Memorial created 07-7-2008 by
Cerridwyn "Kerry" Maire Ursula Brigid Roseanne Lujan
May 17 1989 - May 20 2008
This online memorial was created in loving memory of Cerridwyn "Kerry" Lujan, whose life story is told throughout this memorial website. Please sign Kerry's guest book and let us know you came to visit. We will remember Kerry forever.
My beautiful daughter Kerry was taken from us in a double hit-and-run accident on May 20, 2008, three days after her 19th birthday. There is a news story at http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/16337151/detail.html . The first driver to hit her turned himself in 10 hours after the fact, though his attorney argued that this had nothing whatsoever to do with the extensive media coverage that had started first thing that morning. No, his attorney successfully argued that this driver suffers from some mysterious genetic disorder that made him too stupid and/or incompetent to behave responsibly when he hit Kerry and drove away. He was sentenced to 4 years DEFERRED, 4 years concurrent probatiion, 4 MONTHS of ankle monitoring, some community service and he has to re-pay Colorado Victims' Services what they paid me in lost wages. He didn't even lose his license.
What is worse is that we know nothing at all about the second driver. S/he isn't taking responsibility for their crime and although it seems very likely that someone somewhere knows something, they have so far not come forward. Suffice it to say that I have nothing but contempt for anyone who could drive off and leave a fellow human being to die on the highway like roadkill. Kerry has received no justice in this world. All I can hope is that her killers will have to answer for their behavior at the end of their present incarnations.
Kerry herself was a kind, compassionate girl who was a pre-nursing major at Metro State College in Denver, Colorado. I think it speaks volumes about her that at 19 she had signed up to be an organ donor. She and I shared a very close relationship and talked to each other almost every day, even though I had moved to New Mexico to take a new job a year ago. One of the most painful things that I deal with on a daily basis is the realization that I can't just call her up and tell her about what I just saw or the joke I just heard.
She also was very close to her two brothers, Josh and Eli, even though they are respectively 11 and 9.5 years older than her. Her father was not part of her life, but her big brothers did their best to fill that role and give her support, praise, advice and the occasional chewing out. Eli took her to concerts and she liked to spend weekends with Josh and his family.
She never got to meet him during her life, but she also has a brother, Jacque, on her father's side. Although they never met face to face during Kerry's life, they talked often on the phone and developed as strong a relationship as possible via their phone calls. That Jacque and his mom drove 16 hours to be at Kerry's funeral bears testimony to this. Their father wasn't part of either of their lives, but they were grateful to have each other for love and support. Kerry was so happy to find out that she had another niece, Hannah, and before too long, still another niece: Scarlett. I am so sorry that she never got to meet her wonderful brother and his family.
She adored Josh's children: her niece, Rianna and her nephew Cade and it was certainly mutual. Announcements that Aunt Kerry was coming over were always met with loud cheers from the kids. It broke my heart when Cade, who was three when Kerry died, kept asking when Aunt Kerry was coming back.
Kerry started playing the piano at age 8, then switched to violin at age 11; she played around a little with guitar, too. She was in the orchestra for both middle school and high school and loved music. She liked just about every kind of music there is: from rock to country, from Sinatra to Bollywood - she enjoyed it all.
Dance was something else she really enjoyed. She began ballet at age 4 and continued it up until she was 11. She also did tap for most of that time. In addition to ballet and tap, at various times she did modern dance, jazz dance, pow wow dancing, garland dancing, belly dancing and East Indian (India) dance. She also did gymnastics in 4th and 5th grades and ice-skated in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. I remember her as a teen dancing around the living room, singing "I Like to Move It Move It" - and in her case, I think it was the literal truth!
She was also really talented in math and science. She went to the National American Indian Science and Engineering Fair in both 8th grade and 10th grade and both times took first place in her grade and category. In 8th grade she did a math project that demonstrated how infinity comes in different sizes and in 10th grade, she had gotten a mentor in the chemistry department at the University of Colorado and did a chemistry project entailing mass spectrometric analysis of the salicylate content of organically grown vs commercially grown vegetables.
