Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Send me away with the words of a love song

"Don't take anything for granted." How many times have we all heard that? Our parents said it to us when we were children, and in high school when we were selfish and sometimes mean, as all teenagers can be, our teachers reminded us. The first time death claimed someone we loved, and we learned what real heartbreak, the choking, painful kind, feels like, someone in the wings told us, "Don't take anything for granted."

And yet somehow we all slip into the complacency of a life that is solid and routine, and we begin to do the very thing that everyone always warned us about. We begin to take things for granted. And not just things, like our cars, and cell phones, and computers, although surely we are all guilty of that, but worse: we begin to take the people around us for granted. We expect them to be there forever, waiting on our call, or posting on Facebook, or Twitter. In our increasingly interconnected world, we simply assume that everyone is always a click or a text away. Maybe that is part of the problem, our reliance on technology to do the connecting. We forget to reach out to physically be with someone else.

Shawn Christy taught me a lot of things, although he probably never realized it in between all of the drinks and laughter and fun. When I began working at the Greene Turtle, I was afraid more than anything else. Not of the work, that was easy enough, but of myself. I was afraid of who I was going to be in a world where I was suddenly free to make all of my own choices. I could be selfish, I could be giving, I could be strong, weak, different, the same. The fact that I chould choose was overwhelming to me. Trust me, over the next few months I made a lot of bad choices, but somewhere in there, I emerged with this new family at the Turtle. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by people who accepted whoever I wanted to be, and trust me, sometimes that changed daily. In the center of that family, playing cornhole, encouraging another round of shots, giving out hugs, was Shawn Christy.

Shawn was bright. There really isn't another way to describe him. He shined through his smile, his outlook, and his devotion to his son. He was flirtatious, and I know he kissed me more than once. He was just playing, just goofing off, but somehow that was exactly what I needed. He was so at ease with himself that he inspired me to reach for the same thing for myself.

Two days before his accident, I was rolling silverware at the hostess stand, absorbed, singing absently along with the band. I felt arms go around me from behind, and although he didn't work there anymore, and I hadn't seen him in a couple of months, I just knew. So I turned around, and hugged him, and told him which manager was on duty. And that was it. Two days later, he was gone.

And so I'm left with the same regrets that everyone is when they realize that they've taken something for granted. I wish that I had texted, or tweeted, or facebooked more since he left the Greene Turtle. I wish that I had let him know that I am happy that he was my friend, even though it seems like I only knew him for a heartbeat of time. I can wish, and regret, and cry forever, but I won't. You know why? Because Shawn was always smiling, and he would want everyone to do the same.

Please visit this link to donate money toward a fund for funeral expenses and Shawn's sons, Shawn Jr. and Da'lyn.

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