I sent the following email to a group of people who were following my journey to India to spread Shannon's ashes and I thought i would post it here as well, since I know there are many of Shannon's friends and extended family that aren't on the list. I guess it would be more appropriate to post this in the Blue Skies section, but I was afraid Shannon wouldn't see it there. She was a BONFIRE post whore and this was her home away from home.
Peace to you all!
.....Hi everyone. With the anniversary of Shannon's accident approaching, I thought it would be a good time to check back in with everyone. Can you believe it has been a year already? Maybe its just me, but the last year has just seemed like a blur. It has been a year like none other for our Northern California skydiving community, and it sure seems like we had
more than our fair share of suffering. I had had a conversation with Shannon about how blessed we were as a community. I guess this was the year the bill came due. But even through all the suffering, there has
been no shortage of love. Love got me through the toughest experience of my life and I am eternally grateful to all of you. When tragedy like this occurs, it takes you beyond all the wealth and material things that we as humans have been programmed to seek. It brings you to the truth. And the truth, even in its most painful form, is beautiful.
As we have gotten closer to Memorial weekend, I have talked to a number of friends that I haven't seen for a while. I know there are many who are feeling great pain by revisiting the accident, and I have found myself telling them about some of the conversations Shannon and I had during our last month. As many of you know, Shannon had a rough childhood and grew up in a pretty unstable environment. Since I have been back from India, I have spent a lot of time with my good friends Sharky and Michele and their two wonderful kids, Jordan and Aaron. Sometimes I will just sit and watch them and think about what Shannon went through as a child. It really puts into perspective how difficult it can be to lose a parent at a young age, especially without someone there to adequately explain what had happened. How could something like that not effect you? But it is a true testament to how special Shannon was and how far she had come. When we talked about this, Shannon was very concerned as to how I
would be if anything ever happened to her. We talked about this very intensely and made a vow to each other that we would be ok should anything happen to the other. I draw strength from that conversation and I
intend to honor her memory by getting through this pain and longing to create a life that Shannon would be proud of.
On Tuesday, May 29th, at 11:06am (PDT), it will be one year since we lost her. I ask all of you, especially those who are still experiencing great pain, to join me at that time and send her a big hug and kiss and let her know that you are doing ok. Make your own commitment to her that you will not look back in sorrow when you think of Shannon, that you will
remember the good times and the love you shared with her and how special she made you feel.
At the risk of entirely losing credibility with y'all, I want to tell you a story of how I decided what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Its about the day a dog talked to me. As many of you know, before Shannon died, we were in the process of selling most of our things and we were planning to ride around the country looking for the best place for us to open an
animal sanctuary. Our first stop was to be at Best Friends animal sanctuary in Utah, where we were going to learn the ins and outs of putting something like this together. We were both really excited about
living our lives like this; spending time with each other and lots of animals. After Shannon died, it was very hard for me to revisit this idea because I just couldn't imagine doing it without her. The idea now felt very lonely and I kind of put it out of my mind for a while. About a week ago, I was driving down El Camino Real on my way to my house to meet my new realtor, and I looked over at the car next to me and there was a scruffy old dog in the backseat sticking his head out of the window. I had not been thinking about animals or Shannon or anything else at the time,
put at the very instant I laid my eyes on this dog, I totally lost it. There was absolutely no thought involved, I just started crying and I felt the energy just shoot right through my body. It was eerily similar to other things that had happened to me in the last year. Although it felt familiar, I had no idea why I would just lose it like that. I continued my way home and met with the Realtors. Since it was the first time I met them, we got into the story of what I had been through the past year. When we got to the point of the story I mentioned above, that we were going to open an animal sanctuary, the Realtors both looked at each other and chuckled. I wasn't sure what to make of that, but I continued to tell them the story. After I was through, they went on to explain that they had been working with a client for eight years trying to help him find land to open a sanctuary on, and if I ever did decide to do this, they said they would be
more than happy to help me out. They worked with their client closely on that deal and they are now very familiar with the zoning and other regulations that I need to know about. They also volunteered to take me
out to the sanctuary and introduce me to the owner. So, thinking this is maybe a sign, I get on the Best Friends website to see about any courses they have about opening an animal sanctuary. There is a week-long workshop beginning June 3rd, but the problem is that it has been full for months and the waiting list had 55 names on it. As a matter of fact, all of
the classes for 2007 are full. I sent them an email asking them to put me on the list and I told them if they had any last-minute cancellations, I would find a way to make it out there. At this point I told myself it wasn't going to happen and I said that if I was able to get into this workshop somehow, I was going to have to accept my fate that this is what I am supposed to do. Within 24 hours they had contacted me back and invited me to the workshop. They remembered the story of Shannon and all the donations made in her name, so next weekend I head out to Utah to go through this week-long workshop.
That was the day the dog talked to me.
Anyway, since I made the decision to do this, other pieces have come together as well. It's really funny, but my biggest fear in doing this was that I would be alone. But not only do I feel Shannon with me every
step of the way, I have felt the love and support of everyone I have told this story to and I have come to realize that I will never be alone in this venture. When I return from Utah I will start looking for land and I will keep you updated as I progress. Although I am not sure where it will be, I do know what the name will be.
It will be called "Shannon's Place".
Lots of Love to you all!