"Thank you for time - 'healer of all wounds'
Thank you for time to grow and evaluate
Thank you for the ability to become braver and more decisive with time
Thank you for time to prepare
Thank you for time to breathe
Thank you for time to be alone
Thank you for time to just be"
August 1997 ~ Rushed home from work to catch the last few minutes of Oprah. 'A gratitude journal will change your life.' Grumbling about "what do we have to do now because Miss Oprah says so", Shannon rushed with me to the bookstore to purchase 2 Gratitude Journals before they sold out.
May 1998 ~ In a soggy suitcase from a fateful trip that same Gratitude Journal would continue its journey to change my life.
Do you think that Shannon gave one seconds' thought to who might read her journal nine months after she first put pen to page? No. Did she spend hours making sure her words were perfect or her penmanship legible? Again No. In her perfectly expressive scrawl, she thought about what in that day had made her heart sing, or mind wander or her spirit question. I'm sure it never crossed her mind that she might not complete every page, fill every line, but she never missed a day. There were no excuses, she was never too busy or too tired to acknowledge what mattered.
I sometimes think that she was watching over my shoulder as I used her words, from that journal to share her wit and wisdom with friends and family at her memorial service, and create the bookmarks that we included in the thank you notes that followed. I felt her with me as I started writing to the people mentioned by name in her journal, the people who touched her life, inspired her or entertained her or gave her direction. Gary Greene, Steven King, Oprah, Rosie, Jabberwocky and Germanna, to name a few.
A young producer, Sandi, called to see if we might share Shannon's story on an Oprah show about Gratitude. Filming would be on June 17th, my Mother's and my Niece's birthday and would air on July 19th, my Nephew's birthday. They were all the signs I needed to believe that this was all part of some magical plan Shannon was orchestrating on the "other side" to help me meet Miss O.
April 2000 ~ Another young producer, Andrea, arrived at our home with a film crew from Northern Virginia to tape a three minute segment "Remembering Her Spirit". I sat on Shannon's bed talking to strangers about how amazing she was. We were still just trying to find our way. After the show aired, we got a call from Oxygen. They were receiving so many requests for bookmarks that they couldn't acknowledge all of them and wondered if we had a website that they could refer people to. The blessing from Heaven was that we had met another Angel's Mom who was willing to put a website together so that we could respond. It could only hold 500 emails at once and we had to start printing them so that we didn't lose anyone as they fell off the technological deep end.
For months we were spending every spare moment printing, cutting, laminating, packaging and mailing bookmarks to people in every state, Canada, New Zealand and the Phillipins. Our grief was buffered by the incredibly kind words of strangers who opened their hearts to Shannon and were inspired to express their own gratitude.
December 2013 ~ Almost fourteen years and 300,000 bookmarks later. Oprah has moved to a network of her own. Sarah Ban Breathnach has made and lost her literary fortune. Articles shared in newpapers and magazines are turning yellow and I have to be very careful with the Gratitude Journal, that like me has aged and frayed a little around the edges, and our Shannon is still radiating. By some perfectly brilliant magic, we are still out there and friends are still touched and touching us in return. We are still making bookmarks and reading wonderful uplifting letters from people who never met Shannon but recognize in her simple, wonderful words of appreciation, what can change our lives and lift our spirits.
This morning I answered emails from new and very special friends who saw that three minute segment that has defied time and space and growth and change. I'm never sure that I will say the right things to ease their sadness or share their joys, but I try to be present. I try to express to them, how much their efforts to find us, and their fondness for Shannon, mean. That the time they spend searching the internet, or writing the letter lets me know that Shannon is still there, still doing what she had always hoped, "touching lives and making a difference."
You Never Know. You never know what ripple effect your actions or thoughts or kindnesses are going to have. You never know when a smile in passing will transform a moment. You never know what impact your words, written quickly in the quiet before bedtime will have. You never know.
Or do we? Is it possible that when we take the time to really feel that soft quiver in our hearts, when our eyes well up for no apparent reason or we feel the faintest touch on our hand or cheek from some invisible guest... is it possible that in that moment, when Heaven and Earth are one...we do know?
I think so... and it's amazing.