Shawn’s life ended sometime this afternoon. As the news reached me, my first thoughts weren’t sad ones. My first thoughts made me laugh out loud. I began remembering all of the good times. One in particular flashed through my mind. Me, Nicole Rosenbaum and Shawn were in middle school and Shawn invited us over. We were in his room and I think it was Ace of Base playing on the radio. He grabbed something to use as a microphone, jumped on his bed, and started dancing. It was hilarious. Then I remembered the time we went to the masquerade ball, me as Cleopatra and him as an Egyptian Pharoah. Neither one of could dance back then (I never got any better) but we had such a blast. I also remember so many weekends when all of our friends were out with their significant others; we’d call each other and just hang out. I remember all the silly skits we did as a part of CSU and all of the youth events, church activities, and band trips. So many of my good memories of middle school and high school involved Shawn.
I’m sad to say, though, that after high school we weren’t nearly as close. We kept up with each other through other people. Sometimes when he was in town I’d get a hug and we would catch up. It was always so good to see him and it was so easy to pick up right where we left off.
I just never thought that Shawn’s life would end so fast. I never imagined that we wouldn’t get the chance to be close again. During these past two weeks I was so happy that mom invited me to go with her to visit Shawn in the hospital while he “recovered”. We got to catch up and reconnect and for that I’m so very thankful. That visit is something I wouldn’t ever want to trade.
In light of Shawn’s death, I can’t help but focus my attention back on life. There’s a thought that keeps rolling through my brain: INVEST IN PEOPLE WHILE THEY’RE WELL. I can’t go back and change my relationship with Shawn after high school. I can’t get back to the years we spent as casual and distant friends. I can’t say that showing up when he was sick will ever be enough to close the chasm of the years. But what I can do is make the choice to invest in the people around me: the people that I care about in my everyday life and the people I haven’t seen in a really long time. I can make the choice to invest in people while they are well. I don’t have to have regrets. I don’t have to wait for this person to make a move or that special circumstance to come about. I can invest in people now.
Shawn was a dear friend, wonderful man, and a joy to be around. He wanted to leave a legacy. During our last conversation last week, he told us that when he beat this cancer, one of his goals was to be a motivational speaker. He wanted to help others move forward with their lives and he wanted to use his battles as a platform. Shawn will never get that chance but that doesn’t mean he can’t leave a legacy. For me, because of Shawn, I’m looking at life very differently. I don’t want to miss life. I don’t want to miss the chance to have meaningful relationships. I don’t want to let friendships that faded years ago fizzle into nothingness.
I want to invest in people while they’re well.