I met Shaun when I was 10 years old. He was pretty much the coolest kid at school by a healthy margin. At the other end of the scale and by an equally impressive margin, I was the nerdiest kid at school. I never did understand why Shaun wanted to be friends with me. Like many things with Shaun, it didn't make a lot of sense at the time but ended up coming together like a good plan. Shaun and I were best friends for many years.
If I had to use one word to describe Shaun it would be "outstanding". The adjective fits so well it could been been invented just for him.
- Superior to others of its kind; distinguished.
- Standing out; prominent.
Shaun was good at most things he did. An intelligent, talented person. An outstanding friend, family man and businessman. He had a sharp wit and a rare ability to spread humour. He had an intuitive understanding of certain trends, especially in the music industry - a field in which he was destined to excel.
But more than this, Shaun was a genuine standout. In any crowd he would be the prominent one. He had a personal charisma which defied explanation. Whenever groups of people came together, Shaun was the one who left an impression. There were times when I grew tired of people asking "Wow, who was that guy?". A sizeable chunk of my teenage years was spent answering the question "Is he single?". To this day, when I catch up with people from years gone by, Shaun is invariably the person most remembered.
In our twenties Shaun and I drifted apart geographically and our lives took us in different directions. We always stayed in touch, even though there were sometimes long gaps between communications. When we did come together it was like there had been no gap at all. We shared a special bond which I consider one of my greatest treasures.
Shortly after Shaun died I found myself pondering the direction my life would have taken if I hadn't known him. Although I had always been aware of his influence, it took his death to really make it sink home. Shaun talked me into learning to play the drums, he formed our first band and laid the foundation for my musical career. It was Shaun's suggestion for me to train as a registered nurse, an idea which would never have occurred to me. My eventual career path in television can be traced back to the days Shaun and I developed our own photos and experimented with special effects.
Of course Shaun also encouraged me in plenty of less wholesome activities but I won't incriminate either of us by making those tales public.
There are so many things in my life which I owe to Shaun I could never relate them all. One thing I am thankful for is that we became closer again towards the end and my last contact was only a week before he died.
Like many people, I have unresolved issues with Shaun. Nothing too serious, but there were questions left unanswered and things left unsaid. Like many people, I regret not making more of an effort when I had the chance. But I don't think Shaun minds. I think he realises that this is part of life and death. And I think he knows how much he meant to all of us.
It's not easy finding positives in death but I think Shaun would have wanted us to try. Shaun has given me one last gift: A renewed appreciation of life and all the things that make it so good. This isn't just a platitude, I mean it.
Shaun was a classic example of how to live a life. He never waited to do the things worth doing, he just got out there and did them. He knew the things he wanted and wasn't scared of going and getting them. He encouraged others to do the same. He helped other people whether or not there was any benefit for himself. In 38 years he made more of an impact on this world than most people ever will.
If Shaun and I had both lived to be 500 I could never have thanked him enough. Rest in peace Shaun, you legend.