Creative, free-spirit, strong, loyal, loving, tough, compassionate
To say Sarena was one of a kind would be a vast understatement. She consumed life wholeheartedly and with vigor. She was loud, gregarious, and fun. Sarena had to be seen and heard; she made sure of it. People were drawn to her alluring personality, and she was constantly surrounded by friends. You never knew what excitement she might bring with her, which made her interesting and lovable. She was funny and stubborn and “impossible to say no to,” her mom, Jesse, stated. She and her brother Chad were polar opposites. “He is as chill and relaxed as she was headstrong,” Jesse said. They loved being silly together.
Sarena was dynamic, vibrant, energetic and always on the go. She loved to dance and was in jazz, tap, ballet and hip hop. She illuminated the stage. Sarena loved diamonds and bling. She was a glam girl who walked into a room like a movie star. She wanted to be famous. One might think she was only into having fun, but Sarena also had a very strong work ethic, usually having more than one job at a time. She loved earning money and excelled at every job she had.
Sarena loved taking vacations with her parents and brother. The family spent time at Rehoboth Beach and camping at Cooper’s Rock and drove on the beaches. Sarena also loved to express herself with hair and makeup. In middle school, she dyed her hair black, then purple. Oblivious to the mess she left in the bathroom, she was on to the next thing. The carpet in her bedroom still shows the makeup stains left from her efforts to apply the perfect makeup and lashes. “She always looked great,” her mom stated.
Problems started when she began dating boys. A boyfriend was physically and mentally abusive to her and life got a little crazy. At 19, Sarena moved away from home to Ocean City to work for the summer. It was there that she started hanging out with some questionable people. Her mom noticed a change and thought she may be exhibiting a mental illness. Sarena was admitted to the hospital where she tested negative for any drugs other than marijuana. She was prescribed anti-psychotic meds which she chose not to take.
Things settled down a little when, at 20, she moved to Pittsburg, lived with her beloved fraternal grandparents, Nana and PeePop, and enrolled in cosmetology school. She did great, went to church every Sunday. Sarena had accepted the Lord into her life and her maternal grandmother Janet had baptized her. Sarena read her Bible every day.
Sarena had just earned her cosmetology license, had two jobs and a car, and moved out of her grandparents’ home when she told her mom she was reconnecting with an old boyfriend. Jesse was horrified and worried and encouraged her to stop seeing him. Sarena texted the next day and said she was scared. That was the last time they communicated. Sarena died on the same date as her Uncle Chad, who she had always felt a connection to.
“Sarena was the strongest person I know, physically and mentally,” Jesse said. ‘She was a determined person with a beautiful heart. I miss what a girly-girl she was. I miss hearing about her life, her friends, her fashion. I miss having a daughter and the sweetness when she called me “mommy.”
Sarena’s mother, Jesse Spence, provided the information for this narrative.
June 4, 1998-November 6, 2020-Age 22
Portrait Artist: Shawn Faust
Narrative Writer: Barbara Francois