Lessons from a Murdered NotMom: Live Your Life

A longtime acquaintance was murdered at the Oliver House Apartments last May. Thousands will remember her for the very best of reasons. With or without kids, legacy is all about you.

Lately my mind keeps returning to the latest “first” in my life: I’m sad to say that for the first time, someone I liked a great deal has been murdered.

MURDERED.  The word belongs on the news somewhere, not my blog post about a good woman gone too soon. But, of course, the word, and my friend’s name, has been on the news too much lately.

Her name was Sharon Norfus.  You may know someone like her in your life. Primarily, I knew her as the best MAC make-up stylist ever to grace Beachwood's Saks Fifth Avenue. She taught as well as she applied her skills, leaving every woman in her seat believing she had the talent to re-create her new look at home. I compare Sharon’s expertise to what it must be like if What Not to Wear‘s Stacy London worked on my closet.

I connected with Sharon at Saks regularly for years, and “connected” is truly a fitting verb.  Even a quick stop purchase became a two-way conversation as I caught up on her mother’s health and shared my own news. Her sunny disposition applied to beauty and Life in general, mine and hers, too.

Sharon was widely known for behind-the-scenes styling that made many theatrical performers look better than they had a right to shine. I’d run into her over the years through my work as professional communicator as she often partnered with photographers and videographers.  At random shoots and locales, we’d laugh at the happenstance of the meeting.

So, like I said, she was murdered. 

I found out weeks after the fact, casually reading a story about how the cops had arrested some guy for a murder.  You know. The same headline that appears across the country every freakin’ day. Honestly, I can’t say why I was reading the piece all the way through in the first place.  Nothing special drew me to it, certainly no photo of Sharon with her can’t-miss-it silver hair.

The realization that I actually knew this murder victim was a gradual dawning across my psyche, then a warp-speed race to bug-eyed acceptance of horror. I started reading the article again from the top, then wished I hadn’t.

Sharon died of strangulation in her Shaker Heights apartment. A 20 y/o suspect is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, rape, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and six other offenses.

Ooh. TMI.

Then comes another reason to love the Internet: digital Guest Books. Most are accessible for at least a year after the death. Dozens, if not hundreds of women left messages similar to mine, and we each described ourselves the same way: “just a customer.”

The obituary surprised me with what I didn’t know: energetic and youthful Sharon was 60 years old. And, she was a NotMom, “survived by” a mother, sister, goddaughter and more.

Several times since I learned of Sharon’s death, my breath catches when I apply concealer and remember how she taught me to dab it just so only with my baby finger. At my annual visit with the ophthalmologist, I remembered how time and again Sharon urged me to go ditch my glasses and go back to contacts. I may do it, too.

The point, I suppose, is the same as in an earlier post, when I noted that nobody cares that Marilyn Monroe didn’t have kids. Everyone wants to be remembered after they die.  We’ve been schooled since childhood that children are the guarantee. They carry the memories, the name, the blood.

I know like I know like I know: How you live your life is what shapes how you’re remembered. Are you the bitch of the workplace or somebody who shares their lunch? Loyal or selfish? Lift up or tear down? It’s that basic. This time it really is all about you. For all the marbles.

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Karen Malone Wright June 26, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Thanks for the cyberhug, Richard!
tomcody July 11, 2012 at 04:04 PM
..she looks like a very dynamic, personable person, in CHARGE of her life. so sad that this happened, unfortunately it happens all too often in all too many places..!!..
Kate Bigam July 11, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Sounds like Sharon was a wonderful person. May her memory live on in those who knew, appreciated, & loved her - and may the person who did this to her see a long life behind bars to think about the beautiful life he ended.
Lakeisha Winstead July 15, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Unfortunately I just heard of Sharon’s passing yesterday. I couldn’t believe it as I walked into the Saks M.A.C and asked for her and the young woman told me she was murdered. I never knew Sharon personally, but those few moments I was helped by her changed me. I met her back in January of this year. She truly took her time with me and other customers that were there. She gave me helpful beauty tips that I have used ever since. I even shared the beauty knowledge she had given me with a friend of mine. Her spirit will truly be missed.
Karen Malone Wright July 15, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Everyone's comments have been like little hugs for me, and Sharon, too. Now, I'm sending our hugs to Lakeisha. Her comments make me think of a new-school "It's a Wonderful Life." Truly, this one "little makeup artist" rippled out to affect many other lives.


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