I remember the first time I met Shanté. 😊Funny enough, she was the last person I wanted to get to know then...
It was in college, and we ended up in the same Government & Politics class. I had just moved to the UK to live with my mum, and had only joined college a few months earlier. I was shy and very reserved; I preferred to listen and learn from everyone else in class, while she always seemed to have something to say. I guess I was so turned off by the idea of getting to know her because she was so out there - something I was trying very hard not to be.
So when she suggested that we hang out one summer evening, I was the most surprised when I responded by saying, "Yes, I'd love to!"
It helped that we were going with a mutual friend, because I wasn't sure how or if my personality and Shanté's would find a middle ground without her. So when she bailed on us at the last minute, I was a bit worried about how the evening would go. Still, it was too late to cancel, and I didn't really have an excuse not to go; plus I was intrigued by the place Shanté had suggested we go to.
So I went!
To my surprise, I had an amazing time! 😃 We danced, sang, and made new friends. I got to see the other side of Shanté's personality, which involved talking easily to strangers like she'd known them all her life, and making the most of each and every experience. By the end of the night, we were already planning our next hangout and I was wondering how I'd ever thought of bailing in the first place. 😄
By this time I'd realized that Shanté was way more adventurous than I was, and although I enjoyed the time we spent together, I couldn't quite keep up with her. A lot of our disagreements were based on the fact that she thought that I was a big baby who preferred being locked up in the house to really living, lol, while I thought she was crazy to think everyone could live life the way she did.
However, as I look at the pictures of the memories we were able to capture, I'm so glad that she was the way she was. With time, I've realized how easy it is for me to put off doing something, while she was quicker to act on any ideas that we came up with - something I really appreciate now more than ever, because it was these experiences that helped form the basis of our friendship.
She was one of those people who believed in giving it to you straight - if she had something to tell you, she'd say it to your face. She also loved jumping - especially in pictures - and her easy-going nature and unique sense of style always made her stand out.
The afternoon right before she left the Netherlands to go back to the UK, we had a long conversation about the plans we had for our future, and she expressed how eager she was to open a vintage store in Rwanda one day. She'd spent some time there the previous year, and absolutely loved it. She really wanted to go back. Even as I type this it's so hard to believe that she won't be going back there one day to do just that...
It took her passing away for me to realize just how big a role she's played in my life. But in many ways, it makes me happy. Because I can still see bits of her in some of the things I do; and I also get to share bits of her with you. ♥
Looking back, I now realize that - without either of us knowing it at the time - she came to say goodbye. That's a privilege that we all hope to have with our loved ones, but few of us get. And words wouldn't be able to describe how grateful I am for that. I miss her so much, and I think part of me still believes that she's still here...
She was an original. In a world that can definitely use more light, she lived up to her self-given nickname 'Shanté Shimmerz' - she shimmered. My hope is that the way she lived her life will be motivation enough for you to do more with yours. My hope is that she'll inspire you as much as she inspired me. My hope is that her example will give you the courage, wherever you are, to shimmer too.✨