Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shannon's guest post 2/2: How my life has changed

Yesterday's and today's posts are from my sister Shannon. In this post, she shares how her life has changed as a result of Aimee's death. Here is a link to yesterday's post.

Dreams died that day: not just my brother’s dreams of his future with his beautiful wife, but my dreams that people do actually live happily ever after. My marriage of 15 years ended approximately 3 years ago. I look around me and watch marriages fall apart every day, and 3/4 the people I know that are still married have not divorced simply because they don’t want to lose their husbands income, or pay their wife child support. Or even more important reasons, such as having someone to mow the lawn or take out the trash. This makes me sick to my stomach. Patrick and Aimee gave me hope - that tiny glimmer of hope that people can marry and make it work, be happy, be best friends, be partners and love each other. They were such and amazing example of a true biblical marriage. Words cannot describe the happiness I felt for my brother every time I saw them together. Aimee put a sparkle in his eye that was never there before. And then it ended in an instant. They did it right and it still ended.
My sister Shannon
This left me with little hope.
Then the anger came, a lot of anger at God. I yelled and screamed at Him. How could you let this happen?!?!? Aimee was an amazing person who touched everyone around her with her loving, generous, and supportive spirit. Why not take someone else?? Even me??? She was a way better person that me!! Please God give her back and take me. I prayed that so many times knowing full well that God does not do such things. But I prayed it…and I meant it. More anger: ”God, how could you have done this to my brother?!?!? He has had so many struggles, so much heartbreak. And he did this marriage thing the right way: didn't rush in, waited until he found the one, got married, had a child. THIS IS SO UNFAIR!!” ran through my mind hundreds if not thousands of times. Which is ridiculous of course. Life isn’t fair, and no one deserves this, and why not her?
Then came Aimee's memorial. I had never been to one, and had never planned on going to one. I wanted to remember people being alive not them being dead. What’s the point? I went anyway, though not sure why. Just did. And I heard something there that changed my life:
One of Aimee’s friends who spoke at the memorial said something to the effect that Aimee never told other people how to live their lives, but she lived her life as an example. I looked around and saw the amount of people in the room, the amount of people that she had affected in such a positive way. There were a lot.
So many people feel that success is defined by the things you earn. After that day, success was redefined for me. I now believe that success is defined by the number of people that you positively affect in your life. By that measure, Aimee was EXTREMELY successful. I decided that I wanted to be successful “Aimee style”.
I was somewhat Aimee’s opposite by nature: forceful, intense, inpatient, tough, rushed. Not all of the time, but a lot of the time - too much of the time. That all changed that day. Not in a New York minute, but I realized I wanted to be different, to follow the example set by Aimee. I may not be all that I need to be, but thanks to her loving example I am a much better person than I used to be.
Very few people inspire me. My brother inspires me - what an amazing man of God. What an amazing father. The way he has handled this has been such a source of inspiration for me as well as thousands of others. I believe the ability to be open and honest with your feeling is a gift that is possessed by few, and practiced by even fewer. This blog has touched so many, including myself. Reading his blog and seeing his faith in God even through this unimaginable tragedy has strengthened my own faith. His unwavering faith in God has showed me what that word really means. These words he said to me one night very soon after Aimee’s death stick in my head: “The bible says that all things work together for the good….it doesn’t say my good.”
With those words in mind, I am going to list the good things that have come out of my life through dealing with Aimee’s death.

1.       This has changed the core of my goals in life. I now focus on doing as much to positively impact others as possible. Just like Aimee did.
2.       I have slowed down. I try to never say to my children “I'm too busy right now”. It's reminded me to enjoy every minute to give them all of the love that I can while we are all still here.
3.       I really now realize that any one of us could be gone, at any minute. The song “If today was your last day” sticks in my head. So I try never to put off until tomorrow what is important today. Like hugging my kids, or telling someone how much they mean to me. You never know which minute will be your last.
4.       I have stopped putting off things that I want to do. I went to Hawaii last month, and I'm going again next month. Before I would always say, ”next year, next week, next month.” Now, I just do it. Who knows if “next year, next week, next month, or tomorrow” will come? Today is a day that we will never have again. Don’t waste it.
5.       My brother and I are a lot closer than we were prior to Aimee’s death and I have really gotten to see what an incredible man he really is. For that I am very grateful.
6.       I spend a lot more time with my niece. For those who don’t know, my brother and I live about 3 hours apart. Doesn’t seem like far but with two busy schedules it might as well be across three states. Since Aimee’s death, I have made a point to go visit Rowan more often. And what a blessing that child is. She makes me grin ear to ear every time I see her. She is just like her mother.
7.       Watching my brother deal with all of this has let me know that terrible things can happen and you can and will survive. And seeing what an incredible man and father he is gives me that little hope that there may be a few good men left out there.
8.      Believing in the goodness of people is very hard sometimes. When I saw that amount of love and support shown to my brother and others during this time of need I was astonished at the amount of good in people. For a while at least, it took away the lenses of my own bad experiences with people and reminded me that good people, with good hearts, still exist. Quite a few of them =)
9.       I have seen this blog, where my brother shares his heart and his struggles, help so many people through their pain. It touches people on a very personal level, and makes them feel like someone, somewhere, can relate to their pain.
The thing is, as much as this has affected my life for the better, I would give it all back. I wish I could take away my brother's and my niece's pain and to see that sparkle in his eye…that sparkle that said “Aimee”.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you to Shannon and for Pat in posting this. I can't tell you how much your courage in sharing your thoughts through this unspeakable tragedy have touched myself and so many others.