Shaun Ryan Greening was born in January of 1978, son of Pat and Chuck Greening. The world of Cystic Fibrosis was a mystery to them, but soon they would learn more than they wanted to. Shortly after he was born, Shaun was diagnosed with CF and the formidable challenge began.
In 1995, the struggle with his lungs reached a critical stage. Shaun would need a lung transplant. In August, Shaun went to California and received one lobe from his mother and one lobe from his sister. I first met Shaun in California when I brought him a laptop computer to stay in contact with his friends back home.
The energy around Shaun that day was extraordinarily strong. He sat on a chair without any oxygen tanks or anything around him. I could tell from the gleam in his eyes, that he just wanted to dive right into the computer and start typing. The visit was a short one, but I could tell Shaun was happy to have some different faces popping into his room instead of just the doctors and his parents.
After Shaun went for some exercise, his mother told me that that was the longest time he’s been off oxygen since he came to California. I knew then that my visit was worth the trip.
They finally came back to Appleton in November of 1995. A huge welcoming committee was waiting through the delays at the airport. When the plane finally landed a burst of cheers was let out. Shaun looked a little worn from the traveling, but was happy to see his friends.
Shaun and his parents took many more trips back and forth from Appleton to St. Vincent’s hospital here in Green Bay. On two occasions, when I found out he was up at the hospital, I stopped by to see how he was doing. Shaun was holding his own while the nurses checked his stats. He sat flipping through the cable channels trying to find something to watch.
Shaun was not much of a talker, but I got the sense that he enjoyed the company. I spent more time talking with his mother on the second visit. Shaun was doing a bit of cat napping, mostly because he had stayed up late the night before. Pat told me that Shaun didn’t sleep well in hospitals. I chuckled and said, “Who does?”
That was the last time I saw Shaun. Late in the evening on March 2, 1996, Shaun passed away.
I only knew Shaun and his family for a short time, but it was easy to see how much spirit Shaun brought to the family. Now 18 years of memories will be the bandage to hold Pat, Chuck, Shannon and Jennifer together as the hurt heals.
Only God knows why He called Shaun home so young. I just hope The Lord is ready for a really good game of Dungeons and Dragons.