Life before

On this day 22 years ago I was a 17 year old girl who’s only worry was what my plans would be for the weekend. I was unaware of how short life can be. The details of the Labor Day weekend over two decades ago are pretty vivid despite the time that has passed.

This photo was taken the weekend before Labor Day 1998 (left: Me, Middle: Shannon Right: Lindsay)

The three of us were bored. (Myself, Lindsay, and Shannon) We were trying to live up the days before school started back up. It was my Senior year and the only priority I had was having fun. We decided to sleep overnight together in one of our cars. I know rebels right? So the plan was to each tell our parents we were staying at each other’s houses, then meet up at Miller’s Grocery store to buy a bunch of junk food and stay up all night long talking.

After school that Friday we drove around Woodville and Elmore blasting “Feel so Good” by Mase and laughing. We saw a gallon of light blue and pink paint near the side of the road and picked it up. We headed out to Twp. Road 24 and made our print on the world, SLL JAKS. We wrote those letters on the road with excitement. Our 6 Pack crew consisted of 3 girls and 4 boys who spent most of their time together roller blading or playing asshole (card game for those not familiar) in someone’s driveway. We were good kids. The occasional sneaking out, but to roller blade and hang out. Ok, the ocassional Newport was smoked but in the words of Mr. Tchurne “I Digress!” We were making memories. I’m forever grateful for all of them, and the late nights of care free living we shared.

That night we did meet at Miller’s and bought nothing but hostess snacks, chips and pop. We drove around parking where we wanted and laughing until we cried. I vividly recall us laughing and gagging because Shannon’s feet smelled so bad in the car.

Sunday I had to work and my friends were repeatedly asking me to go out. My entire crew was headed to a teen dance place. Oddly I was insisting I stay home to clean my room. If you knew me in 1998, you know I didn’t clean my room unless forced. I also didn’t like missing out, so looking back I know my guides and angels were trying to keep me from harms way and added trauma that evening would bring. My friend Shannon didn’t have her license yet, and roller bladed from her house in Elmore to The Whippy Dip in Woodville where I worked. She thought I was mad at her and that’s why I wasn’t agreeing to come. I was reassuring her and my friends that I was fine, I just didn’t want to go. She waited for me to get off and I drove us to my house. We sat in my kitchen catching up and then I drove her home to get ready. That’s the last time I’d ever hug her and say “love ya!” I still remember her walking with her roller blades through the grass to her door. Her last words were “ Just come!!”

Lindsay and Shannon 1998

That afternoon I’d go back home to sit in my room, not cleaning a single thing. I instead laid down and took a nap. I woke up to hearing siren after siren fly by the house. When I woke up I was in a full blown panick attack. I had been dreaming of me and my friends standing in a circle holding hands. My friend Shannon was laying in the center of the circle with her soul hovering above her. She had passed away in my dream. It wasn’t spoken but I could feel it. When I woke up I couldn’t stop crying, I could hardly breath. I went down the stairs and between sobs got the words out to my Mom “ I dreamt Shannon died!” I remember her saying “ It’s ok, it’s just a Dream” and me saying no she’s gone, it felt too real.

We would get a call about 30 minutes later that there was a horrible accident. That my guy friends were ok (physically) but that my girl friends were in the ER banged up. Then as he choked back tears said “Laura, Shannon is gone” the only thing I remember is dropping the phone and me falling to the floor with it.

Life as I knew it would never be the same. There was life before September 6, 1998 and then life afterwards. The innocence of my teen years were forever shattered. The fragility of life came into focus and where I was once care free was replaced with anxiety and grief.

The days that followed are gone from my memory. I don’t even remember being at the funeral. I know it felt like I might die from the heartache. I know I didn’t know how to be happy without guilt, or how to help my friends. I was grieving differently than them. My grief wasn’t the same. I couldn’t sleep for months afterwards because I felt so incredibly guilty that I stayed home that day. So much guilt, grief and anger.

Shannon had the most beautiful smile and contagious laugh. 💕

I would spend the next 20 years stuffing that all deep down inside of me. Pretending I’d actually healed from losing her. Most days I can talk about it all without crying but as I write this today the tears are flowing. It’s ok to let it all flood back in. It’s helping release more trauma and grief. I had no intention on writing about this today, but a beautiful conversation with my dear friend Lindsay brought back in the flood of emotions. This morning we texted back and forth filling in holes of memories we’d forgotten from this weekend 22 years ago. I hate that we are bonded over our grief, but know it’s so much more than that. We still love each other and have a special friendship most can’t understand. I love you Lindsay Sarah….SLL lives on in our hearts. Miss you Shan! 💕

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