People always say that the friends you make in college will be your friends for life. Freshman year, we were all thrown into a new world, so the only way to survive was to find people to share this new experience with, and these friends quickly become your family. I am lucky enough to say that in my home away from home, Shane was a vital member of my family.
I met Shane the first week of freshman year in Goshen Hall. It was immediately apparent that we would be friends. I was always in awe of his ability to connect to so many different people. Shane was the guy who always made us laugh with his sarcastic remarks and hilarious stories. He always had a way to put a positive spin on situations, and he helped those around him look at life in a more positive way.
As time went on and we all moved on to be sophomores, then juniors, then seniors, a lot of things changed. A lot of people came and went. Yet, Shane always remained. He was always true to himself, and loyal to his friends.
Coming into senior year, we all knew that things were going to change and all of our friends were well aware that the time we had together was precious and dwindling. We were applying to grad schools, preparing for internships and jobs, and trying to get a grasp on how to be adults. We were ready for those changes, but we were not prepared for the biggest change of all — losing Shane.
On Thanksgiving, when we found out Shane was missing, our worlds were flipped upside down, and in the coming days Shane’s friends and family showed their strength, hope, and love. We were all determined to bring Shane home.
I remember people saying to me, “I don’t know how you and your friends are being so strong.” My response was firm, “We have no other choice.” Shane was always there for us, so it was our turn to be there for him, and to stay positive for him.
The 36 days that Shane was missing were grueling to say the least, and while it sometimes made me feel cynical about the world, I also witnessed some amazing acts of kindness and love. From the amount of students who came together for the vigil here at WCU, to all of the people who hung up flyers, it was easy to see the outpouring of love and support from the community. That kind of support is what kept us going, along with the strength of Shane’s family.
We all finished out the semester, entered winter break, celebrated the holidays with our families, rung in the New Year, and we did all of this with a huge piece of our hearts missing. That piece was Shane. While heartbroken, we remained hopeful. [pullquote speaker=”Elizabeth Chiocco”]Thanks for the memories Shane. I know I’ll see you again someday. [/pullquote]
And then on Jan. 3, 2015, Shane was brought home. He wasn’t brought home the way we wanted, but he wasn’t alone anymore. He wasn’t lost. And we all found a sort of peace knowing that.
I wish we had more time with him. I would give anything to play basketball with him again and have him block my shot, or to hear him rag on me for loving country music, or watch him rap along to his favorite songs. Shane’s hugs always made me feel better, and I could sure use one right now.
Through all of the pain, tears, and heartbreak, though I have been able to find a silver lining. The way that Shane’s search and his death brought people together is the same way Shane brought us together when he was still here with us. The group of friends that I am apart of is truly amazing, and while it shouldn’t take a tragedy to appreciate what you have, sometimes it does.
Shane has shown us what it really means to have each other’s backs. He has shown us how to laugh when we can barely force a smile. He has shown us that we need each other, and I think I can speak for all of Shane’s friends when I say we learned some pretty important life lessons in the last few months.
Although nothing would be better than having Shane still with us, the silver lining is the new appreciation we all have for each other. When I was talking to Shane’s best friend Ryan the other day, Ryan said something pretty amazing. He said, “Shane was the glue that held us together, but now he is the cement that will keep us together.” That statement could not be more true, and will resonate with me forever.
My hope for everyone reading this is that you will take a step back and try to see the good in all of life’s tragedies. I know that what I wrote about Shane didn’t do his life justice, but I know he would agree with this advice: tell the people you love that you love them, smile a little bigger, laugh louder, dance like a fool, and never take anyone for granted. As cliché as all of this may sound, life really is short and you never know what tomorrow will bring.
Thanks for the memories Shane. I know I’ll see you again someday.
Elizabeth Chiocco is a fourth-year professional studies major. She can be reached at EC759013@wcupa.edu.