I met her in high school when we were in the same French class together. I could not have known then that she would become not only a wonderful friend, but a family member through marriage that was crafted beautifully by the powers that be. When I started to date her brother, she and I slowly but surely started to become more than friends, more than casual classmates. Along the road, little by little we learned more about each other and the more we learned, the more we liked what we saw before us. Then in 2004 I convinced her to meet me in Vegas for some much needed girl time, away from the kids time, not thinking time with some gambling and Australian male stripper time. (That show, The Thunder From Down Under, was attended to celebrate my cousin's 40th Birthday, the reason for the trip to Sin City.) That weekend was what solidified our relationship, rather it catapulted us into more than just in laws. I boarded the plane that Sunday evening knowing the true meaning of having a sister in life.
Thanksgiving week of 2006 was spent with my husband's immediate family on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. Neither my husband or myself had been out of the United States before, much less been on that large of a ship. It was the trip of a lifetime, spent lazing around with family ... watching fantastic memories unfold right before our eyes. Our first stop on the jaunt was in Nassau, Bahamas. It was the perfect island day with sun, clouds, warmth and amazing arrays of color everywhere the eye could see. After sightseeing, the kids could not wait to get to the beach and hang out in the ocean. The beach was bizarre to me because instead of sand it was more like tiny broken shells rolled over the landscape. It was sometimes sharp to step on leaving all of us to walk cautiously towards the brilliant teal water. I could tell that the ocean was rough that day, even making a mental note that I could physically see the tell tale signs of rip currents. Bodde and my niece were both 6 years old and skinny, and Chase at least a head smaller at the age of 3. Living in California, I respect the ocean. She has a mind of her own and you never know what is happening under the surface so I made sure to caution all the adults of the dangers and the need to keep the kids safe.
Most of us were in a group standing about 10-14 feet away from the water. My husband and father in law were in the water and we could all see that even they, grown men, were having difficulty standing knee high in the water. The ocean was churning something wicked. The younger kids were playing on the beach just to the left of where I was standing, and Chase was literally about two feet to my left, far away from where the waves were lapping the shore. Suddenly and with urgency, Shannon leaped between myself and my mother in law, sprinting towards the water. I turned with camera in hand and was thinking I should capture the spontaneity of her spirit when I realized Chase was gone. I heard her shouting over the loud waves ... "Bruce! ... Chase! ... Get him!" I followed her calls to the wave and saw nothing but feet and hands turning over and over again in the cylinder that was churning violently. I was frozen. I could not move even though I was screaming at my body to go to the water. I watched as Chase's body flipped over and over again at the mercy of the ocean.
She never stopped running, right into the water with no regard as to how she would fair against the mighty waves. Finally my legs heard my brain and I ran to the water's edge watching as my husband and his sister tried desperately to grab Chase's body. They got a hold of his arms but the sunscreen made his skin as slippery as an eel and just when they both got a hold of him, he slithered from their grip and went back under. Finally, with all of their might, Shannon took one arm and my husband the other, they threw Chase as hard as they could towards the beach. I prayed that Chase would be breathing when I grabbed him from the water. I was terrified that it had been too long, that he was not able to hold his breath as long as he did. Coughing and scared, his body met my hands and I held on and backed off the water as fast as I could. He looked at me and started crying and all I could do was say ... "Thank you God! Thank you God!" As tears filled my eyes I realized that my sister in law had just saved my son's life.
This is why I call her my hero. I know that she would do anything to help her family, her friends and her kids. She thinks of everyone else first, never selfish in her kindness. She is beautiful both inside and out and always counts her blessings. She is just an amazing person and I know that I hit the jackpot when she came into my life.
So, in honor of my hero's Birthday I am hosting a giveaway of my book The Best For You. I know that there are everyday heroes that do not get world wide recognition but mean the world to someone, like Shannon means to me.
Here is how to enter..... tell me who your personal hero is. If you would like to explain why, I would enjoy that. If you choose not to, that is fine too. I would just like to spotlight some folks who have put themselves aside for those that they love.
Giveaway will end this Sunday, February 6th at 11:59 pm.
Happy 40th Shannon! May you always know just how much you are loved by all who know you!