Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. - Helen Keller
When I first introduced "Mommy Mondays" I wanted to not only give others the opportunity to share their stories but also to brag a little about some of the wonderful moms that I have crossed paths with. I have been blessed to be surrounded by some pretty fantastic people, however, few people leave me in utter amazement. My long time friend Shannon falls into the category as one of those few people.
Shannon and I have been friends since I was 11 years old and she was 13 years old. She stole my boyfriend and apparently that was the ingredient needed to complete the recipe for a long lasting friendship. The fact that we not only share our first name but have the same middle name, as well, has always been the confirmation for me, that our friendship was not something created by chance or luck but more along the lines of something that was meant to be.
I was always the good one that played by the rules and Shannon has the kind of spirit that grabs life by the horns and makes of it what she pleases. We never attended the same school growing up but spent many of our years in high school inseparable until she enlisted in the Navy. I was devastated when she left, as a 16 year old girl, losing my best friend for 4 years was more than I could bare at times. We wrote letters, shared phone calls, and visited when possible, but as life shifted us in different directions our phone calls became fewer and further between but thankfully we never lost touch. Shannon has always been one of those friends that no matter how much time has passed, every time we talk, it is as if we have been transported back to the days of high school.
Shannon met her husband Mike while in the Navy and had 2 beautiful girls. Upon the completion of their Navy enlistment, they settled into Northern Virginia and seemingly lead a charmed life until January 2010 when Mike was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In true Shannon style, she found the strength to make the types of decisions we all pray to God to never be faced with. Mike underwent a series of treatments and surgeries with Shannon by his side. They fought with everything they had in a match up that was unfair from the beginning. Cancer proved to be a relentless opponent and Mike lost his battle on March 3rd, 2011 at the young age of 36.
To watch a good friend suffer a loss like Shannon rips your heart out and leaves you feeling helpless. To watch your good friend handle that type of loss with strength, dignity, and grace leaves you in a complete sense of awe. I can't imagine watching my husband succumb to a disease like cancer. I can't imagine telling my young children that their father has past away and I can't imagine how difficult it must be to be a widow at the age of 33 and attempt to rebuild your life. Although I am guilty of not calling as often as I should, my dear friend Shannon, I think of you everyday and when I do, I hug my kids a little tighter, I kiss my husband a little longer, and I am truly grateful for the gift of time that I have with my family.
I am honored to be walking next to my longtime friend Shannon for the second year in a row at the Race for Hope on May 6th, 2012 in memory of Mike. The Race for Hope raises funds to support innovative research initiatives and provide information for brain tumor patients and their families. Last year, Team G-Force was 150+ people strong, and one of the top ten fundraising teams. Over the past 3 years, the team has raised $50,000 to find a cure for brain cancer. If you would like to join Team G-Force or make a donation, you can do so here. My husband and I will also be holding the 2nd Annual G-Force Benefit on Saturday, April 28th at Shannon's Pub & Grille. We will be donating 10% of our gross sales on that day to the Race for Hope, as well as 100% of our silent auction proceeds. If you are interested in donating a silent auction item, feel free to email me, comment after this post, or visit my Facebook page here.
Below is a video of Mike that we shared at last year's G-Force Benefit.
What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.