Me, Shannon and Ashley a couple of weeks ago.
My friend Shannon passed away yesterday.
We have been friends for 17 years.
She has been putting up a great fight against breast cancer the past few years.
With a lot of highs and lows, Shannon was always hopeful.
When she and her husband Jay came to our home to share the news of her diagnosis
it felt like I'd been kicked in the gut.
I hate cancer.
It has taken close family members, friends, neighbors,
and Shannon is the second friend to leave us in the space of one month.
(The other, our former backdoor neighbor, sweet Amy, was diagnosed with
stage 4 lung cancer on July 1st and passed on July 13th,
Leaving her husband and 5 children ages 12 to 1.)
A friend I visit teach is thankfully in remission after surgeries, chemo and radiation
and another friend in our neighborhood is now going through treatments.
All young mothers in their 30's and 40's.
I know that Heavenly Father calls you home when your earthly mission is complete,
yet still it is a hard cup to swallow.
Earlier this summer Shannon took a turn for the worse and her liver began to fail.
Our church congregation (lds.org) had a specific fast in behalf of Shannon.
The purpose being to pool our collective faith and ask Heavenly Father to continue to
bless and give strength to this good family at this difficult time.
I heard some say,
"Well, I guess we didn't get our hoped-for miracle."
I don't see it that way at all.
In fact, I believe we did see several small miracles.
Foremost was the fact that Shannon was given more time.
Time to see some things through that were important to her.
She was able to be here for the return of her missionary stepson and spend precious weeks
with him evaluating and strengthening their relationship.
She was able to travel with her husband and children in an RV to visit some
places she had always wanted to see such as Mount Rushmore and
Mormon Church History sites.
Her children were able to attend their Girl's Camp,
and Scout camps and she was able to hear all about them upon their return.
She was able to see her only daughter complete and earn her
Young Woman Recognition Award
(extra special as Shannon is the Young Women Personal Progress Leader).
She was also able to complete some special projects and spend one-on-one time
with each child to share her hopes, dreams and expectations for them.
And the past few weeks Shannon was able to have some quality visits
with her extended family and close friends.
All this while her liver numbers were at levels above where most people die.
I'd say that was indeed a miracle.
Shannon has many friends and I am grateful to be among them.
She is a guileless woman who loves to serve others without complaint.
Even when she was uncomfortable and in pain she was serving.
When we first became friends we bonded over the fact that we had both been
junior high school teachers and even worked for the same principal.
Oh the stories we shared!
Shannon is an excellent all-around athlete and we both love basketball.
She never gave up on trying to get me to come play on teams with her.
We liked talking shop and comparing notes each season about NBA and collegiate basketball.
For years we sat by each other in ward choir and if ever I didn't make it
I would get a text from her saying, "The altos are ailing we need our anchor." :)
We had a lot of ongoing private jokes. We both loved The Partridge Family from the 1970's.
She and her sisters loved to sing along to that album on road trips.
One birthday she bought me The Partridge Family CD and we turned it on and sang along
and laughed at how we remembered all the lyrics 30 years later.
We called each other 'cousin' since she was a Peterson as was my Grandma Helen
and also because she was raised in a town called Snowflake, which was named in part
for my 4th great-grandpa Erastus Snow.
I had the opportunity to serve as Compassionate Service Leader
when Shannon was our Relief Society President.
This allowed me a great opportunity to learn from her great heart.
When assessing the need for compassionate service she would approach it as a
'Network of Love.'
First, what can the family do?
Second, what can the friends do?
Third, what can the church do?
We are here to learn to love each other.
When my own father died a few years ago, Shannon was one of the first
to come over and spend time with me. Actually, hours.
I've never forgotten that and how much that helped me at the time.
Shannon, I love you.
Thank you for your friendship.
Thank you for your example of goodness.
I hope there is a great basketball team in heaven
eager to let you join.