Twenty years ago today my life and the lives of many of my friends changed forever. I am not able to describe what others were feeling or went through but I can share what I was feeling and what I went through. I’ve tried time and again to write out what happened but have felt that my words would not be adequate enough. I still don’t know if they are adequate but I needed to write this.
April 8, 1993 started out like any other day. I was on Spring break so I am sure I slept in and then just bummed around the house. (Some memories of this time are a bit fuzzy.) It was fairly early in the morning when my sister answered a phone call from one of her friends letting her know that one of my friends, Shantel, had passed away. When she told me, I blew her off and said that’s not true. I thought that her friends were playing a joke and didn’t know what they were talking about. I had no idea it was not a joke until much later in the day.
My parents both got home from work when my dad received a phone call from one of the pastors on staff at our church. Shantel had indeed passed away earlier in the day and Jennifer her best friend was there when it happened. I kept thinking over and over that this can not be true. We just saw each other the night before at youth group. My dad ended the phone call and both my parents told me about the events of the day. I’m sure I cried and hugged them (I honestly can not remember) and then I went into the bathroom where I stayed for as long as possible alone, in shock. Some of our friends were in NY on a missions trip. Did they know? How are they handeling this? I would find out later that they were called and did know and were just as upset and in shock as I was.
My memories of the funeral and grave side service are very few and far between. I know that Michael W Smith’s song “Friends” was played and it took me years to listen to it without crying. My youth pastor, Daryl, spoke and I sat there numb. There are some days it seems like it happened yesterday and then other days it feels like a life time ago. I never thought my sophomore year in high school would be marked with tragedy. I am sure no one ever thinks that.
Life has moved on for everyone that was affected by the loss of Shantel. This year I needed to take some time and do my best to remember. To remember that Shantel’s life may have been cut short but I know without a doubt she loved the Lord and one day, we will all see her again.
If you knew Shantel I would love for you to share your memories about that time or any other time that you got to share with her.