Monday, June 30, 2008
This beautiful, vibrant young woman's name is Shannon Leigh. She was a fellow poet whom I've met only twice, and somewhat briefly. She is around 21 years old, and I am in awe of her talent. She was the only woman to make it to the last round of individual finals at the National Poetry Slam in 2007, and many people agreed that she deserved to win.
Perhaps that's why I'm so dumbstruck to find that she is dead.
On June 14th, she was in a diving accident. Cave diving was one of her passions. An amazing team of good Samaritans came to her aid, including a couple of doctors who just happened to be diving that day as well. She had no pulse when they pulled her from the water, but they brought her around.
She was in the hospital. She was in a decompression chamber. She was in a coma. We all knew she was a fighter, and I think we all expected the best to happen. Her mother was posting Livejournal updates about her, remarking at how Shannon would react to hearing recordings of her own poems or episodes of South Park, how she would try to open her eyes or shed a tear. When I saw Shannon last, at a poetry feature in Delaware, we talked about poetry and South Park. I made some kind of obscure silly side comment, and she wrote it down, because she told me it would make a great idea for a poem.
I don't know if she ever wrote that poem.
I didn't even know her that well, but I am just so angry and sad that she's gone. She seemed sweet and sassy, and I was often wondering what kind of conversations we might have at future poetry events.
I will be donating at least something to her family in these harsh times. Her health insurance supposedly was only covering 80% of the $10,000 a day cost of the ICU.