"It was very touching," Shawnda said. "There were just so many different things that she shared with me. I mean, I guess it was six or seven hours that we sat there and talked. I truly, truly just so much enjoyed her telling me everything, and even sharing pictures, and then telling me about other co-workers that were involved in my life. . . . I didn't know that she had known so much."
Their friendship has allowed Shawnda to reclaim a small, but significant, part of what she lost when her illness struck.
I'm not scared to meet people from my past anymore. I want to know, now, and wanting to know more. I now enjoy hearing people tell me stories of the life I did not know — their funny, intriguing, oh-my-gosh moments. There still can be sad moments. I'm finding there were many people in "her" life that loved her and still love me :)
— June 6, 2012
These days, Shaylin proudly tells strangers that she's 9 years old and her mom is only 8.
"She does worry a lot when I get sick. She knows a lot — more than most children," Shawnda said. "These strengths that she has so much at an early age, I know they'll make her flourish as a young adult."
When Shaylin learned to write, she would also scribble her thoughts and feelings down in notebooks and diaries. Like her mother, Shaylin always goes just a few pages into her journal, then finds a new one and starts over on a blank white page.