This morning I learned that one of my cousins took her life. I don’t lay claim to being one of her best friends or even close friends, but she was a friend to me just as any, whether distant or close, and we did share kin, and roamed around Granddaddy Duck’s land as children back when that was a gathering place for my dad’s side of the family.
During our teenage years, she often hitched her wagon up to “the Phenix crew” and stayed many a night at the cabin where Anti-Lou practiced. Unlike now, during those days people didn’t carry around a camera on their being in the form of a smartphone; but the pictures that do exist, in many you can find Shauna in the background next to Brandon or Dustin or TC or someone else, and her smile is as big as day.
But I am not writing the eulogy of a friend or a relative. I am not the person to do that. Suicide oftentimes leaves questions unanswered. This life can be so cruel and for some so short. What I remember of Shauna is her wide smile and bright eyes and when the two joined together. I can’t tell you any anecdotal tales of youth. I can, however, tell you how loud she was, because boy could she be loud; and I do not say this in a mean way but in an affectionate way. That was just Shauna. That’s part of who she was and part of what people loved about her.
What I want to share, though, are no words of my own. I want to share a little piece of Shauna’s heart. That is what I have in my email archive.
Years ago, following my father’s death and prior to the second annual Candy Cane Classic 5K race Team Bullfrog was to put on in his and Jeremiah’s memory, Shauna wrote a series of emails to me. While some have been deleted, a couple still exist. Much of what she wrote to me was deeply personal and I will not share it in full because an audience outside of me was never her intention. I read in her words a comfort knowing she could tell me what she did, in private, and that there was no judgment from me.
What I will share in excerpt are her own words that for me, on this day when she is no longer here, reveal her caring soul and who she was underneath all of life’s trials and tribulations. Words in bold are my emphasis because they struck a chord then as they do now:
Hey, and thanks for getting back to me so quickly. This is actually the first time I have checked my e-mail since I e-mailed you, but anyway I cannot believe Travis [Copeland] passed away and I never even heard about it. That is so incredibly sad . . .
And I don’t mean to bring this to mind if you don’t want it there at the moment but I tell you one thing, you may have lost your Father to the Lord this year, but you know where he is and from what I have heard and from what you have written, you have some awesome memories and experiences with your Dad as does your mom, sister, and other family members. He was truly an awesome person, father, husband, son, etc. . .
You are just so lucky and you will be with your father and others you loved and have passed on quicker than you think and so will I. Compared to eternity, life is only a second of time is the way I look at it. I know I can’t wait to be with my Granny again in heaven. I lost my Granny (10/2001) to cancer, as you may or may not remember, so I wish you and the rest of Team Bullfrog much success now and for the future. I truly believe her and my mom to be the greatest women to walk the face of this earth during my time here. I am sure you feel the same way about your grandma and mother.
But, in the meantime you have good grandparents, an incredibly funny and beautiful mother, a beautiful wife to spend all your time with, and an awesome sister as well. Hopefully you will soon have some little ones one day too. They can really drive you crazy all too often, but will make you happier than anything or anyone else in this world . . .
I don’t mean to go on and on, but I think of you and your family often and the extreme loss you suffered this year, but oh how blessed you truly are. It feels good to talk about this . . . So thanks for listening, if you made it this far, and sorry if I bored you . . .
I did not know that the race was cancelled either, . . . due to the fact that your e-mail clearly said: “The race is on rain or shine… or snow.”
I betcha you had no idea we would end up with a foot of snow on the ground? I honestly wasn’t sure if we would ever get snow like that again, actually, but we did and it was really nice.
Anyway, has the race been re-scheduled yet? . . . Don’t feel obligated to e-mail me back or anything. Just let me know when you let everyone else know, okay, and thanks again for getting back with me about Travis [Copeland]. I still just can’t believe it.
God Bless You Man!!!
With luv from your cuz,
May you find your Granny in Heaven, Shauna, and may your family on earth find peace of mind and joy in the memories you left behind. And if you bump into my dad, tell him I said hello — and that he is now a grandpa twice over.
If what you just read touched you in any way, help others find it on the web. I’m no longer on Facebook, but if you still are, consider sharing it there. You can also copy and paste the link in the url above and send it to friends and family by text and email.
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, point them to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or to their online chat (free), or to an area counselor. Keep your friends and family close. You never know what they may be experiencing, whether they are showing signs or not. Often the happiest of us are hiding the darkest of thoughts.
Written by Jeffrey Pillow, author of the coming-of-age memoir in progress When the Lights Go Out at 10:16, which you can read on this blog as it’s being written. When the Lights Go Out at 10:16 is a story of growing up in small town America in the 1980’s in a teeny tiny town known as Phenix, in Charlotte County, Virginia. It is a story of life and friendship in the face of terminal cancer. Want to read more blog posts? Visit the blog archive. You can also subscribe to this blog to receive updates of new posts by email. Or, follow me on Twitter (I just re-joined).