She was a budding poet and songwriter and I am just amazed at the poetry that she wrote. Here is a villanelle of hers that I recently found on the computer:
Ah! Sweet lovers kissing in the park at sunset
You fill my heart with happiness and joy
The world will always be yours, don’t forget
Your sensual mouths glistening with wet
Young actors, experts at playing coy
Thanking your lucky stars that you’ve met
These moments are yours, like this sunset
Don’t let this Girl get away, Boy
You haven’t made your love official yet
Her hair weaves around you like a loving net
The feeling you get around her is pure joy
Like she’s your personal sunrise and sunset
Write the young woman at your side a sonnet
Tell her that to you her love is your alloy
And then say she’s someone you’ll never forget
Oh! Sweet young love expressing itself at sunset
Filling each others hearts with unexplainable joy
Thanking your lucky stars that you’ve met
But don’t forget, she’s your sunrise and sunset.
She was an amazing good cook and had thought at one point that she might want to be a chef. She decided against culinary school, but she still enjoyed cooking and there were very few foods she didn't like. Her very favorite thing (incredibly enough!) was ramen noodles with butter and garlic, but she also really liked curry (really anything from India!) and Mexican/New Mexican food. And let's not forget frybread!
Kerry was an enrolled member of the Ho Chunk Nation in Wisconsin and very proud of being Native. She pow wow danced when she was in middle school and although I wish she had continued beyond that, it was her choice to dance or not. She always participated in the Transform Columbus Day activities in Denver and was part of Boulder Valley School District's American Indian Youth Leadership Institute.
She was introduced to astronomy via the "Space Camp" that NASA puts on for Native high school kids every summer in Flagstaff, AZ and came home from that completely stoked on the cosmos. She began volunteering at the Fiske Planetarium on campus at the University of Colorado and was particularly interested in the sky lore of indigenous people. She loved hearing the star stories of not only Native American cultures but of Australian aborigines as well.
Reading was another of Kerry's passions. She read The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy when she was about 9 and we were lucky enough to go to a talk and booksigning that Douglas Adams gave at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver when (I think) she was 10. (I hope that she and Mr. Adams get to have some good conversations in the spirit world.) She also loved the works of Christopher Moore, Sherman Alexie and Terry Pratchett and had some autographed copies of their books. She had a cherished autographed copy of Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera that we got at the Indigenous Peoples' Film Festival in Denver. She had been reading Water for Elephants at the time of her death - it was one of the things I found when I had to go through her personal effects. Funny how I can't remember many of the huge stack of books that were in her room when I went through her stuff and I'm a big reader, too. I gave most of her books to her friends because I had to fly home and just couldn't take all those books with me. My girl sure loved to read though.
She loved the paintings of Claude Monet. When she was a little girl, at one time or another we had checked out every book in the children's section about Monet and his art and she had a video called Linnea in Monet's Garden (about a little girl who goes to Monet's home - now a museum - in France) that she watched a lot. She also had the book. When she got to be middle school aged I bought a membership at the Denver Art Museum and she would always linger in the Impressionist section where they - of course - had some Monet paintings.
Kerry was an outdoor enthusiast. One of the things I feel bad about is how little money we had when she was young and how I usually couldn't afford the parking fee in the recreation areas where we lived. But when I could I would take her hiking or camping and she loved it. She carried that love into adulthood. She particularly liked to hike on Mount Sanitas with her friends. That was where we scattered her ashes because I wanted her to be someplace that she loved. I started rock climbing this year and enjoy it very much. I had asked Kerry if she would like to learn to climb. She enthusiastically said that she would and I had signed her up for a class that she would have started June 2nd. Sadly she never got to take that class. I am sad for her that she never got the experience of climbing and sad for me because I was very much looking forward to climbing with her.
The guy who ran her down took so much from us all. Kerry never got to finish her life: never got to graduate, get married, have kids. Never got to travel to the places she wanted to see, never got to learn to do the things she wanted to learn to do. She wanted so much to see her brother get married to his girlfriend. They got married on August 8, 2009 and although a small memorial table was set up for her, Kerry didn't get to be the bridesmaid that she had hoped to be at the wedding. We missed her then as we will miss her at every Thanksgiving and Christmas and every family event that the future holds. We won't get to go to her wedding and I will never hold her children. And we will never go climbing together.
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