Okay, so…after MANY wasted hours on Facebook reading about the restaurants that my friends are visiting or the antics of their pets, I try to force myself to only peek at social media occasionally.  Because of that, I know a lot of “news” slips by me, but I figure that the things that are important I would probably hear from another source.

Yesterday was a different story.  As I opened Facebook, my eyes landed first thing on the following obituary notice:

“MASHBURN, DANIEL JAMES age 28 of Odenville, AL passed away May 22, 2012. Mr. Mashburn was owner of MUP Communications (Mashburn Uniting People). He is survived by his significant other, Shannon Cable, parents, J. C. and Sharon Mashburn, brother, Jason Mashburn and grandmother, Myrtle Mashburn. The family will receive friends from 1 PM until 3 PM on Sunday, May 27, 2012 at Kilgroe Funeral Home in Leeds. Memorial Service will be held at 3 PM at Kilgroe Funeral Home Leeds Chapel.”

Daniel was the young man with testicular cancer that went through the stem cell transplant with Keith in Indiana.  For 8 weeks we were with them and around them for up to 6 hours a day.  They were Alabama folks and we are Alabama folks, and there was an immediate bond. Daniel breezed through the treatments that gave Keith fits, mainly because he was young and strong.  He was a funny guy, who made us laugh daily and gave the nurses fits.  He rarely did what they asked him to do and often would disappear and show up down the hall somewhere (all of this with a platelet count of below 10,000)! My favorite Daniel story was when he tried to put in his own IV one morning.  I really thought the nurse was going to beat him.

All of this to say, that even though we met them through the most difficult of circumstances, Daniel and Shannon became dear to us.  The four of us were soldiers together in a battle that none of us had signed up for.

I really believe that Shannon is an angel. She and Daniel weren’t married, but at the time had been together for a couple of years.  Perhaps they hadn’t stood before a minister, but their souls were united in a way that I have rarely seen even in married couples.  Shannon had every reason to bolt when her young life was infiltrated with this insidious disease.  No one would have blamed her, I mean, there was no commitment, right?  Wrong.  Shannon was totally committed to Daniel.  He was her life love, her soul mate.  The phrase, “Til death do we part” was etched into the fabric of her being.  It was hard.  He was sick.  She didn’t care.  She loved him.

I remember the last time I saw Daniel and Shannon.  It was in their hospital room and they had just received the news that the stem cell transplant had worked, and all the spots where the cancer had metastasized were clear.  We laughed and cried and cheered.  It had been a LONG 2 months.

I am including an excerpt from my book, where I spoke about Keith’s last encounter with Daniel and Shannon:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

“Before I head to the hospital, I thought I would do a Saturday morning edition and update you on some things.  Last night, Keith called me to relate a really cool story that happened after I left, and I wanted to share it with you.  You remember Daniel and Shannon, the young couple that have been going through this treatment alongside us?  Well, Daniel got good news from his CT scan as well.  His cancer is a little different from Keith’s, and he has to take oral chemo for the next few months, but overall the treatment was very successful for him.  And, being a young whipper-snapper, he has bounced back quicker, so his counts came up to the point that he was released yesterday.

Before they left, they stopped by Keith’s room to tell him goodbye and it turned out to be a really special visit.  We realized a few weeks ago that Daniel and Shannon weren’t married, and Keith jokingly kept offering to marry them in the hospital.  Last night Daniel asked him if he would consider coming to Birmingham and marrying them. Of course Keith said he would love to.  That opened the door for Keith to talk to them very seriously about some spiritual things and beginning their marriage on a firm foundation.  He said it was a great conversation.

Back a few weeks ago after Daniel had the bad reaction to the platelets, Keith talked to him pretty bluntly.  He said, “Man, you almost died. Is there anything spiritually that you need to get in order?”  Daniel assured him that his spiritual life was in order, but it was interesting that last night he told Keith that he felt like Keith had been brought here during this time for him.

Of course, all of this made Keith’s day.  I have to say, I have been very, very, very proud of him through all of this.  Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God says, “Find where God is at work and join Him.”  That is absolutely what Keith has done over the past 50 days.  Most people would have curled up and whined (I think this is what I would have done), but Keith has kept his eyes opened every day for the opportunities that were there to share God’s love.  I think of the auto guy at Wal Mart, the Apharesis Nurse, and all the clinic nurses.”

Daniel knew Christ.  Keith made sure to ask.  Are there some folks in your life that you need to ask?  I am not sure what keeps us from asking the question.  Maybe we are afraid of the answer. Of the responsibility of knowing.

Please pray for Shannon, and for the Mashburn family.  He was young in years, but an old soul.  He lived a lot of life in his 28 years.

I am sure Keith was at the front of the line to welcome him to Heaven.