When we think back on 2009, I think we will recall this as the year of losses. We have lost jobs, pets, beloved family members, and--more recently--a dear friend.
One of Shannon's best friends, Autumn Sova, died October 7th at the age of 14. She had been at the University of Michigan hospital awaiting surgery for an aortic aneurysm when she passed away.
The aneurysm was discovered about a week earlier when Autumn had pains in her ribs. An x-ray revealed what doctors thought was a cyst on her rib cage, but an MRI proved the situation to be much more critical. She was in the hospital for about a week while the doctors waited for the inflammation in her aorta to subside. On the night of October 7th, Autumn told her mother she did not feel well and immediately began having seizures. Doctors tried for an hour to revive her, but the aneurysm had burst and she was gone.
Losing someone who spent so much time at our home has been difficult on all of us. Autumn's funeral was the toughest service I have ever had to get through. No one should have to bury a 14-year-old.
No one is having a tougher time than Shannon. The loss of a friend with whom she ate lunch at school almost daily and shared dreams and confidences has been just heartbreaking for her. Although doing better in the weeks following the funeral, the slightest reminder of Autumn will still cause her to burst into tears.
We have spent a lot of time talking about how Autumn would want Shannon to remember her, and how a person so full of spunk and laughter would not want anyone to be sad when they thought of her. We talk about living her life in a way that would make her friend proud.
We also talk a lot about holding dear to the people we care about in our lives--especially friends. I have always told her to choose her friends carefully and to surround herself with people who make her feel positive and good about herself. I did not think we would have to have a discussion this early on how to go on when those people are unexpectedly taken from your life.
Even though it is early in life for Shannon to learn a lesson this harsh, I hope she will take from it the importance of not taking anyone ffor granted. It's a lesson that we all need to be reminded of occassionally. None of knows how long those dear to us will be on the earth. Make sure they know how much they bring into our lives, and don't miss an opportunity to bring something special into theirs.
We will miss you, Autumn.