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Thursday, October 01, 2009 

Shawn

I haven't been able to muster up the ability to write this post for a while, but here goes.

One of my best friends died suddenly, and frankly, in a fucking infuriating way, in December. He was 38 and he, quite literally, drank himself to death. How I found out was fucked up, too, but whatever.

Shawn and I met in high school. He was the younger brother of one of my best friends, Aaron. Shawn and I hit it off immediately. He was a year younger than Aaron and me, and though he at 6'5" towered over my 5'3", I very much considered him the "little" brother I never had (but always wanted!)

Growing up, Aaron and Shawn hated each other. This was exacerbated by the fact that they had to share a room. When I went to hang out at their place, I had to be there to visit one or the other specifically, because they just didn't get along.

After high school graduation (where I marched arm in arm with Aaron), I moved to LA for university, and Shawn was stuck in Tacoma/Puyallup until he could move to Seattle as soon as he could after his own graduation.

Shawn came out to me when he was 18 or 19. He had been afraid to tell me, because he thought I would judge him harshly. I remember my feelings being hurt that he thought I would ever think badly of him because: A) I knew; and B) I loved him. Many tears were shed. Such drama!

A few months later, Aaron asked me if Shawn was bisexual. In my head, I was thinking ("Uh, hell NO!"), but I just replied that he should probably ask him that himself.

I know this is rambling, so I'll just try to get to the point

Shawn drank. A lot. He was a fixture at the legendary Neighbours on Capitol Hill even before he tended bar there. He was seen as a party boy, and to some extent, that was true - but he was much more than that.

He was a hard worker. He worked three jobs. He was a very generous, empathetic person. For many reasons his chosen family became more of a presence in his life than the family he grew up in. I was lucky enough to be one of the chosen. But he was also sad and lonely, and used work and booze as forms of escape.

Shawn died of acute pancreatitis brought on by chronic alcoholism.

When Aaron finally told me how he died - and it was an awkward conversation because, while Shawn and I never grew apart, Aaron and I did (I have only seen him twice in the several years he's lived near me. Once, when Shawn was visiting, so it was inevitable, and once by happenstance at the airport. I didn't even know he lived here until Shawn mentioned it.)

Aaron loved his brother, but still harbors some resentment about "family" being replaced by "friends". He did tell me that when Shawn was pronounced dead that the first thought he had was "Oh, my God. I have to tell Buzzgirl." Somehow, that made me even sadder.

I don't post many photos of myself here, but I have a few of Shawn and me together from the last time he was in San Francisco. It wasn't the last time I saw him (I visited him in Seattle), but we look so happy/goofy.


In this first one, the Polaroid is a little mangled, but I particularly love the shot of just his eyes and my cleavage:



The differences in our heights is almost comical:



I love you, Shawn. I am so sorry for all your pain, and hope that you are now free.

I am so sorry for your loss. I too have someone close to me that recently was in the hospital for the same exact thing and reason for it. So, I can understand how you feel a little bit.

You take care of yourself.

This was a beautiful eulogy. Through your words, I can see how much he meant to you.

Take care.

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