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I consider myself fairly good with grammar. Admittedly, that exercise in elementary school where you diagramed sentences, it is a foggy memory. But as someone who writes and speaks frequently in my professional capacities, I’d like to think I have a knack for picking the right words and stringing them together properly. When grading student papers, one of the pieces I’m always looking for is tense alignment. Truth be told, it’s something I even catch myself mixing up; pulling from multiple variations of the twelve tenses found in the English language in the same sentence. But right now, my world revolves around two tenses: past and present. In the past: Sarah was here. In the present: she is not here.
I keeping running into stark reminders of my dichotomous reality. Yesterday afternoon, it was the laundry. I walked by the laundry room and realized Sarah had laundry in both the washer and dryer. She is gone. But here in the present, sits her laundry, wet and starting to get that smell, and all I want to do is text her and tell her to move her laundry before she leaves for work.
I stumbled upon another rude reminder on her Facebook page. In the about section, it now reads, Lived in Aurora, CO. And it’s not like the jobs description section of someone’s Facebook profile where it may show a listing of past jobs you have had (worked) followed by your current occupation (works). No, it’s just a single line of text. So short. So cold. So definitive.
The real gut-punch one came when the USMC SSgt came by to deliver the official notification. He had a stack of papers and handed my mom and me each a copy of the report so we could follow along. That was two pages, not even front and back. Two, single-sided pieces of paper with locations, dates, and times just staring at me in black and white. There was a section of the report titled “circumstances” and it was descriptive text in all CAPS, summarizing the events that led to Sarah’s death. In my first quick scan of the two pages, I kept seeing the abbreviation SNM. The military alphabet soup is one I’m not overly familiar with and my mind couldn’t place what the letters meant. But before the SSgt started reading, he clarified: said named Marine. As he read the report aloud, he did make a point however, to use her name, LCpl Shepherd, in place of those three letters. It felt like a gesture of kindness–something to soften the blow. A reminder of the present tense. Sarah’s name can’t be taken away. It is her name. It isn’t just something she was named, as SNM implies.
I’ve been reading the notes and messages and visiting with people on the phone and stopping by the house, and I notice how some refer to Sarah in the past: “she was vibrant.” While others refer to Sarah in the present: “she is a bright spot in my life.”
It stings just a bit and the more I read about all the things she was, the more pronounced that line between past and present becomes. The professor side of me wants to turn on the “track changes” editing tool and fix it. But then I realize there isn’t anything wrong to be fixed with the words written. Grammatically, they are all correct.
But my heart isn’t good with grammar. So for now, to be able to breathe here, in the present, I suppose it’s okay to cross tenses. Sarah transcends both spaces: she was so many things to so many of us. And because of that, she is so much to all of us.
The future tense. I can’t see it right now. It isn’t part of my world. Technically, grammatically it exists. But I don’t know where or how to find it.24 Hours Since
It’s been almost 24 hours exactly since I learned the news.
That persistent and demanding pounding on the door. Drowsily rolling over and checking my ring video doorbell app to see who had the audacity to create such a commotion at 2am. Fully figuring it was Sarah, who had just lost her keys again. Instead, seeing a police officer standing at my front door. Throwing on whatever piece of clothing I could find and running downstairs. As I waited for Michael to disarm the alarm panel, two thoughts battled in my head. Sarah was dead or had been picked up for some stupid shit. Oh how I wanted, no needed, it to be the latter. The latter was recoverable from. The latter could be perhaps a DUI, which my brain zeros in on because it’s serious enough to warrant police showing up, right? But at the same time, my brain reminds me that Sarah was religious about not drinking and riding. The latter: stupid, yes; expensive, yes; an cause to give Sarah grief about, yes. Permanently ripping her out of my life like the former meant, no.
I’ve been in and out of sleep now since 9:30pm but somehow my body knew I wanted or needed to be awake at 10:30pm and 2am (24 hours roughly since the accident when she left this world and 24 hours since notification at my front door, respectively). I can’t quite figure out why other than this way of marking time is the only thing that feels like it makes sense. I’m failing to keep the days straight otherwise right now so I’m measuring time in 24 hour blocks since events.
These first 24 hours have been a blur. Lots of calls, messages and faces. The usual markers of the passage of a day–morning , noon, and night–all run together and I can’t carve them out as separate events in my head. We found out in the dark of the early morning. I didn’t want daylight to come because with the sunrise meant the end of the possibility that this was merely a dream. Then I didn’t want it to get dark again because that meant I had to go back upstairs. Get in bed. Be in the same physical space I last was where I was naive to the horror that was about to become my new normal.
