The Shane I picture stops at 14. I look at my husband day to day and think of how he is only two months older than Shane, but I can't imagine Shane at 22.
Because he is stuck in 2001.
Because, for some reason, he was not allowed to live longer.
Maybe this is because God spared him from some pain to come. But to us, no pain is greater than Shane being gone. Maybe God chose Shane because he was already the best person he could ever be. I don't know why, and I don't think I will ever know.
A week ago was the first time I watched a home video of Shane since his death. It was bittersweet watching him dance across my old living room. And yes, literally dance; Shane, Dustin, Brooke, and I were leaping across the living room floor to some retro 90's music. As I watched, I couldn't take my eyes off of him. He laughed, and laughed, and laughed. First because little one-year-old Seth was jumping onto his stomach, once because Dustin and he wrestled each other to the floor. I watched him pick me up and spin me around. I hugged my 2009 body, knowing at that one moment of time, Shane embraced my 1995 body.
The most difficult thing about watching that video was the feeling that it was happening now. The noises, the voices, the music, the laughter was all 13 years past. But no, Shane is not dead, because I see him alive in the video. He lives in that picture. Seth did not just turn 15, because he is only 1 in that picture. Time is not now, it is then. For a second, I can reel back time and hug Shane.
I still have his embrace in my skin. I still have his laughter fresh in my mind. I still have the memories to hold close to me and to write down.
Nothing, not even time, can take this away.
Happy 22nd birthday, Shane.
P.S. I have kept a journal of letters to Shane since October 28, 2001. I would like to share a few entries in memory of Shane on his birthday, and in honor of the person who has to hurt the most of all of us, my dear Aunt Dana.
October 28, 2001
It was nice to know you while it lasted, but we still have forever! Don't ever forget me. I know I never will. I'll tell my children of the love you changed lives with and of all the memories we shared. I promise, Shane, your love will carry on.
The main reason I want to have you here is because of all the grief everyone has. I have to deal with my mom crying a lot, and I don't like when she crys. It hurts me when she crys. It makes me sad. I love when she smiles and laughs. It makes me happy. It's like I'm a part of her. And I am. But your mom is the one, I think, with the most grief. Your death tore her whole life and body apart, into a million pieces and she can never be put back together. Never. Not on Earth, anyway. I'm not blaming you, though. Your body just couldn't take it anymore. And you are lucky because you are in no pain at all, and you, right now, are in the paradise of God, Jesus and angels. You have seen the face of God! I can't believe it.
November 4, 2001
Well, I don't know what to talk about. Well, maybe I will give you a memory:
This wasn't too long ago, but it was probably when you were in 6th or 7th grade. I think it was 6th grade. Anyway, you were going to a dance with Samantha. You were going out with her. You and her were boyfriend and girlfriend. You were really nervous. You know, you were quiet and shy. You didn't know which shirt you were going to wear for the dance. I think the shirts were new. You went around and asked everyone which shirt looked better. Finally you picked out a shirt, and I remember it have a cool pattern and bright colors. I remember your mom being so excited and smiling and being happy. Her heart was nothing but happy before you died. You got your heart from her. You were a part of her. When you were no longer here, a part of her wasn't, either. You were her happiness. You were her life.
December 31, 2001
I don't really want to end this year at all because 2002 will be the first year I won't have your face to look at, or any happiness through listening to you play the piano.
I guess this book could go on forever. Or, at least, until I die. That would be a long Dear Shane book. Or maybe not. You know, I remember you smiling and hugging your mom and saying that you and her were going to grow old together, and you said you were going to live with her and take care of her even when you're 30.
I guess your ribbon of love will tie us all into a tighter, more beautiful bow forever.