Part Two: Flaming Phoenix

Getting stable is one challenge, staying stable is another, and my sister made it look easy.

Within 10 years of being physically healthy, mentally free, and emotionally motivated, my sister seemed on top of the world. She had a few cars, a plot of land, a nice home, a beautiful baby boy, and a caring husband. It appeared to everyone that she finally got the life and family she always wanted – even better, she was finally studying to become a Pharmacy Tech while working for Winn-Dixie as a Service Area Manager.

Shannon, being constantly involved with medical issues as a child, had always been told by everyone (except me, it’s why I’m her favorite person – not that she knows that yet) that she should get into the medical field as a career. They figured since she was so familiar with medical conditions and procedures that it would be easy for her, but they didn’t seem to realize that her strength was just a shield – not a state of being. I always told her she should become a teacher since she was a big kid anyway and liked to tell people how things are supposed to work (whereas I like to make things work in ways they shouldn’t…have you ever turned a touch lamp on with a universal remote control from 1999? Kinda makes it go *poof* – well, more like BANG!…Whoops.)

What Shannon actually ended up doing was something in between. She got to work in medicine, while teaching the patients the details of the new medications they were receiving. Everyone is still so very proud of how far she’s come. She has an A.S. in Business Administration and Management, is a CPhT licensed in The State of Florida, and is pursuing a B.S. in Business from FSU. it seemed like life was finally going where she wanted.

Then Hurricane Michael hit.

Shannon lost everything. She and her son were in the Kentucky/Ohio area when the hurricane struck, but her husband was in the house sleeping in the master bathtub with their 3 cats and their puppy when it all happened. (He knew it would be bad, but I don’t think he expected to wake up to a tree in the living room.)

Shannon filed a claim with her insurance company and received what she needed to get started. She contracted Walter Family Homes, LLC, to build her house, and set up a GoFundMe to replace necessitates such as furniture and other immediates until she could get things rolling. She had a plan and was on it immediately.

Then, halfway through building, Walter Family Homes took all of her insurance money and filed for bankruptcy. She just lost her only chance to get her life back.

Next thing we know, Shannon is spiraling. She hasn’t gotten along with her husband in years, and they mutually decided to divorce. Having learned from my own mistakes at court previously, I helped her get it done. Although it took a while because of the pandemic, it was really finished in 2 hearings without much of a fight from either side.

On top of this, Shannon was staying with a friend and stopped taking care of herself the way she should’ve. She wasn’t sleeping well because of the stress, and was in so much pain from her blood clot that she couldn’t work anymore and had to quit her job. Within a year of being where she wanted to be, Shannon lost ten years worth of sweat and blood. She lost her house, her husband, and her job. The only good thing was she still had primary custody of her son.

Shannon has been going through it. She started living on credit cards, tried to go back to college but couldn’t stay focused, tried to find a way to get her house finished but couldn’t, and couldn’t seem to find new love because she was so drained from life that she couldn’t put into a relationship what she wanted to. We all tried to help her, but she didn’t want to be dependent on someone else. She wanted to do things herself – after all, she did it before in worse circumstances, right? She came back from the edge of death and grew into her best self, she knows how to do this!

But she didn’t realize how tired she was. All our lives we have been fighting for something better, all our lives we’ve lost and lost and lost. We’ve lost people, places, things, hope, love, dreams…but we always found it again – through Shannon.

Shannon was the one who pinched us to keep us from crying, making us laugh instead. Shannon was the one who would make a complete fool of herself to make any situation seem lighter. Shannon was the one who would pay out of her own pocket to give us experiences together. She was creative, always coming up with fun things for the kids to do, great places for the family to visit together, and hilarious yet stupid TV shows and music (I am looking at you, South Park) to make us laugh and joke the entire time.

My sister never let us succumb to our worst selves, yet she refused to let us pull her back from hers.

Until now.

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