A childhood friend of mine passed away last weekend. He had cystic fibrosis so it wasn't an incredible shock yet I guess I never thought that it would happen before either of us turned 30. We haven't kept in touch much for several years (I guess that is what happens when you marry and move to a different continent!) but he was so much a part of my childhood, teenage years and after. I even lived with Shaun and his mom Mary for a summer after I completed a year at Bryan college! So many memories, I can't even describe what I'm feeling now. It's like the "good ol' days" are officially over. Really so much of what I'm feeling is all about me because the truth is, Shaun is sitting at the feet of our Savior! His pain has ended (and his 28 years contained a lot of suffering) and if there was a chance he could feel sadness at this moment it would be pity for us wishing that he were still here! What silly, silly people we are is what I'm guessing he would say.
Missing his funeral is absolutely killing me (it was Thursday). I've never wanted to be back home so badly! Which kind of surprises me. I guess I'd really like to grieve with others who knew Shaun and had him as a part of their life as well. To be with people who know what he contributed to this world and what earth is missing now that he's gone. Perhaps that's normal, I'm not sure. Truth is, I've been spared so much suffering that I've never had to deal with a death of someone close to me before.
Honestly I didn't want to write a sad post about how miserable I'm feeling knowing that I'll have to live the rest of my earthly life without a good friend! But more about some of the great memories that I do have of Shaun (and there are a lot of them!)
All of my childhood pictures are stored away in TN so the only picture I have of us is one that my mom sent me last week (I think she included it on a slideshow or something at the funeral....lucky me:-)
And really that picture symbolizes so much of who Shaun was. I haven't met many people who seemed so unconcered by what other people thought of him and he definitely wasn't afraid to be himself.
Many of my memories are of times when Shaun was in the hospital and I was able to go visit for a morning or afternoon. Of course I was only allowed to go when he wasn't in a lot of pain so growing up I know I didn't comprehend how much he suffered. To be completely honest I was sometimes jealous of the amount of attention he received (perhaps being the oldest of 9 had something to do with that:-) and even prayed a time or two for some illness that would stick me in the hospital. Then Shaun could come see ME, I could introduce HIM to the nurses and we could play whatever Nintendo game I wanted to play in the rec room (on the pediatrics floor.) As I grew older it became more apparent to me how much he and Mary experienced on a daily basis. Now that I'm a mom I truly can't comprehend what it would be like to watch my child be in almost constant pain and not be able to do much to relieve that pain. Nobody could have been a better mom than Mary was to him!
So, one of my memories that took place in a hospital was when Shaun had this great idea to have some fun with the medical tape (the clear stuff.) We cut tiny strips and then made wrinkles in our faces and stuck the tape over them. We did this to our entire face creating wrinkles and indentions. I cannot tell you how hilarious it looked! I really wish I had a picture of it. We decided to walk through the pediatric ward showing off our new faces to the hospital staff but not before blowing up rubber gloves (not tying them off) and then stretching them over the end of our shoes (so that it looked like we had webbed feet.) I think I laughed too hard to notice if the nurses laughed or not!
Then one time we went to the rec room, probably to play Nintendo. Well, I sat down in a big plastic chair. You know, the kind that dip down in the middle? Unfortunately some child had decided to relieve himself/herself in that exact chair (with 15 or more in the room) so I stood up with somebody else's pee running down my legs. I know, it was so gross. And even though I didn't think it was too funny at the time seeing Shaun laugh at me as we walked back to his room made it a memory I'll never forget. He was kind enough to lend me a pair of his jean shorts though, so perhaps that made up for his uncontrolled laughter.
This post would end up being way too long if I wrote down half of the memories I have of Shaun so I'll limit to just a few more from when we were older.
When I lived with Shaun and Mary for a summer he spent a lot of time showing me different things related to technology. Lots of stuff on the computer that I totally didn't understand (he was amazing with computers!) He was the first one to show me what a "DVD" was...I was so impressed. I don't remember how long he spent explaining and showing me on the tv how it worked with the menu, etc but I do remember asking tons of a questions! I was in awe. I think he enjoyed teaching somebody as naive as myself:-) And a lot of the times we hung out took place late at night when he couldn't sleep. Now that I'm older and have experienced mild sleep deprivation I can only now begin to understand what he experienced night after night! And on many of those nights we spent a lot of time watching the QVC shopping network. I had always wondered who watched those things. Shaun got a kick out of them and now I think I'm doomed to enjoy them myself for the rest of my life.
Another thing I'll never forget is how much of a big brother (big brother by a whole 3 months) he was towards me the summer I lived with them. A guy that I had been head over heals for unknowlingly did something hurtful to me and Shaun was ready to go beat him up! I loved that. I had always wanted an older brother that would protect me and there was a need within me that was filled by Shaun's protectiveness.
After so many years and memories it is such a blessing to know that I'll get to join Shaun in eternity one day. And it'll be a Shaun that I didn't know since he will be free (is free) to live without physical pain. Now I really do have something to be jealous of!