My heart is being weighed down by so many different emotions right now. I'm not sure if I can even put it all into words, but right now my need to write about it is so overwhelming. Our circles of friends have suffered so many losses in the 16 years since I graduated. We've have had drug overdoses, car accidents, heart attacks and other tragic accidents. It's been a few years since we've all had to come together to mourn one of our own.
My morning was shaken with news that has caused a hurricane of unexpected emotions. I don't know where to start because her story is so sad and tragic, it could be the basis of a Lifetime movie. We met in high school and quickly became friends because our boyfriends were thick as thieves. We were never up to any good either. Back then it was Countrytime Lemonade and tequila. We cruised the back roads of Alpharetta, usually looking for our hell raising men.
Shannon and Philip were a fixture in our lives. They came to the hospital when Beelay was born. They were a constant in Beelay's life. I have a vivid memory of her being barely 2 years old, down on her hands and knees picking up change in the driveway with Philip. And him teaching her to sing "Money, money, money"....and swinging on the swing set together. They were at our house every weekend and often during the week.
When they got engaged it was no surprise when she asked me to stand as her bridesmaid along side her little sister as her maid of honor. It was an honor that I was never able to fulfill. I'll never forget that day. It was Nov. 1, 2000. I woke up to a message on my answering machine from Shannon saying to call her as soon as I got the message, that it didn't matter what time. I have no idea what time it was when she called, but when I called her back; her step-mom answered the phone and the words that came out of her mouth brought me to my knees. "Philip was killed last night while riding 4-wheelers." I had never been so affected by someone's words in my life.
One week to the day before they were supposed to get married, we buried Philip. Devastated doesn't even begin to describe Shannon's pain. I won't lie and say that their relationship was perfect, it wasn't. But their relationship was her EVERYTHING!! Her grief was palpable. I tried to comfort her as best I could, but I was at a loss. I had no idea how to help her...I was 22 years old and had no experience or idea how any one of us was supposed to move past this kind of tragedy.
When Shannon turned to going out and partying it up to keep her mind off it...I judged her. Looking back now, I can't say I wouldn't have done the same thing. But at the time I was married with a 2 year old and I just couldn't relate. We grew apart a little bit at a time. Eventually we lost touch all together. Until after my divorce. I had been rear-ended and her dad owned a body shop and she'd been on my mind a lot...soooo I stopped in to see her dad and see how Shannon was doing. Only to be surprised by the fact that she was there, working for him and was 8 months pregnant. It felt like God had brought us back together just in time. We rekindled our friendship and got together often...for a while.
For the life of me, I can't remember why we lost touch again. I don't think it was anything specific. We just got busy living our lives and raising our kids and lost touch. The next time our paths crossed we ran into each other at Chili's. We exchanged numbers and talked about getting together soon...but it never happened. Then our circle suffered another loss, Charlie fell from a cell tower and was killed instantly. I made the call because I figured I was the only one that had her number. It's crazy how we all get busy living our lives and in an instant we're all brought back together again.
She reached out to me more times than I can count. I am filled with guilt for not being the friend to her that she needed. I can blame it on my kids and being so busy with them or I can say it was just because we were in different places in our lives. But the God's honest truth is I didn't know how to be her friend anymore. She was a constant reminder of my old life and I didn't know how to transition it into my grown up adult life. The last time I saw her, I actually tried to avoid her....because I just didn't know what to say to her when she would tell me she missed me and our friendship. It's funny though, while I was trying to avoid her...she spotted me from across the pool and knew it was me from looking at the back of my head. We talked briefly about our kids and that was it. I haven't seen or spoken to her in probably 2 years.
So this morning when I heard the news, I felt guilty for even being sad. I feel like I was a shitty friend to her and therefore I have no right to even mourn her death. I was happy to hear that she had found happiness again and had remarried, but heartbroken to find out she left behind 9 week old twins. My heart and my head are all over the place. I'm sick over the fact that her 8 year old son, her step-son and her 9 week old daughter & son are now going to grow up without their mommy. The scars that were left behind from Philip's, Charlie's, Terri's & JD's (only to name a few) deaths have been ripped open and are now raw with sadness and regret.
Shannon, I'm sorry that I wasn't the friend you needed me to be. I'm sorry that your children, your husband and your family have to find the strength to go on living without you...just like you had to find it when you lost Philip. I hate that yet again, we're all coming together to say goodbye to one of our own. Rest in peace. You'll live on in our memories and in the eyes of your children.
***I'll update as soon as I know of any of the arrangements.