I knew Shannon for three short, but wonderful years. I was drawn to her vivacious personality and infectious smile. We had so much in common; love of the outdoors and sports, healthy foods, music, a positive outlook on life, and more. We could spend days upon days together, 24 hours at a time, and miss each other the minute we left. She was my best friend, my biggest supporter, and more.
In November of 2001, she died in my arms at three in the morning. I did everything right. The first response teams were unable to resuscitate her, merely minutes after she collapsed on our living room floor. Her children, a girl and boy, ages 7 and 11, were sleeping (thankfully) through the commotion of the teams of EMT's and Paramedics. In the hospital, less than 60 minutes after calling 911, a neurosurgeon told my beloved Shannon was gone. "Basically brain dead, unable to breathe on her own, ever again." I could hear and accept what this man was saying (even though I questioned his judgement), but could not understand how a healthy 38 year old woman, could just drop dead with no warning.
The next 48 hours some of the most tortuous times of my life. A decision was made by the family, to perform "heroic measures" as the neurosurgeon so gracefully put it. I had never heard of a brain aneurysm or it's devastating effects. Shannon lay lifelessly in her bed after the surgery, as her young children, parents, Sisters, and Brothers, and ex-husband, all asked in vain that she "wake-up." It was all that I could do to keep that room together, for I knew what the outcome was going to be.
She was so loved, and such a kind, generous, and happy person. It seemed unfair, unreal, and so sudden. We were in love, deeply in love, and had been discussing becoming married. This relationship meant so much to me, as I have never felt so loved and safe than with Shannon. I embraced her children into my life, and welcomed the challenges and complications it brought us. She was worth every bit of it. Now she's gone. And I am here to continue on for... who knows how long?
Life is different now. I have survived the hardest, darkest Winter of my life. I am 35 years old with a very uncertain outlook on the future. I am not very religious, but see our lives as something not to be taken for granted. But rather, something to be enjoyed, and to be proud of while we're alive. What's next, I do not know, but I pray and hope my Shannon is safe, and with her Father who died a couple of weeks ago... along with MY Grandfather too.
Her children (who were my children too, for the last of year of her life) are rekindling a healthier relationship with their Father. He has changed for the better. This is the only good I can see that came from this tragedy. As for me, I have lost my innocence. Feeling like I have survived some of the living hell life has to offer. I have lived through my grieving, mostly alone, for my closest friends and family are 2-300 miles away. Luckily for me, I have a therapist for a Mom, and a Psychologist for a Father, and a degree in Human Communication. I suppose I feel I can see myself through this on my own. But, I can see, it's not so easy.
So many stories I have read speak of God. Although I find this kind of talk uplifting and hopefull, it does nothing for me when I remember what I've lost. I write this letter, in hopes of hearing some positive words of encouragement, some reason to hope and dream again. I hope I have not offended anyone with my feeling sorry for myself. I can see we all have shared much pain. It's just that I am still feeling a great sense of loss and am looking for ways to cope, survive, and hopefully find joy and optimism again.
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