Grief is a very funny thing…it shows up differently in us all and is expressed in its own time and in its own ways.
It was a little over a week ago that I was sitting on a plane, headed home, when I got the news that a dear friend had passed. In my world, grief manifested itself in a state of shock and disbelief. As it slowly started to sync in I remember desperately trying to hold it together as tears forced themselves out of my eyes on that 3 hour flight. Almost the entire flight I sat there numb just staring outside at the vastness that is the night sky. I kept looking out the window thinking about Shawn’s soul wandering free out amongst the stars.
I’ve often blogged about the fact that songs and their lyrics can have completely different interpretation to its listeners. One song that never gets skipped on my shuffle and that I have always been drawn to is Stars by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. What I could have never predicted was that this song would one day hold a completely different meaning to me as it played for me just days after that plane ride.
The week to follow that fateful day would be a hard one as I tried to process how in the world someone so full of life and promise could have been taken from us. His best friend Matt fully encompassed what Shawn was to this world with the following speech at his funeral:
“Shawn was one of a kind that could light up anyone’s day by simply being around you.
That SMILE: Shawn could lite up a room by simply being there and giving that unforgettable smile. If you were having a bad day or you were in a miserable mood, my boy Shawn and his smile could change your mood and the entire room’s mood in an instance, simply by that wonderful and beautiful smile.
That LAUGH: As many of you might know, Shawn had a little volume to everything he did and said, and 95% of the time it was followed by his heart felt laughter. Shawn had such an awesome laugh that it could literally be heard anywhere and more importantly once you heard it you seeked it out and wanted more and more of it. Shawn’s laughter was contagious, he honestly could change any atmosphere at any given moment, simply by being himself and laughing.
The PRESENCE: Shawn’s presence was second to none. Shawn literally had a glow surrounding him and everyone gravitated towards that glow and if you were fortunate enough to of known him you actually found a living legend and felt that inner and outer glow that he embodied.
Those HUGS: My wife Michelle reminded me of this one. Shawn’s hugs were just a small taste of what you were going to feel when you knew the man, the myth, and the legend. Every single hug was heart felt and you felt the true warmth and compassion with every single one. When you give a hug to the next person in this lifetime, ask yourself one question, how would Shawn do this and do it with compassion just as Shawn would do.
The COMPASSION: No matter what Shawn was doing he lived his life compassionately. Whether if it were playing roller hockey, listening to a friend or fraternity brothers problem or helping me personally deal with my parents recent divorce….Shawn helped so many people with his ability to be genuinely compassionate and willingness to be truly giving in every way possible.
Mr. GENUINE: Shawn was and is the definition of Genuine. There wasn’t and there isn’t one single ounce of fakeness in my best friend Shawn. Shawn was true to himself and everyone around him. Shawn’s quote that I live my life everyday by was, “Guy, What you see is what you get”. Shawn knew exactly who he was and lived his life everyday to the fullest and lived it intensely.
The INTENSITY: I never in my life thought I would meet someone that could match my intensity until I met Shawn. Shawn had that extra inner strength to amaze people and sometimes catch a few people off guard…. Shawn’s presence in a room with his intense living and compassionate ways would attract anyone within a 1000ft. radius. People would gravitate towards his intense and compassionate ways and would want to be part of whatever it was Shawn was doing.
The COMMORADITY: Shawn helped all of us understand one thing and that was the importance of being with one another and making each other laugh and be happy simply by being with one another. It was impossible for Shawn to be alone, because once you met him you couldn’t let him go or turn your back to him, he brought out the best in everyone and helped me and everyone he touch understand and respect the importance of being with one another.
The IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY: Shawn spoke of his mom, his brother and his late father with the utmost respect and love. You could talk to Shawn about your own family issues and when he was helping you deal with your own issues you truly saw how important his family was to him and how he thought things through. Shawn always had a smile on his face and shared with you his stories about his love for his family and it was contagious. In closing I would like to share with you a brief poem that has helped me deal with Shawns loss over these last few long days…..
If we could have a lifetime wish A dream that would come true, We’d pray to God with all our hearts For yesterday and you. We think of you in silence and laughter, And often speak your name, But all we have are memories, And your picture in a frame. We know you walk beside us, And when our life is through, We pray that God will take our Hand, and lead us straight to you.
I love you Shawn.”
For me, Shawn has allowed me to “light a fire with the love he left behind” by giving me the courage to try to be bolder, braver, and more fearless….just as he was. I know that I will always think of Shawn but I won’t “wonder where you are” because I know you are all around us, if we pay close enough attention. And one thing is for certain…you were too big a personality on this earth to be confined to just residing amongst the stars but the stars will always “make me wonder where you are”. Rest in peace you crazy wonderful soul!
Please help me in remembering my larger than life friend by donating to the Shawn P. McCarthy Memorial Fund.