Shannon Hoon Vigil
Tones Of Home Gathering
On October 21, 1995 heaven gained a new tenant. It was that sweet, kindhearted jokester from Indiana. For some folks the world stood still and wouldn't turn again for a long time. He was a father, a son, a brother, a lover, and a friend. His death affected so many people in so many different ways. Everything was forever changed. My heart will always hurt for his family and for his real friends, because we have seen how much they miss him.
Almost a year rolls by and it's now September 26, 1996, Shannon's birthday. His mother, Ms. Nel, decided that she wanted to go to Dayton to be with her son on his day. Well guess what? She wasn't the only one that felt the need to be there. While at Shannon's, other folks showed up to pay their respects. This moment in time became the beginning of Vigil. Just like the bush planted by Tim, the Vigil grew and grew. What started out as less than twenty people, became up to two hundred some years. People have traveled from all over the world to be there. Some years were very trying for some of us, but it just proved that we would go through hell to be there. We have met people that have traveled from very far away without being able to speak hardly any English. But after they arrive, the connection that we have through music makes it to where language doesn't even matter.
On July 3, 2009, things would change yet again. Shannon's brother Tim lost his battle with cancer. That took things to a whole other level. Especially for the friends that remember the quiet guy that would just kind of hang in the back. With even more sadness in her heart, Nel continued to host the Vigil until it became too unbearable for her to be out at the cemetery. In 2015, Nel announced that it would be the last Shannon Hoon Vigil. Everyone completely understood her need for the Vigil to end.
With the end of the Shannon Hoon Vigil, many of us still felt the need to travel to Lafayette to celebrate not only Shannon, but to spend time with our Melon Family. In 2016, we had the first annual Tones Of Home Gathering. The Gathering is not the Vigil. It is different. It is not held at the cemetery, but most of us still visit Shannon, Tim, and Vernie. We camp together, play music, share meals, and have a blast just like we always have. Some years we even have a show similar to Vigilstock. I believe our friendships will stand the test of time and even if there becomes a time when there isn't an official event, I know in my heart that we will always gather, and always remember, the man that brought us all together.
I believe that we will always be bothered by the series of events that took place that brought us all together. I must say that it is pretty amazing how something so awful can create something so beautiful. I think for most of us, that first trip to pay respects turned into something that we could've never imagined. I will be forever grateful that the powers of the universe pulled us all together. I have always thought that maybe we all need each other, and somehow, someone up there knew it.
I could never put into words how grateful we all are for your acceptance, friendship and love. Even still, after the end of vigil you continue to welcome people from all walks of life into the community and into your heart.
I just hope that you know how much you have changed our lives. It's unfortunate that many of us never knew you, but you have given us more than you could've ever imagined in your wildest dreams.
We have lost friends, saw friends fall in love, watched babies grow up, and even done a lot of our own growing up together. Some of the best memories we will ever have happened in Indiana. Whenever you feel alone in this crazy world, always remember we have each other. We have laughed so hard it hurt, cried uncontrollably, danced in the streets, shared our deepest thoughts, and sang until we lost our voices. Think of everything that we have shared, the warmth from the sunshine, the smiles from across the cemetery, the feeling you get when someone is running to hug you, the sound of music as if it were piercing into your soul, and the comfort of being snuggled up with your best friends in the candle light, taking in every precious moment. We have been very lucky over the years to be able to have had storytime with Ms. Nel and Grandma Vernie. For me, the best memory of all was the moment when I knew in my heart for the first time I was right where I was supposed to be. We have a bond that most folks search their whole lives for and never find, and memories that can never be taken from us. We will always "paint it", because Vigil or no Vigil, it's more than something we do, it is who we are.
"But I know we all can't stay here forever. So, I want to write my words on the face of today. And then they'll paint it" ~ Shannon Hoon