Pey was born during a storm of babies in Winchester, Virginia on March 12, 2007. He was two weeks late. A Pitocin– fueled induction a few days earlier hadn’t especially motivated him and I maintain it took a huge meal of Mexican food to finally get him rolling into the world. He was born with the longest fingers I’ve ever seen- fingers he instantly clasped together like a little Buddha, already at peace with the world. His eyes eventually become the color of milk chocolate, but at the time they were the deep, dark, quiet blue of ocean depths.
His first year is a blur of exhaustion and quadruple- guessing myself. Here is what I remember: he slept through the night in less than a month, he loved when I sang Bob Marley to him, he played with his poop, and he had continual earaches. He was largely content with whoever held him, but he always sought me out like a backpacker looking for the sun in the middle of the forest.
By two years old he was my favorite biking partner. We biked the mountains of Shenandoah County, Virginia- him in a cumbersome bike seat, giggling and babbling away as he pulled down the waist of my bike shorts, showing my bun-buns to any unfortunate passer-bys. We biked the farmland of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania- him sitting like a mohawked little king in a bike trailer. In more recent years we planned to be a life-long peloton of two- him saying he always worried about me biking alone and that he would keep me safe.
Pey had speech apraxia and didn’t clearly speak until closer to five or six years old. At the time this was worrisome, but in retrospect I’m thankful for a time period where him and I had a secret language. He was always so easily happy.
He played soccer and football. He played video games. He loved to swim. He loved flowers. He loved the ocean. He loved pranks. He loved music. He was kind. He accepted and appreciated people as they were and without critique. He made me give money to the homeless, saying “If they have to ask, does it matter what the reason is?” He was happiest when the people he was with were happy. He was an old soul who thought deeply. He talked about how society creates villains when we watched superhero movies, that people that are mistreated in turn mistreat people. He asked about negative numbers in kindergarten. He said that his generation had too many ways to hurt each other and that they did it all the time, but that there was still hope.
Pey was diagnosed with leukemia on June 12, 2019. Pey got a bone marrow transplant on December 5, 2019. Pey was in remission for seven beautiful months. Pey relapsed on July 21, 2020. Pey died on January 18, 2021. I cannot accurately convey the hell of that journey, the absolute torture of it all. My heart broke for nineteen months straight while Pey fought with bravery, perseverance, hope, despair, pain, and humor. He never lost the ability to laugh deeply, to love fiercely, and to want everyone around him profoundly happy.
He was more than my son: he was my soulmate, my twin- flame, my sounding board, my clone, my biggest fan, and my strongest love. I held him after he entered this world and I held him as he left it. I am devastated without him.
Please send love and light to others he left behind: his Dad, Seth Shaffer, his Dad, Shane Alkire, his brother, Grayson Shaffer, his dog, Toby, and his cat, Ginsburg; his grandparents, Jere and Martie Bunting, his Uncle, Joshua Bunting, and his Aunt, Erin Sheppard; his brother-but-cousin, Marty Eshleman and his great- grandfather Jere R. Bunting.
Thank you from every cell in my body to Pey’s team at Penn State Children’s Hospital, as well as every single nurse he ever had. Never forget the pranks, the smirks, the snark, the orange soda, the negotiating, the pissed off walks, the fake sleeping, and that one time he tried to escape the hospital. You are forever our family.
Peyton’s massive celebration of life will be held in the summer when we are all healed enough to truly party in his name, his sweet spirit, and his funny, beautiful happiness
Amanda and Peyton’s Family, I didn’t know Peyton, but I had so many tears when I read your beautiful story about your son. May you find some comfort in knowing he touched so many lives.
Praying for your family, what an amazing young man he was. Even hearing his journey inspires me not only to give to others but to appreciate each day. Thinking of you all. I worked with Erin and I have no doubt that he influenced so many and will continue to give us all a wake up call.
To Peyton’s mom Amanda- Your son is still living..only in a different way! “The spirit lives, as long as the living remember”! -Old Indian saying
Alot of us have come to know of Peyton thanks to you!👍 By your story telling…Peyton’s spirit is shining like a bright star 🌠above!! 🌌
Peyton will be remembered for the Awesome kid he was!!👨😊
The price we pay for ❤ is grief. 😔
You are not alone!🌹
Dear Mrs. Shaffer,
My wife and I were deeply moved by the beautiful tribute to your son that appeared in the newspaper. Though we never knew Peyton, your words made him come alive again. It was a perfect tribute to what must have been a wonderful child. Please accept our deepest sympathies, and thank you for sharing such lovely memories of your son.
Amanda and Families , please know that my love and prayers have been there and will continue to be there for you all. Peyton’s beautiful life will live on in our hearts and memories forever! We never shared time in life to fully know each other but she Peyton was with his Dad in Waynesboro, l enjoyed taking his picture. He was a sweet and precious young boy. Many tears have been shed for him and the family because the heart was greatly touched! I can deeply feel your Mother heart and the love you shared! May that love and those precious memories carry you through! It’s okay to cry and to hurt because your love has been pure and good! I do appreciate your life journey that you shared, we all need to realize how short life is and love, share, care and forgive that memories will be good! Amanda, please know that time does help the great loss that you are feeling to a time will come that you will smile again because of the treasures you have in your heart! Sweet Peyton is at rest, not suffering anymore and enjoying all of Heaven. I’m asking the Lord to give you a sign, something as a butterfly or a special little thing that will come to you and you can have that sweet feeling of how close your son is to you! Please know that you’re not forgotten and all of you will be tenderly in our prayers!
