Friday, August 1, 2014

Family and friends remember and mourn for Sheena and Chris Henderson

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 3:06 PM

click to enlarge Family and friends remember and mourn for Sheena and Chris Henderson
Young Kwak
Gary Kennison and his wife, Karri, share a moment of silence for their daughter, Sheena Henderson, and her husband, Chris, at a vigil in their honor.

She knew each of the cancer patients she cared for by name. She had a way of putting them at ease. 

He had a great sense of humor. Even when he was having a bad day, he tried to make his co-workers at the call center laugh. 

In the last few hours of daylight, dozens have gathered beneath the picnic shelter at Franklin Park on Thursday to remember Sheena Henderson — a bright and bubbly redhead, doting mother, and phlebotomist whom patients requested by name — and her husband, Chris, a man who didn't spare an opportunity to tell his friends how much he loved his wife.  This is how we should remember them, Chaplain Ed Hoffman from the Spokane Police Department says, "for all the days before."

"It's about hope, help, healing and largely, it's about forgiveness," Hoffman says. "We need to offer forgiveness." 

On the morning of July 8, Chris walked into Rockwood Cancer Treatment Center, where Sheena worked, with a loaded gun. He shot Sheena multiple times before killing himself. Chris' mental health had been deteriorating for months. Since her murder, Sheena's family has contacted local lawmakers, the Governor's office and the President. They say the system failed them. They never want something like this to happen again.

click to enlarge Family and friends remember and mourn for Sheena and Chris Henderson
Young Kwak
Gary Kennison (right) and his son Gary Kennison, Jr., Sheena Henderson's twin brother, embrace after the vigil.

One by one, friends and colleagues move to the front of the crowd to share their memories. 

Staci Vail pulls a navy-blue cap from her head. Vail has metastasized cancer that's spread to her lungs and lymph nodes. 

"She used to draw my blood. All I can say is that she made cancer better."

Vel Samoukovic was a former co-worker of Chris' at West Corporation call center.

"He was a very gentle person. I'll never forget his candor. I hope I can pass that on."

Wendy Nielsen would have been Sheena's sister-in-law.

"When she welcomed me into her life and gave me her blessing, that made my life expand in ways I never knew. She made me laugh and smile and she will always be the sister I never got to know, never had growing up."

Gary Ackerman didn't know Chris very well, but he'll never forget that morning, at the start of his shift, the day his team was told about the shooting. They were struck speechless. 

"To the family, our hearts are so with you," he says. "We are so broken. Our team — we are so broken."

You can donate to the Sheena Henderson Memorial Fund to help care for Sheena and Chris' children at any Wells Fargo Bank. 

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Deanna Pan

Deanna Pan is a staff writer at the Inlander, where she covers social justice, state politics and health care. In her cover stories, she's written about mass shooting survivors, NGRI patients and honey bees...