Driving home alone in my Jeep after my first date with Shay, I actually said out loud, “I’m going to marry her.” At the time, if she had heard me, she would have disagreed. But, I was persistent and ultimately I was right. We were really still newlyweds when we discovered the pain in her foot was cancer and that her leg would have to be amputated. At that time, we were both afraid she was going to die. We lied on the bed in our condo in midtown and cried for an afternoon. Then we went to Spaghetti Factory. It was surreal sitting in that train car in the middle of the restaurant eating that little bullshit spumoni dessert they give you and facing that daunting news. That memory is as vivid for me now as if it had happened this afternoon. There have been a few other days like that along the way. Not as many as you’d think.

That was twelve years ago. At the time, if we’d been told how much time we would have together, I don’t know if today would have seemed distant or if we would have recognized that it would go by as fast as it did. But, I do know that we would not have done anything differently.

When Shay lost her leg and did not yet have a prosthetic, she would put on a skirt and grab her crutches and we’d go out to the Alsatian restaurant near our house where they sing La Marseillaise on Bastille Day. Vacations were timed around chemo. Shay ran a successful business, sometimes from a hospital bed. She gave me a beautiful son and set him on a path that I know she’d be proud to see if she had the chance. She insisted on making Aidan’s lunch every day (he’s never seen a “Lunchable”.) When she was into Iron Chef, we flew to Philadelphia and ate at Morimoto. Then, it was Top Chef and we spent two days cooking with Hugh Acheson. Right up until the end, she wanted to get someone at HGTV to renovate our bathroom. Why not? She wanted chickens. So we have a coop in our suburban backyard.

She lived hard and she played hard, as they say.

The point is she lived. A lot. As a consequence I did, too. I’m sad about what I’ve lost. And I’m sad about everything she is going to miss. Not just the big stuff either. I’m sad she’s going to miss this year’s HGTV Dream Home or the next season of Orphan Black. Stupid stuff like that. But, I have no regrets or doubts about the way we used the time we had. We made all of those days count.

Shay made sure of it. She used her time wisely. This is especially true where Aidan is concerned. Her imprint is indelible, endearing (and at times even a little frustrating!) I can’t know all the ways this tremendous loss will color his life. But, I know he’s going to be OK. I know he’s growing up surrounded by love and I can see that he embodies all of the traits and values that I admired and loved in Shay. I hope some of those characteristics have rubbed off on me, too. She was an amazing mother, the finest person I ever knew, my best friend, and the love of my life. I miss her terribly.

Shay’s motto was “suck it up and deal with it.” That’s what we’re going to do.

8 thoughts on “Shay

  1. Indeed she did live large as they say. And I never begrudged her for any of it. As I look back over the years, I wish I had lived as adventuresome as Shay. When I first met her at a Mexican joint in Livonia, I detected the limp and inquired. You then mentioned a possible earlier sports (track) injury, which of course turned out to be false. I’m grateful for having her as my daughter-in-law and for giving you and Aidan such joy. The memories shall live forever.

  2. Shay was so clever, so funny and so enjoyable. I will miss her and we will all miss her. Justin and Aidan – you have Ernie and my condolences.

  3. Well holy shit!! I’m sitting here bawling over the fact that I will not have the opportunity to meet Shay face to face here on Earth. I’m being selfish, I know. I am so very grateful for what I was able to share with her she was my hero in my darkest days and will continue to to be for ever more. My deepest sympathies to you and Aidan and to all her friends and family. It is a great loss, but the world IS a better place for having her, even if it was only for a little while.



  4. I just woke up pretty weepy this morning. I kinda knew the impact was kick in that way.

    Shay was so special that I made sure to never lose touch with her after college. And even though I never met you or Aidan, there was no doubt how much she loved and treasured you both.

    I remember my first spring break, she brought me home to meet her mom, dad and brother because I had no where else to go. Pretty special for a 19 year old to think to open her family to someone she only knew for a few months. We drove to New Orleans from Mobile where Trent was living at the time to see the post Mardi Gras mess. She introduced me to so much.

    She didn’t lose. She fought so that lives of others will be better. I am blasting her blog to others so that she will always live through us.

    Yes. Fuck cancer. I’m about to train in order to run it off the planet.

    Cheers to Shay. And thank you for being part of her life.

    <3 Danielle

  5. I was fortunate to know Shay when I lived in Atlanta. She shaped my messy financial life so I was able to retire 10 yrs ago and move to Texas. I was talking with her a few days ago about increasing an investment after the holidays. Said she would get back to me with some ideas. What a shock, this hurts, I admired her for who she was, all she has done and a friend. I enjoyed our phone conversations cause they weren’t all business. I enjoyed discussing with her about her dysfunctional family. Travel photos were a plus. I appreciated her concern for my wife. I’ll will miss her.

    If someone could post an address for me to send a Mass card, it would be appreciated or email it.

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