In just about 11 hours from now, three Marines will be at my front door.
I’m dreading this one. I was the one on the phone with the US Marine Corps SSgt assigned to Sarah’s case, confirming a time for someone again to be standing at my front door. I know this is about process and protocol, I know this can’t be a task the US Marine Corps relishes, I know they want to be supportive. But somehow, picking a time and sending the SSgt a text message with my address, not unlike I’d send an invitation to a friend to come over for dinner and drinks, feels cruel. This event happens in less than 12 hours and has got to be one of the stranger, more jarring experiences, I anticipate. As it’s been explained to me, three uniformed Marines will be standing here (only doing it at my house because my mom, Sarah’s designated next-of-kin will be here) to read the official declaration from the Marine Corps to my mother. This won’t be new news to us.
How do you prepare for the worst news of your life, which by that point, you’d already be 36 hours into living, to be read to you again?
The next 24 hour block of time since receiving the formal notification from the US Marine Corps will tell.
Updated: 19:14 BST, 8 February 2012
It is one of the rarest conditions in the world, affecting just one in a billion people.
However, in an incredible quirk of fate, three sisters have all been blighted by a condition known as werewolf syndrome - where they are covered from head to foot in thick hair.
Savita, 23, Monisha, 18, and 16-year-old Savitri Sangli, who live in a small village near Pune, central India, inherited the hypertrichosis universalis disorder from their father.
All three struggle to keep the condition under control with cream and hope they one day might eventually be able to pay for specialist laser treatment to rid them of their excessive hair.Scroll down for video
Brave (from left to right): The lives of Savita, Monish and Savitri Sangli have been blighted by one of the rarest conditions in the world - werewolf syndrome
Genetic: The girls stand in front of a picture of their father with their mother (front middle) and two of their other sisters who are unaffected by the disorder
Despite the devastating effects of the syndrome, the siblings still dream of a day when they might get married.
Hypertrichosis universalis is a genetic mutation, in which cells that normally switch off hair growth in unusual areas, like the eyelids and forehead, are left switched on.
It means the girls have had abnormal hair growth on their bodies and even their faces, affecting their eyebrows, nose and giving them appearance of having a beard.
They must use a special cream every day - otherwise the hair will quickly return. The youngest sister Savitri is still virtually covered in hair.
One in a billion: The sisters, pictured with their mother, inherited the condition from their father
Documentary filmmaker Sneh Gupta is planning make a film of the girls in a bid to help their dream of becoming almost hair free - with the eventual aim of finding marriage
The girl's mother Anita Sambhaji Raut has six daughters in total with only three having werewolf syndrome.
The condition was passed down by the girls' father, who Anita was forced to marry aged at the age of 12.
Because theirs was an arranged marriage and she did not lay eyes on him until the wedding day, she had no idea he was suffering from the condition himself.
Anita and her daughters are now desperate to fund laser surgery that will help to finally remove the curse of excess hair and allow the girls to lead normal lives.
Hopes: The girls dream of marriage and a day when they might be hair-free
In their small village near Pune, central India, the Sangli have little prospects for marriage and the eldest Savita sometimes gets sent home from work when her hair begins to show.
Laser surgery would cost 350,000 Indian rupees - or £4,500 per girl - but the family are not wealthy enough to be able to afford it.
Now documentary filmmaker Sneh Gupta is planning make a film of the girls in a bid to help their dream of becoming almost hair free - with the eventual aim of finding marriage.
Mum Anita, 40, said her husband - who died in 2007 and whose portrait hangs in the family home - also suffered from werewolf syndrome.
Anita was being looked after by her uncle and auntie as her parents had passed away and they told her if she didn't marry this man they would kill her off.
She said: 'It was only on the day of my marriage that I discovered what he was, (he) was hairy on his face, ears and body, that's when I found out.
'I was very young, I didn't know what kind of boy he was, he scared the hell out of me when he arrived at the altar. He's the groom, I am the bride, I had no idea what all that meant.
'I was only 12 when they forced me into marriage, and if you don't agree to marriage as a girl they will kill you off.
'I asked my mother-in-law why my daughters were born like this and she told me because their father is like this, at the time (as a baby) my daughter had little hairs all over her face.
