New Year's Isn't Coming (OS Archive - 2010)

As we stood out on the sunny meadow last July at our god-daughter's wedding reception, my husband and I sipped champagne and gazed at all the beautiful young adults, including our sons, gathered to celebrate.

In my memory, this entire wedding day was filtered through a golden glow.

The bride was radiant and lovely; we watched as her shy husband's gaze followed her throughout the afternoon, as if he could hardly believe his luck at marrying such an angel. We watched as their friends laughed, offered congratulations, danced without care into the evening.

Beautiful Bride's girlfriends were visions that day, each arrayed in flowing gossamer gowns and topped with golden halos of hair, no matter what the actual hair color, shining brightly as only grown children raised in good health do in this particular way.

As we are wont to do, Husband and I spent most of that reception observing. We are this type of partier. Possibly because I am a mother of unwed sons, so this gathering of girls was an alien experience-- in memory it was because their beauty was hard not to notice-- I spent most of that time rejoicing in these young women:  their beauty and grace, their lives still to unfold ahead of them, their easy laughter and intimacy with each other.

They shined. I cannot emphasize that enough.

Most of these young adults had grown up together here in this far northern corner of California, as my sons would have with them if we hadn't moved away a decade ago, beckoned by elderly family and better income back in Georgia. While we live several hours away now that we're out west again, this area is still home to us. These families are our friends and family, our children and theirs were young together here-- they played together, were on sports teams together, attended school together.

Of the entire year of 2010, my favorite memories are of this golden day, enhanced six months later-- two weeks ago-- when I saw our god-daughter again and was thrilled to see marriage suits her. She radiated contentment. 

Then came this week, as I watched the morning news and heard the news of a missing snowboarder. I didn't give it much thought, other than the vague, "Oh, that's too bad, hope they find her..." 

Then yesterday afternoon, my dearest friend of all, mother of our god-daughter, called. The first words she said were, "Our immediate family is alright.."  

I froze.

"What happened?" I asked with inner dread.

And I heard the news again that there was a snowboarder who had been missing for two days at Tahoe, that her body had just been found...and then I heard it was Shawnte. One of the beautiful girls from the wedding last summer. She was twenty-five years old. 

She and her friends, many of the golden group at the wedding, were snowboarding on an advanced slope, when Shawnte got separated. The others got to the lodge, but Shawnte wasn't with them. The weather conditions steadily grew worse. Her body was found in a tree well two days later.

Beautiful Bride and her new husband are on their honeymoon in Hawaii right now, they've been told the news. They just want to come home.

Sometimes, suddenly, the world changes.

Like an alchemist's triumph reversed, gold has become lead. 

The tears fall. 


 Shawnte Marie Willis   1985-2010 

RATE: 29

DECEMBER 31, 2010 3:35PM

This is all so sad.. I send hugs and love
Life comes and goes.. Sometimes it goes way too quickly.
Nothing but love for you and your family.
Oh my. Fate does have a way of keeping us humble. My sincere condolences, Anna.
Oh, that is sad. I am glad she is remembered here by you and surely by others as a beautiful golden girl who lived life fully. That will never change.
This is just too tragic for a meaningful comment! I am so damned sorry!
So very, very sad. I'm so sorry to hear about this tragedy.
Oh no. I'm so sorry.
Here I was thinking, this beautiful sunny morning, how perilous it all is.
Then you put it into words.
I'm so sorry. Just Thinking, you're just right.
Let's reflect on the Golden Angel, and choose to take care.
from golden to tragic in an instant. i'm so very sorry. this is really terrible news.
Thank you Linda, Life offers no contract of longevity, does it? 
oryoki: I had to write, having her life end as a ten second news blip...I just had to write.
JD: too.
Appreciated, Unbreakable, trilogy... thanks for coming by...
Kim: It's strange how quickly Life can turn, thank you for your kind words. There has been enough of this sudden twist of Fate that our family ALWAYS hugs goodbye when we leave each other's company. By the way, your Tom Waits and more clips consoled me last night over at the truckstop. : )
Life can be so damn cruel sometimes. It really tests you and sometimes I don't know how people go on. I am so sorry about your friend. Just a child really. Heartbreaking!
I am very sorry for your loss. Everyday we experience the eclipse of what we think we know. It can be and is suddenly all pulled away from us, what we know, what we think, our reality. I am very sorry for your loss.
femme, Bonnie: Much appreciated, thank you for your kind words.
I didn't expect the end and now my heart feels like lead. My sincere condolences to the golden girl's family. ♥
Thanks, scanner, she was just a child, really...
Sheila: Wise words you have, thank you. Shawnte was not one our close friends' child, but she was very close to our god-daughter, and the juxtaposition of last summer and today is a shock. She was the girl we noticed to be shy and very sweet....
Tears here. I have a daughter her age.. how tragic, sending you love across the miles here.
It almost seems as if the seemingly golden are the most vulnerable. This was very sad and powerfully written. I am sorry.
fusun: Me too! Sorry to share.... I just had to write.
Good for anyone to remember. We can be gone in an instant, any instant. God called her home? Well, maybe. I truly wish I believed that. Awful thing this is..
Thank you rita, it hits close to home just to have a similar age to one's own in a tragedy, doesn't it? I ache for my god-daughter and her friends...
So sad. I'm glad you were able to write about it, though. Sometimes that helps, at least a little...All love to her friends and family.
Sincere sympathy. I care.
So sad, so horrible...I just keep erasing words now so will just say I am so very sorry.
Sometimes, I think, the noticing of gold as and when it comes is one of our most precious gifts to hold. Am thinking of you and all you love in such a time as this. Know that as you share this sadness, you share as well the gift of reminding us to honor moment by moment all we love.
So tragic. Everyone up here is so shocked and depressed over this. So many knew her or of her. We lost someone very close to us a few years ago to a Springtime avalanche on the West Shore at Maggie's Peak. These things seem to happy every year. Horrible, unimaginable and so sad for those her knew her or others who have gone this way before her. Off trail boarding or skiing is so tempting but it is more perilous than most can fathom. Thoughts and prayers with her family this day and many to come.
Just Thinking, I delighted in your description of the overwhelming beauty you observed. Likewise saddened by the overwhelming tragedy. The absolute worse kind of blow. Life changed forever in a few seconds. So sorry.
Cathy: I have not heard they were off trail, just advanced as a local might hear more than is generally being told...
I hear you, fernsy, it does sometimes seem that way...thanks for your kind words!
trig: I appreciate very much your kind words also, I don't know how her family believed, but if it's a comfort for them...
Thanks for coming by : )
Felisa: Nice to see you! You're right, writing helps me immensely : )
Hi and Happy New Year's to the folks up your way!
jane: Isn't it? I feel for her family so deeply today.
scupper and lunchlady: Thanks so much, I do appreciate your words and caring.
annaliese1: Your words are like golden balm-- poetry flows from was a lovely moment in time, noticing those golden moments at the time is key, isn't it? : )

