How do we sum up a beautiful life in a few paragraphs? It is very difficult. How do we sum up the love we all felt for Shannon? Impossible!
Shannon May (Casey) Szameitat, age 34, passed away gracefully and quietly on September 22, 2015, in Louisville, CO, following a courageous battle with melanoma for over four years.
Shannon was born August 19, 1981, in Portland, OR. She moved with her family to Flagstaff AZ, Cypress CA, Rohnert Park, CA, and Reno, NV before marrying her college sweetheart, Peter. She attended Ursuline High School in Santa Rosa, CA, before moving to Reno where she graduated from Robert McQueen High School in Reno, developing a lifelong love for English writing and literature. She was awarded both the Presidential and Millennium Scholarships enroute to a bachelor's degree in English through the University of Nevada, Reno, Honors Program.
At UNR Shannon became a Resident Assistant in the residence halls where she fell in love with Peter Szameitat. They became inseparable soulmates who complimented each other in every important way. Shannon was more social and extroverted; Peter was more reserved and thoughtful. It was a perfect match. They joined their lives in such beautiful ways, exploring and growing and challenging each other to grow. They saved enough money to take a five-month epic, tightly budgeted trip in a 1994 minivan named Eileen, up through the northwest, across the USA to New England, down to Florida, and back home across the south and southwestern states. Shannon and Peter fished and photographed people and nature and merged all of their photos and videos to music on a DVD that reminds us every day of how joy filled their lives.
Shannon and Peter were married in 2005 in the most beautiful wedding one could imagine. It was them. Full of joy and love and dance. Shannon made a point of creating "a child play area" complete with art activities so the little kids would not get bored.
They moved after the wedding to pursue their next dream, graduate school in Boulder, CO. Shannon earned two masters degrees (in Linguistics and Speech Pathology) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Shannon became a speech pathologist, specializing in deaf and hard of hearing, at Children's Hospital Colorado. It was no accident that she learned sign language at the age of four in a Flagstaff preschool and continued with college credit in ASL when she was 12. She was born to excel in and love the practice of Speech Pathology with children.
Shannon and Peter were blessed by the news of her pregnancy in late 2010. Unfortunately and sadly, she was first diagnosed late in her pregnancy with melanoma, resulting in two operations while still pregnant. The latter lasted over 6 hours when she was 8 months pregnant. Thus the proud parents decided their little girl should be named after three strong and courageous women: Peter's grandmother, Shannon's grandmother, and Shannon's maid of honor.
Shannon's heroic struggle has been chronicled in an online blog called "Sunshine and Shadows." She has been followed by many, many people who have in turn shared how she has helped them. One example: "Shannon was special not only to those of us who knew her personally but also to those who knew her through her story. As she so gracefully navigated through an eloquently narrated life with cancer she befriended others on their own respective cancer journeys, sharing her experience, offering wisdom, encouragement, love and support. She was a brave warrior and a compassionate friend."
Shannon was moved to hospice in February, 2015, expected to pass at any time. For reasons no doctor could explain, she walked out the front door and proceeded to embrace what she called "bonus time," six months of unbridled passion for life as she checked off all of her bucket list. We can only speculate why she got better; some say prayer, some say the universal love that she inspired, and other says she wasn't yet done teaching Emmie how to live life. In that bonus time the family enjoyed Disneyland, a summer garden, Emmie's 4th birthday, a train ride to San Francisco, their 10th wedding anniversary and vow renewal, her brother PJ's beautiful wedding with Emmie as flower girl, her 34th birthday, and Emmie's baptism. Equally important, she continued to write in her journals for her loved ones and posterity.
Shannon is survived by the loves of her life, husband Peter and daughter Emmie; parents Gretchen and John Casey; brother Patrick "P.J." (Heather) Casey; Peter's parents, Paula and Mike Szameitat; and Peter's brother, Eric. Also considered family are the many, many people, too numerous to list, who have supported Shannon in achieving her bucket list with unbridled love and generosity during the past four and a half years. You know who you are and to all of you we offer our deepest gratitude.
A Celebration of Life will take place on Saturday, October 3, 2015, at Capitol Heights Presbyterian Church, 1100 Fillmore St, Denver, CO 80206 (street parking only). Livestreaming will take place at www.comf5.com/live/live-connections and also be available on demand for the remainder of October at that website.
Donations to support four-year-old Emmie and her father can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank through the "Shannon Szameitat Memorial Fund." Online donations can be made at https://www.youcaring.com/peter-szameitat-438353. College funds (529 tax deductible) for Emmie have also been established; contact a family member for details.
To send flowers to Shannon's family, please visit our floral section.