don’t know Jeri but I can imagine how incredible she was and my heart goes out to you, your family and all the lives she touched. Over the years I’ve grown to love you on Survivor and I know you’re such a strong and positive person who personally inspires me to be a better person everyday and I just wanted to say thank you and send my condolescences and prayers. You probably won’t ever see this but regardless I wish you the best.

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