I never got to tell my daddy goodbye
Second former Shania Shand has been living with the pain of losing her father for two years now.
Some days she thinks she can handle the sense of loss and memories which torture her after realising she had lost her father and the worst part is that she didn't even get to say goodbye.
That night will forever remain etched in her memory. Shand opened up to Family and Religion when her father was snatched away.
"I was sleeping and then the sounds of gunshots awoke me. I soon learnt that it was my father who was shot and killed. I started laughing, because I knew he couldn't have been dead, he just told me 'goodnight'," she related.
The days that ensued she was numb. Not even her mother and siblings could penetrate the wall of pain which enshrouded her. At the funeral, staring at his lifeless body, it was there the dam broke and she started to cry as if she would never stop.
"After watching him being laid into the grave, I had to accept that he was really gone, I would never again get to hug my father. I would never hear him calling my name," she said.
There are days when Shand goes through depression as the memories assail her, it's a struggle in school sometimes to put it all behind her, but she is thanking God for her mother, said Anneka Salmon-Crossley, I Believe Initiative, ambassador, who has been a tower of strength for her. Her step-father said he has tried his best to fill the void and she is grateful for that.
"I still feel depressed and angry sometimes just thinking about it. But I free myself by listening to music, talking to my friends, and reading books," she said.
Shand smiles before sharing that her mother, step-father and circle of friends always seem to know when she is in one of those 'moods' and do stuff to cheer her up and make her smile.
Still, she admits that as much as they try, there is no escaping those times when the void in her life seems huge.
"I thought my life was over because I lost someone so important to me, but I remembered that I still had my mommy. So that's how I make it when the memories and sadness want to take over."
If there is any regret for Shand it's the fact that she never got to say a proper goodbye to her father.
With a faraway look in her eyes, she said, "I just wish I had a chance to tell him goodbye and had a chance to tell him that I passed my Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) for my first choice. I wish that he wasn't an outgoing person and that he had stayed home. Maybe then he would be here today."
WHO HE REALLY WAS
Her eyes got cloudy as she said she wished she could let people see who her father really was - the one who took her out, the one who showered her with love and tenderness instead of what others thought him to be - a gunman.
"He wasn't really, you know. He used to run taxi and you know how dangerous it can be on the road. He was misguided, as he accepted a gun from a friend for protection," taking a deep breath, she relayed how an argument ensued between her father and her mother's cousin who stabbed him and he reacted by shooting him - that led to the police killing him.
"I really wish with all my heart that it wasn't like that. He was a good man, he was a great father - no one can take that from me."
For Shand, life must go on, but she is so thankful that her mother is there to make it easier for her.
"She is funny and does the craziest things at times (really crazy stuff) just to put a smile on my face. My best friend, Tiffy, and my cousin, Amoi, also help a lot by threatening anybody who troubles me and doing some crazy dances and singing to me just like my mommy! I love them for always being there for me."
Wise beyond her years, Shand said for others like herself who are dealing with the pain of losing a loved one, her words of wisdom for them are: "Live life to the fullest. Don't think about the sad times just think about the happy times, because that person is not fully gone because they will always remain in your hearts."