Student remembers friend


Credit: Emma Miller

Junior Katie Hawley poses with friend and former Rogers High School junior Shannon Cheek. Cheek was diagnosed with a type of brain tumor — a glioma — in 2012 during her freshman year and passed away Aug. 28 of this year. Hawley reflects on the personal impact left in her life by Cheek. Surviving family members of Cheek’s include her father and sister.

I will never forget the summer of 2013, the summer between my sophomore and junior year.  The summer was filled with the bright happy moments of mission trips, bonfires, and endless friendship, but it was also filled with the harsh and painful loss of one of my best friends.

Coming back from a mission trip is never an easy thing to do, and the one I took that summer was even harder because of a terrible accident that had happened near the end.  Though I had not been in the vehicle and was not injured, it was emotionally painful to watch some of my closest friends be in such pain and be so scared. Sunday July 7th I arrived home from the trip and that night made a comment to my parents about how one of my friends was finished with her chemotherapy.  My parents got that look on their faces, the look that just sucks the happiness right out of you; it was that moment I knew that she was done with her chemo because she was done.  A few days before my parents had gotten a call from my friend’s dad, she had not been feeling well since her chemo had ended, the doctors ordered an MRI which revealed that her brain tumors had returned and there were more than she had ever had.

The next night I went over to her house, I expected to be overcome with sadness, but when I was with her I was nothing but happy.  I painted her nails since it was our favorite activity, and we just talked.  That’s how most of the summer went, I spent about every day to every other day over at their house just talking with her, doing her nails, and sometimes just sitting in silence watching a movie.  Through make a wish my friend, her dad, sister, another close friend, and I got to go up to Seattle for day and night.  We were treated as if we were rich and famous, staying in a fancy hotel, having a limo and driver, getting to ride the big wheel, and of course eating dinner at the space needle.  In the future it is not going to be all of the fancy aspects that I am going to remember.  I am going to remember that she wore my jacket the entire time, that whenever I pushed her in her wheelchair I would raise one arm and yell “for Narnia”, and that in the morning she was so tired and didn’t want to get up that she repeatedly insisted that everyone was to use the bathroom to get ready before her, so that she could stay in bed longer.

Throughout the summer a few parties were thrown by myself and a couple other friends, allowing her school and church friends to come over and see her without it being to awkward for them.  It was an amazing experience to see just how many people were touched by her life here on earth, and how many of them wanted to be with her till the end.  The final party happened the Saturday before she passed away.  There was an overwhelming amount of kids who showed up and during the party I promised I would come back as soon as I could so that we could have some time alone together.  That Tuesday I dyed a strip of my hair pink because it is her favorite color and her nick name is even “pinky”.  I went over to her house afterwards to show it to her.  At this point in her progression she slept all day, but we knew she could always hear us.  That Tuesday was also the day I decided was perfect to give her my “it is okay” talk.  I told her it is okay for her to go and be with her mom and brother who had preceded her in death, I told her that I will be okay, that I would make sure her dad and sister would be okay, I promised her that we were all going to be okay.  The next night August 28th, 2013 I was at one of my youth group leader’s house for usual Wednesday night barbeque and cards.  I received a call from my dad and he told me that my friend’s dad had called and she had passed away that night.

September 7th only a few days after school started is the day that I attended my best friend’s services.  Everything about her services was perfect; the sanctuary of the church was filled almost to capacity with people wearing pink in her honor.  I read a scripture verse, and her other best friend was one of the eulogists.  Everyone that spoke that day did her life a great honor, the church even had a pink stained glass cross, and when we all looked at it we could feel her presence there.

Being able to have been a part of her life is one of the biggest blessings I have ever received.  She and I did some crazy stuff together, from falling in rivers and chasing flip flops floating away to her taking me to Starlight prom in Seattle.  I was even the one who nick named her pinky after Pinky and The Brain, our favorite TV. show.  Every day I miss her like crazy, but every day it also hurts a little less.  I know she is up there sitting on her mom’s lap, playing her brother, and eating her favorite snack of anything gummy and peach flavored.  I also remember one of the last things I ever told her which was “I’m not going to say goodbye, because goodbye means forever.  I’m simply going to say see you later, because that is only temporary”.