Tomorrow, January 4th, would be my lifelong best friend’s 42nd birthday. I write would be because sadly she was killed by a drunk driver almost 6 years ago, so she’s not here to celebrate with us. She was killed by a man who served prison time for previous drunk driving offenses. Repeat drunk driver. What if sentences were stricter and her killer was still in jail? He wouldn’t have been able to kill her. It haunts me still.
Although the shock and intense pain of losing Shannon has settled into a persistent ache instead of the life-stopping gash, my resolve to see drunk-driving end hasn’t faded a bit. It’s one of the most avoidable tragedies known to mankind, but still it persists. It’s maddening. The problem of drunk driving seems too easy to solve. Maybe I’m too simplistic of a thinker to figure out why it keeps happening at the rate it does, but heck, I wonder how many people would drive drunk if the fine was $10,000. What if.
I’ve written about my grief about her death in previous posts (entitled Grief is a funny thing), so I’m not going to write about it here.
This post is about honoring my friend and share the hope I share with her.
When I wake up tomorrow morning and my family celebrates Shannon’s birthday, I’ll be drawn to the words of Jesus. I believe He’s the only complete truth teller there ever was (is); everyone else might have some truth, but they don’t have it all. And I can’t place my hope on incomplete information.
Hope in Jesus is NOT a wish. It’s not a nail-biting Hail Mary throw we toss out into the ‘Universe’ with eyes closed and fingers crossed. It isn’t a gamble, a desperate plea for a magical outcome, and it’s not personal opinion. We might not know the moment we will die. But Jesus tells us how our story is going to end if we follow Him.
May you have the assurance of where you’re going after you die. I can’t think of anything more pressing to consider. I pray you put all your faith in Jesus.
This is the poem I read at Shannon’s funeral. I wrote the day after she died as I bawled my eyes out in the closet while packing to fly to Southern California for her service. To give you a little background information to help you understand the poem, Shannon battled a terrible addiction until she entered recovery at age 27. Few people thought she was recoverable after the damage she’d done to herself since her teen years. But through the grace of God, she grabbed hold of sobriety and lived a full life’s worth of goodness in the 10 years she had left.
She lives on as one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met.
Shannon could walk into a room of 20 strangers
And leave with 20 new friends,
Her laughter was pure joy in sound
More beautiful than Beethoven.
Her love for adventure unceasing
And child-like wonder unfaded,
She respected every living being
With the value from which is was created
Shannon showed us how to live
With a completely open heart,
She knew that no one is beyond God’s reach
And each day brings a brand new start.
She made this world a better place
And brought cheer to the bleak,
She always looked for the common ground
With everyone she’d meet
We watched her struggle out of her cocoon
And become this graceful butterfly,
She surprised us all and emerged unscathed
And went on to lead the most beautiful life
Her life is a testimony
Of what love and hope can do,
When you never give up, refuse to quit
And let God do what only God can do
So, cry if you must and shout if you need
And drink from the cup of grief,
But rest in her love, let her laughter lift you up
For a time will come for you, too, to break free
Shannon, I’ll love you forever
My sister and dearest friend,
My only comfort during this terrible pain
Is knowing I’ll see you again
And when it’s my time to join you
I ask God to do one thing for me,
To let your laughter be the first thing I hear
And your smile the first thing I see.