If her family ever reads this, all of your kindness will be such comfort. It is the heartache my god-daughter and her friends and family are experiencing that caused me to write, and I couldn't see her only as a ten second news story, without describing a sense of her life and a shining day she had last summer.
I am so sorry. I followed this story on our local news hoping for a good outcome. I am glad you have pleasant memories of her. Tragic.
May her soul shine over all of us. I am so sorry. What can be said?
just thinking....I truely felt that whole write THROUGH you, I could feel all that you felt. When Ashley and Madi were born, Mark(oldest son) and their mother were not married and broke up, actually. He and I will be flying to New Orleans in 1 week to see the girls. Their mom remarried and had 3 more lovely kids. Mark, 5 yrs ago met Carina and they had that real wedding you talk about and reception at the country club, never have I been so proud as I danced with him for the Mother of the groom dance. I feel what you felt but Im sure you have many other joys they have given you. 
I feel such sorrow for the lovely girl who lost her life. One never gets over those things, so sorry for this hurt in your life. I do get on my knees and thank God for our health and safety. Hugs.
I held my breath from paragraph 6 on, because that's when I knew where this post was headed. How awful, JT, for all involved. How small this world is.

I cannot even comment , the tears are covering my eyes. -R-
So sorry for your loss. 
Nicely written piece. I look forward to reading more.
How very sad. When I read the news story about her body being found, my first thought was about how her family must feeling, losing her at such a young age. My next thought was "at least she was doing something she loved when she left this earth."
my condolences. what a terrible incident.
In a heartbeat...thngs change forever. Prayers to families, friends, and thanks to you for this telling and remembrance...My daughter is just one year younger. I can't imagine. Love to you, yours and all involved in this too soon passing. xo
Aw. No. I hope she experienced great joy in what she was doing just before so random an accident...
Oh jeez... this is a wonderful tribute. I wondered if there was a picture of her from the wedding. Lead. For sure. Awful when I heard this and now even worse.
Just Cathy: Life can change so quickly, can't it? Thanks for coming by...
Scarlett: How kind! I wrote from a different level this time...I appreciate your words : )
lshmoopie, susan, cindy, Lezlie, Christine, Ira, bike, Cyril, Muse, linnnn, tg, kate: Thank you so much for your kind words, you are much appreciated!
Oh, my God! Like an alchemist's triumph reversed, gold has become lead. What a life, oh, what a life we see. This is sad beyond believe. I will tip a glass in a toast to a little girl I never met. How terribly sad. Life is so fleeting....
Dr Spudman: Thanks for the toast to a young woman gone too soon...I appreciate you coming by : ) especially when it's a sad one....
How sad. At least it sounds like Shawnte was loved and loved her friends. My thoughts and prayers to her family and loved ones.
Beautifully written and so poignant, JT. I'm sorry I missed this when it first came out.
Oh dear. That's terrible. Very sad - your post is beautifully-written.

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