It is interesting how bits and pieces of the last two years seem to float in and out of my memory; almost like clouds on a lazy afternoon. I have gone back and forth on whether to write this post. It is extremely personal, but there is such a strong message that must be shared.
Shane and his Bravo brothers were given leave time in March and April before they deployed to Afghanistan in May of 2010. In late March, Shane came home for a few days before heading to Las Vegas with some of his Bushmaster brothers.
Shane was fairly quiet this time, I wondered if it was his way of coming to grips with the fact he was soon going to be deployed. Shane did not want any large gatherings; instead he decided on small visits with family and friends. Shane did not pick up and play any of his guitars. I guess he needed to separate this civilian life from his military life.
Just Shane and I were home the afternoon of “the Talk.” Shane was at his computer and I was at mine. Our computers are perpendicular to each other – the conversation started with our backs to one another. “Mammy,” he said, “we need to have a talk.” And with that my body froze – I did not want to have this talk, I did not want to listen, I did not want the words to come out of Shane’s mouth.
“Okay, Buddy – I will listen,” and with that we turned and faced each other. The tears were already streaming down my face, and Shane told me that this needed to be taken care of. I realized that my crying would only make it harder on Shane, so I found some courage and dried my eyes. I grabbed the first piece of paper I could find – a back of an envelope.
Shane told me that we needed to have this talk, just in case he did not make it home. Shane told me that I could plan his funeral and his funeral Mass; he felt that I would know what to do.
Then he added one thing, “Mammy, there are two songs I want played sometime during my funeral. The first song is “It’s Alright” by Guns N’ Roses and the second song is “Fix You” by Coldplay.
I nodded throughout the talk and tucked the envelope in a safe spot – just out of reach, but close enough to readily grasp. We survived the talk; I believe there was a weight lifted from Shane’s shoulders.
Shane left for Las Vegas a few days later. You know the saying, “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas,” – that is true for my knowledge of Vegas. Only Shane and his brothers know the stories behind that trip, but I think this photo speaks volumes!
My lecture came in the form of an email. It was sent on Friday, April 02, 2010 at 3:57 AM.
I’m here in my suite still alive and not that drunk getting ready to grab a little sleep before I check out….A dealer carded me saying I had an angel face. I replied with an angel of death. A deal with the devil, I suppose…. And hopefully, I come back ok to live out my new life. But I tell ya Mammy, and I know this will make you cry, but I can’t hold it in anymore. I feel like I’m going to get killed over there…. I’m going to try my best to come home, but we shall see. I hope it’s just my nerves, time will tell. But you need to be strong and drive on, you’d disappoint me if you never got over it. I love you, Mammy. And it’s ok, because sometimes it isn’t always someone else’s son.”
And when the time came, I remembered where that envelope was, and we honored Shane’s wishes. Kurt, Beth, and I planned the funeral and funeral Mass with care and consideration for Shane. “It’s Alright” was played at the funeral home after the prayer service. “Fix You” was played during Shane’s funeral Mass by one of Beth’s dearest friends. Eric, with his soulful voice, sang while his fingers strummed Shane’s acoustic guitar.
I am ever so grateful that Shane and I had/have an open line of communication. It is important to build strong relationships with your children. Kurt and I are both blest to have wonderful relationships with Beth and Shane. It is important to be able to talk and listen to dreams and fears; hopes and aspirations; and life and death.
You were right Shane; it wasn’t someone else’s son that day in November. It was you, my son, my Shane Michael, my Moe. I will honor your wishes; I will be strong and drive on. I will not disappoint you…
As I continue to put, “one foot in front of the other.”
Always and forever,
Shane’s Mammy and Beth’s Momma