February 28, 2017

R.I.P. Amanda Sheputis

You ever have a feeling that something isn't quite right when you wake up. On my birthday I had that feeling. I thought I should be happy for the most part and I was but not as excited. I went to work and did my usual thing.  After work, I went out and honestly at this point don't even remember what I did. What I do recall is that evening was going to an art exhibit down in the Delmar Loop. Around 8:30 pm I left and decided to go to the Central West End to stop by Sub Zero to have some sushi and collect my birthday Vodka bottle. As I was leaving Sub Zero I was still having the same nagging feeling from earlier but slightly became more intensified.

As I'm walking down Maryland Ave towards Kingshighway where my car was parked, I remember getting a text from Amanda's mom telling me she was gone. I stopped in my tracks and thought and praying she meant she was missing for a few hours and she hadn't heard from her. She Facebook Live me and confirmed what I was afraid to acknowledge. The weird feeling that I had all day was connected to her passing.

I sat down near the Fountain by Chase Park Plaza and after I finished my conversation with her mom I just started crying. I was angry at myself for not doing enough to keep in contact with her. I thought about when I last saw her. All these memories just flooded back into me. There are two memories from our childhood that have always stuck with me.

Back when we were in elementary school we used to hang out all the time. I was either over her house or she was over mine. I remember her mom driving us to a haunted house/park and we were super excited. As we were going through the area this guy with a chainsaw comes out. Looking like the real deal Jason from Friday the 13th. I freaked out so bad, that I didn't realize that I had pushed Amanda down into the dirt and literally ran over her. Amanda starts yelling, "Jasmine! Help!" I turn around ran back to her, tried to help her up but only succeeded in dragging her across the dirt which I think was also mud....... The guy with the chainsaw is cracking up so much he turns off the chainsaw and says, "Hon, go ahead and help your friend up". When Amanda gets up I'm looking at her hair that is jacked up, the front of her shirt and pants have mud on them and she looks at me and says "Really?!"

By the time we were done with the place we were cracking up. On our way back to our neighborhood we were in the back of her mom's station wagon just reliving the whole scenario. Heck, even now when Halloween comes around I always think about that memory.

8th Grade Graduation - Amy, Hannah, Amanda, Myself, Sara

The other memory I have is also in elementary school. Back in the day, my school class used to get together and ride bikes or go rollerblading. I remember a group of us went over to Amanda's house to pick her up to go along with us. She had forgotten something and told me to come in with her back to her room. At the time neither one of her parents were home but they had this older lady who was their babysitter. She wasn't nice to me. In fact, she looked at me with such hatred I just stayed close to Amanda while we were in the house.

On our way out Amanda informs the babysitter that she going with us rollerblading. The babysitter said and I remember this as clear as day, "Why did you bring that n*gger into this house?". I was in shock. I couldn't believe the woman had addressed me in that fashion. Amanda's response was simply epic. She went off on that babysitter so bad... I almost felt sorry for the woman because she was so old that it looked like she already had one foot in the casket and by the time Amanda was done with her I was pretty sure she was just going to find a casket and shut the damn lid herself. I was so worried about Amanda getting in trouble I just pulled her away from the woman and just told her lets just go outside and join the rest of the group.

That was the kind of friend Amanda was. She might have been shy if she didn't know you but she was damn loyal to those she cared about. Her family moved out of the neighborhood but we still kept in touch. Then she got married and had moved out of state. Where ever she moved I always received a Christmas card from her. She eventually moved back to Saint Louis and I was so excited that she was coming back. Unfortunately, the last time I laid eyes on her was in 2015 when I was informed by her mom she was in the hospital. When I saw her she was in a coma. My heart just bottomed out. I sat by her side and just held her hand and told her I loved her and just keep fighting. The next time I came with Kamina (another childhood friend) and both of us just sat there talking to her about our past memories from Saint Ann.

She eventually got better and I would contact her throughout 2016 to let her know that I wanted to meet up with her. I would hear from her from time to time. One of the last contacts I had with her was through Facebook chat and it was quite funny. There has been a big issue on Facebook with people's profiles being swiped by hackers to make duplicate profiles. I had received a friend request from a profile with Amanda's name. I clicked on the messenger box and proceeded to go off and cuss out the imposter. I informed them that I knew this wasn't a real Facebook account and told them they better delete it. Amanda's contact's me via her other profile and informs me that the other profile was her and she was cracking up. I was laughing myself and was like, WHOOPS. So I totally accepted the friend request and we chatted for a while and I told her again that I miss her and wanted to meet up. I told her just let me know when you have some free time and I'll come get ya.

8th Grade Class

A month later she was gone. Ever since I found out about her passing and up until her wake and funeral, I kept replaying in my mind all those memories. On the day of her wake, last Thursday, my GPS took me to the wrong mortuary location. I figured Amanda was having a laugh from that. I eventually made it to the correct location and waited in my car for a few minutes. I had to gather myself together because I was so nervous. In my opinion, it's one thing to see a relative pass. But to see a friend that you grew up with and care about is something totally different.

I made my way to Parlor C at Kutis Funeral Home in Afton, MO and made my way to the doors and walked just a few steps inside. I walked towards the picture boards and glanced at the various pictures of Amanda throughout her life. I saw her pictures from elementary school and it brought a sad smile to my face. After going through the pictures I made my way to her casket.

Seeing her in a state of repose really knocked the wind out of me. The tears I had managed to keep inside majority of the day just came rushing out. Her mom came up to me and we hugged. We talked for a while and I told her if she needed anything to let me know. I also saw two of her siblings and a few of our elementary friends came through. I left that night and focused on saying goodbye to her one more time Friday morning.

I made my way to St. Mark's Church in Afton, MO Friday morning and I arrived around 15 minutes ahead of the service. I sat off to the left and was just in my own thoughts. The service started at 10am and I was amazed at how much I still remembered about Catholic services, seeing as that I haven't been to one since I graduated from high school back in 1997. I went through the motions but when the priest starting talking about Amanda I really concentrated on what he was saying. Besides being a daughter, sister, and mom, She had also been an artist. I wish I could have seen some of her work.

After the service, I made my way outside and watched her coffin being loaded into the hearse. I kept my eyes on the hearse as it pulled off and made it's way down the street until I couldn't see it anymore. I looked up at the sky which was cloudy and had sprinkled a few raindrops. I said a prayer and made my way to my car.

I miss and love you Amanda. 
I hope your friend Kelly welcomed you with open arms.
I hope you are at peace.

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