Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Shauna

Oh, let's just get some more of the sad out here, shall we? I have been thinking about writing this for an awfully long time.

I first met her the first day of 5th grade. I was a new civilian kid, in yet another school, having lived the Air Force life until now. My dad had decided to trade in his captain's uniform and endless transfers for a new career and a mortgage. I was scared, but this was nothing new. I was always scared the first day of a new school and always barfed. I was shy, quiet, with glasses and long, straight brown hair. No one talked to me and only looked at me out of the corner of their eyes that first day.

Except her.

She smiled at me. I asked if she was new, too, and she laughed her loud, free, raucous laugh, as she had gone to that school her entire life; a five year veteran. She sat with me at lunch and played with me at recess. Two odd-balls who became very best friends.

I walked an extra 1/2 mile to wait at her bus stop before we were able to drive ourselves to school. Her bus stop was more fun than mine and I liked the walk. We hung out at the little strip of beach by the Willamette river below her house in summer, until the river became so polluted that one summer that we sank in muck above our knees and bumped into dead carp floating on the surface as we inner tubed. Thank you so very much, Ronald Reagan and your cronies, for your gutting of the environmental laws.

She was hilarious and wanted to be a journalist, which eventually, she did. I saved many of her notes that we passed in school, in the halls, as we never had our classes together after 5th grade. Her writing was that good, even then. I later saved her letters sent from college, she in her small liberal arts school in Washington, me in my small liberal arts school in Oregon.

We both ran. Lots. Track, cross-country, and (because we were used to taking the activity bus after school and it became our social life, with the other distance running nerds), we also ran through the winter. Summers, we ran mostly on our own, as she preferred to do so in the evenings after her job as a life guard. I preferred in the very early mornings, before I was conscious and could think of an excuse. We spent our New Years' Eves together and, of course, our birthdays. A party of 3, with our mutual friend, Denise. The endless talking, giggling.

She called my dad, "Dad". Not to lessen her bond with her own father, but to share in the closeness with my own dad.

She was never mean. She was always laughing. Her voice squeaky and her hair in a tight curly perm of the early 80's. She never griped. She never gave up. Not a beauty queen, she was extremely well liked and was voted "princess" for some dance or other our senior year, complete with tiara. (I was just the teensy bit jealous. Of the tiara, not the princess thing.)

Even when we were too busy with school and life, we were connected, even if we didn't hear from each other for months.

She got engaged around the time I did, to this really great guy, who went on to play pro basketball in Europe. Shauna was about 18 inches shorter than he was. She had to stand on a picnic bench to look him in the eye.

...................................................

"Does Shauna live in _______?" asked Dad, waking me a bit before the alarm that Monday morning 18 years ago.

"Yeah. Why?"

The radio news told the story of a woman with her name, from the small town she was living in while working for a newspaper in a slightly less small town. She had been killed in a car accident late the night before.

The floor fell out of my life.

I don't really remember that week, except I couldn't seem to stop crying and crying. I did not go to class. I never missed class. I remember the service and singing her favorite songs. I remember the hug I gave her fiance, knowing I'd never see him again.

I learned from her family that, as she had been driving home from dinner with her fiance, she had been hit head-on by an oncoming car who had somehow gotten in the wrong lane on the freeway. He was elderly and apparently had gotten confused. No alcohol involved. She was belted. The car ahead of her had been able to swerve out of the way, just barely, but Shauna didn't have time. It was over instantly, so they said. I cling to that.

Gradually, over a few years, I was able to think of her without bursting into tears. Several more years and I can remember her with impunity. It no longer hurts to do so. I am sad that I no longer wake in the morning wondering why the hell I haven't spoken to her in a while, before remembering. I hate all she has missed in life. I hate all I haven't missed and can't laugh over with her.

I realize after writing this that she probably would have blogged.

Which means you all would probably have "known" her, too.

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11 Comments:

Blogger The Lioness said...

I am so sorry sweetie, so very sorry. I don't know what else to say. She sounds brill, she sounds like loads of fun. And I wish I could have met her. And you give me hope. So thank you. Big hug.

12:42 PM  
Blogger moegirl said...

So sorry Diana, I remember that time, and how wonderfully sparkly Shauna was in high school. HUGS.

12:45 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Shauna. You've described a wonderful, vibrant woman who touched your life. I wish I had known her. Hugs to you.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

Oh Diana, I am so sorry. It sounds as though this grief is still a bit raw for you. It's those deaths, the ones where someone dies before they are "supposed to," that are the hardest.

I hope writing about her helped. Writing is cathartic, isn't it?

4:59 PM  
Blogger Cagey said...

Ihave led an incredibly charmed life where I haven't really lost a super close friend or relative. It's posts like this that remind me to say a liitle thanks for that.

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.

6:32 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Oh, Diana, I'm so sorry. She sounds like a wonderful person and I can understand why you miss her so. And really, now we do know her. It is like Uzi, I never knew him before Johnny told us about him.

Love you lots which sounds weird considering we've only met through the internets but I do. Hugs.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

So tragic. I can just imagine how you must have felt hearing that news. It's just so hard to process why something like that had to happen. Sounds like she was a wonderful person.

Thanks for writing about her, though. As Cagey mentioned, it helps remind me how fortunate I've been not to have experienced a tragedy like that.

7:30 PM  
Blogger listmaker said...

What a heartbreaking story; she must have been a wonderful person. Untimely deaths are just so unfair. Thank you for sharing your memories of her.

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of those times that parents dread--reporting on the loss of a loved one to a loved one. Shauna would have been a most excellent piffle-head. You all would have adored her. She was definitely my "third daughter". I never attend a race without thinking of her. She was so very special.

Yes, the Ole RFer is back with the living. My head is a bit sore and not just a little fuzzy, but that is normal, I guess. Miss you all muchly. Diana has very special friends.

The old RFer

5:35 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

Hey, ole RF-er!

I, for one, am very much relieved that you are back among the living. The comments around here were lacking a certain je ne sais quoi without you. No, that's not exactly it. There was lack, but then there was extra - extra concern. the balance of the universe has now been successfully restored. (And I hope your head feels better soon.)

5:49 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Johnny- You, of all people know what I mean. I also wanted you to know that, after a very long time, it does not hurt so badly.

Stacy- She was truly the best friend possible. Thanks.

Beth- I wish you could have known her, too.

Teri- Yes, writing is cathertic. It was so hard NOT having the world stop when she died. I wanted something out there in the ether, so to speak. If she is remembered, she exists.

Cagey- Thanks. I am very glad you have not had that sort of sorrow. I know loss is a part of life, but that doesn't make it any easier.

Dana- You remind me a bit of her. She was so comfortable in her own skin, even as a teen. She was not self-conscious about being silly, embracing life. She was always laughing and making others laugh, too. Love you back (in a non-creepy internet way).

Rozanne- You are right. It took years for her death to truly sink in. I had to keep reminding myself that she was gone, not just off being busy.

Listmaker- Thanks. It seems the season, for some reason, to remember those we miss.

Dad- You said it. She was your third daughter. She loved you dearly. And if she were around now, she'd be giving you hell, too.

Teri- Amen, sistah!

6:25 PM  

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