Hope you had a good Christmas and New Year's. We did. They were quiet but full of family and love, so couldn't be any better.
As this year starts, my life is so full. I have a family I love and a job I enjoy. I have friends who make me laugh and who care about me. I have high hopes for 2011 in many ways, but I am also facing it, as of this morning, without someone who has been with me for half my life. And while I know life is full of passages, some of them sure can hurt.
I met Shayne through a letter writing magazine. He was in prison and I was a new mom and somehow, we "clicked". Our letters began flying fast and furious, long missives in which I learned of his past and he of mine. Truly, we couldn't have been more different. The redneck, football loving, abused boy who would spend the rest of his life behind bars and the city girl-turned wife-turned mother in a small Indiana town. Odd combination for sure. Yet, as the years passed and the letters written and responded to, we grew close. We sent Christmas packages. We talked on the phone. My whole family sent him photos and drawings and letters. He was a part of our family.
For a few years around 2003-2004, we lost touch. Unbeknownst to me, his only daughter had been killed in a house fire and he was so completely devastated that he cut off all contact with anyone. He had loved her dearly and her loss was almost more than he could bear.
I didn't hear from him for several years and I missed him terribly. Then, in January 2008, I got a letter again. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given six months to live. At the time his letter arrived, I was in the process of losing my mother as well and it was awful. We took up right where we left off, writing long letters. As time passed and he was still here, the doctors were amazed at his endurance. He credited me . . . . I credited his stubborn nature. :)
Shayne was also a painter. I would get paintings from him every year or so. Stop by my house and you can see one framed on the wall. His handpainted cards and t-shirts were always such fun to get. Even the kids have some of them.
About six months ago, he sent me a cell phone. It took him months to earn the money for it. He sent it to me and arranged it so that he could call me straight from the prison. We spoke several times a week for a couple of months. Hearing that slow southern drawl (he was originally from Texas) always made me smile. We would only get 15 minutes to talk and were constantly interrupted by the recording that this was a call from a prison system (like either one of us had forgotten!), but these calls were sweet.
Two days after Christmas, I received a sweet letter from him. It was full of gratitude and affection and, in retrospect, I realize it was some what of a goodbye as well. Patrick Shayne Sesco, my friend, my correspondent, my family, a part of my life for 25 years, passed away in his sleep last nite. I was called by a friend of his and told this morning.
My heart hurts. I accept that with the passage of time, we lose people. I've survived the loss of my parents and even a few friends. And now, one of the dearest people in the world. I am grateful I've had him for 25 years. I'm grateful I got to meet him in person two years ago. I'm grateful he was part of my life. And I shall miss him more than he could ever know.
Shayne did not believe in god, but he did believe there was an afterlife. He was sure that when he died, he would be reunited with his daughter. He was also sure that he would find a way to come back and haunt me (usually he told me he'd mess with the toilet paper roll whenever I walked into the bathroom). I hope he's right. I hope he is sitting under a tree somewhere with his daughter. Then, I hope that later he wanders around and stops to say hello to my mom and dad. They can compare notes on what it was like to know me and then swap silly stories. I don't think for a moment that is possible, but I can hope.
Have a special friend who means the world to you? Take a minute and let them know today, ok? It will be our honor to a friend who is gone but never, ever forgotten.