I first met Shauna shortly after Jeff and I got engaged. She and her friend LeAnne invited us to dinner at their Provo apartment. Shauna wore a red bandanna on her head, tied at the base of her neck like a pirate. They served “Forgotten Chicken.” There was plenty for all of us, but for some reason, Shauna and LeAnne didn’t eat. . .they just watched us. I have never been a tidy eater. . .I was very nervous.
Shauna and I laughed about that first meeting many times. Of all people to be nervous about meeting, I didn’t need to worry about Shauna. She’s the sort that likes people. . .cares about people. She has a tender heart with a strong affinity for the weak, the outcast, the underdog.
She met her future husband the summer before Jeff and I were married and she and Jim were married about three months after we were. We have always enjoy their easygoing, affable manners, good humor and cheerful dispositions.
When Shauna and Jim were first married, they got a little dog. I think it was a stray, but they might have been foolish enough to choose it at the pound. They named it Munchkin. Munchkin had very crooked teeth with a distinct under bite and thin, wiry hair. He was just ugly enough for Shauna to love. (No Jim, she made an exception when she chose you!) But he was neither the first nor the last of that sort of Shauna’s bodyguards.
Shauna’s word for anything/one mean or hateful or dishonest was “stinky.” It seems to me that the word implies a temporary condition. My sister-in-law always chose to see people as “being stinky” when they behaved viley, not as ‘worthless,’ hopeless, or ‘no good.’ She could (and did) forgive aggressive and calculated evil.
Not too long ago, something killed a little duck that lived in her feathered menagerie. Jim found it and secretly buried it. He told Shauna that it must have flown off somewhere. I wonder if that duck was waiting on the other side to tell her that Jim lied?
Shauna was dependable and capable. She kept her word. She did not seek the lime light. She had the Stephenson hesitation to be up front and got very nervous about performing. But she did what she had to do, like it or not.
It was only about a year and a half ago when Shauna was 54, that she was diagnosed with a very aggressive type of breast cancer. They believed it had already metastasized by the time they found it. Although the progress of the disease was inhibited by every means possible and she had the best medical attention, going to Stanford for their high class treatments. . .it merely slowed the progress. Even during the most powerful and intense chemo therapy, the cancer grew.
Shauna said she wasn’t nervous about death, but she had seen her father die and dreaded the final struggle. She felt deeply grateful for her husband and children and had peace in her hope in Christ.
Just after Christmas the tests all came back grim. The cancer had spread and there was nothing else that could be done to stop it. Terminal.
Ah, but they were wrong. They understood only the nature of cancer, but not the nature of the human spirit. Shauna’s spirit, the part of that creature that makes her my loving, tender-hearted, funny, hospitable sister-in-law, is not terminal!
The doctors predicted right, too. Yesterday, Shauna separated from her mortal body for a time. She died quietly, just a ceasing of breath releasing her from a cancer-ruined body.
She was received with joy and rejoicing by her dad, her grandparents and other loved ones. The hand that brought her through the veil of mortality was pierced on the cross of Calvary. She is no more ‘terminal’ than a train passing through a dark tunnel. We won’t see her for a time, but in the morning of the first resurrection, she’ll be restored to a glorified, perfect body and will never, never for all eternity, die.
I think yesterday there was also a chorus of gruff yips, clucks, meows and wagging backsides hailing their Beloved Shauna. I have no doubt that her motley crew spread the word, (the way they seemed to do here,) and that the furry welcoming committee had swelled to thousands of Les Miserables… the Mother Theresa of the animal kingdom.
Ah, Shauna, we’ll miss you! Jim will be so lonely without you. Your children and grandchildren, who know even better than I the reach and scope of your love, will ache from your absence.
But then again, now there’s one more person I love waiting on the other side. The sting of death is a little less sharp. My hope in Christ is a little more acute. The joy of the promise of resurrection and eternal families is sweeter yet, and time is a little thing: A little, mortal, fleeting thing. I’ll see you there!