'When I used to take her (Savita) out as a child, they used to shout here comes the beast, the witch, that's what they said.
'They keep her at work now for 10 to 15 days, and then after that they ask her to leave as soon as the hair starts showing through, that's what they do.
'I tell people this is the type of girl she is, hair grows on her face, she has to apply medicine, we must be honest with everybody.'
In the village society a woman does not have much prospects if she is not married and mum Anita explained she was still trying to get her daughters a man.
She said: 'If a good proposal comes in, I'll get her married. If nothing comes in she'll have to work and survive. As long as I am living I have to keep trying.'
Eldest daughter Savita, who now using a cream to try and combat her hair growth, said: 'When I used to go to school the boys and the girls would shout, 'hairy face', 'horrible looking', 'don't sit next to her', that's how they behaved.
'Marriage is not an option for us, it's not likely to happen, who is going to marry us when hair keeps growing on our faces.'Share or comment on this article Most watched News videos MOST READ NEWS
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3 of the 6 Sangli sisters of India are afflicted with Werewolf Syndrome, also known as Hypertrichosis or Ambras Syndrome. This is a condition that is so rare, it affects about 1 in a billion people on the planet. Werewolf syndrome is characterized by abnormal and excessive hair growth on the body. It’s a genetic mutation, in which cells that usually inhibit hair growth are left “switched on.” The Sangli Sisters, residing in central India, acquired their hypertrichosis from their father.
The three Sangli sisters who have werewolf syndrome – Savita (23 years old), Monisha (18 years old), and Savitri (16 years old), are forced to use special creams each day, or else their hair regrows very fast. Their mother hopes to fund laser removal surgery for them, but the cost of such surgery is currently out of reach (about $7,000 per person). Their mother recalls the day she was forced to marry when she was only 12 years old, not knowing about her husband’s affliction until the day of the wedding.
Documentary filmmaker Sneh Gupta wants to make a movie featuring the Sangli sisters, who hope to become free of their werewolf syndrome so they can eventually get married.
Click thumbnails for larger:
Other people besides the Sangli sisters who suffer from werewolf syndrome include Julia Pastrana, who was a sideshow performer in the 19th century, Supatra Sasuphan, a Thai girl who in 2011 was named world’s hairiest girl by Guinness, and the famous family of Burma, of which the disease spanned 4 generations.
Sources: Ripleys Believe it or Not!, Daily Mail
1801 - 1851 Meherban Shrimant Chintamanrao Pandurangrao Maharaj Patwardhan [Appa Sahib], Chief of Sangli. b. at Miraj, 1776, second son of Meherban Shrimant Sardar Pandurangrao Govindrao Patwardhan, 4 th Chief of Miraj, educ. privately. Succeeded on the death of his childless elder brother as 6 th Chief of Miraj in 1782 - see India Non-Salute (Miraj Senior). Formally recognised and invested by the Peshwa, 6 th February 1783. Reigned under the regency of his uncle, Gangadharrao. A distinguished soldier who fought many battles from an early age, he entered the Peshwa's service and commanded the Miraj Cavalry which served with the British against Tipu Sultan in 1790. Served with distinction against the Nizam at Khuda in 1795, and in the campaign against Dhondia Waugh in 1800. Granted a personal salute of 13-guns by the British authorities, 25 th July 1800. On returning from his campaigns, he found his uncle had assumed full control over the family jagirs and refusing to yield control although he was now of age. Angered by this presumption, he seized control of the family idol and left Miraj to settle elsewhere. He founded a new capital at Sangli in 1801, and began to establish his own authority over a significant portion of the family domains. His uncle eventually secured his own title to Miraj from the Peshwa in 1808, the separation being agreed between the parties in the Treaty of Pandharpur of 1812 and confirmed by the British authorities in 1817. Chintamanrao concluded a separate treaty with the HEIC 5 th May 1819. He offered his personal services in Persia in 1838 and in Afghanistan in 1839, and served in putting down the Samangad revolt in 1844. Presented with a sword of honour in appreciation of his loyalty, by Colonel Reeves, at Belgaum, 15 th November 1846. Founder of the Ganapati Panchayatan Sansthan Temple in honour of the family deity 1811-1844. He also founded the first printing press in 1821, promoted gold mining, sugar cane production, the silk and marble industries, and encouraged "peth" communities to promote commerce and trade. He d. at the Ganesh Durga Palace, Sangli, 15 th July 1851, having had issue, four sons:
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