Amanda and Family,
Thanks for sharing Peyton’s story with us – he was a heroic boy who will always be watching over his family especially his Mommy 💜 I never met him but feel that I know him now and looked forward to Josh’s posts about him. Prayers for Little Jere(as we always called him – my cousin)and Big Jere(my uncle)during this difficult time. God often calls the special ones home early to run free of pain.
Love and Blessings,
Bev Swarr Fisher
Amanda, I am a cashier at a grocery store. I read the obits everyday and send a card or attend a funeral if a customer has passed. I looked at your son’s story of life and am still crying. It is a beautiful and wonderful story. You and he are two very lucky people to have known such love. As a mother I am so happy for the love the two of you shared. You have such wonderful memories. I hope every mother that reads this story will look at life as you have. You are such a wonderful writer that I hope you continue to write stories of his love. I am sure a lot of people would love to hear them. He sounds like a wonderful person. Bless you for sharing.
Sherry Ocker left you this message:
Tears.. just tears.. reading this beautiful Heartfelt letter about peyton! i don’t know why i feel so deeply about this, simply because i never met him, maybe its because you opened up your world and shared your ( and peytons) journey with us. And one thing i know for sure is, besides getting to know him a little bit, it taught us all to take a moment and stop whatever it was we were doing and to be thankful for the loved ones we have in our lives… whether its family and/or friends, our children, our parents, neighbors, or people we work with,, and just to be thankful they are with us. My heart truly breaks for you, as a mother (and a wonderful mother at that!), and having to endure the worst possible pain there is,,and for peyton having to go through this illness to begin with (unfair as it is),! who instead had to go to doctors, hospital, etc, and who should’ve been going places and exploring his surrounndings with his side kick mar mar,. who i’m sure would’ve loved having him alongside him. please know that you are not alone in your pain, he has touched the hearts of complete strangers too…us! what an incredibly beautiful letter!
What a beautiful tribute to your son. Although I don’t know you or your son, I feel my life would have been enhanced had I had the chance to know him,
My god bless you and your family in this difficult time. My your family find peace and comfort knowing your beloved son is at eternal peace. No doubt flying high with the angels. RIP Peyton.
After reading your obituary I felt I had to comment. I am so glad you got to spend the time you did with your son, your bond sounds amazing. You were so blessed with this child, some parents never get to feel the love you and and your son shared. Thank you so much for sharing him with all of us! May God bless you with all the wonderful memories you shared with Peyton all the days of your life. My prayers are with you!
Dear Amanda, I do not know you but was drawn to read your son’s obit. Those were the most beautiful, heartfelt , eloquent words…that spoke volumes of the void your beautiful Pey will leave. Your love, devotion and his amazing spirit must have had a different purpose than the one on earth…other than to bless all of those in his world. My deepest condolences to you and your family and thank you for the honor of reading about Pey. May you find comfort in his memories and dream of where he is gracing others now….hugs. L
Heartfelt condolences to you on the loss of your beautiful boy. Your obituary borough us to tears – We do not know you but we lost our son 17yrs ago and so wish that you did not have to join us on this path.
Only a mother could share such a beautiful tribute to her child. Thank you for giving us this picture of your beautiful son. We who have lost children share you pain. Please know you have given a gift to many with your courageous writing.
I do not know you but after reading your sons obituary my heart goes out to the family. I am heartfully sorry for loss of son. What a beautiful obituary you wrote of him. That was also a beautiful picture of him. Hold onto the beautiful, wonderful memories of his life with you. I’m sure you’ll cry many tears but just know that he is not suffering anymore and one day you will see him again,I truly believe that. I will continue to pray for you,for all of you.
I read Peyton’s obituary at work today and wept at my desk. His essence was captured beautifully. I am so so sorry that such a gentle soul was taken from your lives. Blessings and Peace.
I’m a co-worker of Erin Sheppard, but didn’t know your son personally. After reading his eloquent obituary, I feel like I knew him well. My sincere condolences for your loss and heavens gain. Whenever you see a flower think of it as your beloved son smiling at you. God Bless your path to healing and may the prayers of so many ease the pain.
To the family Peyton was a student at our school and when I heard how he was fighting his cancer it was truly amazing how strong your son was! I know what it is like to see a family member go through the fight of cancer. my mother died from liver cancer and many days I was just so happy to spend time with her even if I could not help her medically. It takes time to heal the hole left in your heart when a love one is gone but if you remember how they made you feel everyday that will put a smile back on your face once again! God Bless my prayers are with all of you!
Dear Amanda and Family,
I’m so very sorry for the loss of your son. His obituary gave us all a picture of the joy he brought to his family. I pray for the day when your pain eases.
I am sorry for your loss. I don’t know your family but am so blessed that you shared Peyton’s life story. Keep his memories alive in your heart!!
We’ve never met, nor did I have the pleasure to meet Peyton, although the story you shared painted a vivid picture. I’m sorry I didn’t have that opportunity. What a coincidence I read his obituary not two hours after finishing a challenge I accepted on behalf of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I hope it gives you some small comfort knowing there are hundreds, thousands really, of dedicated members of the LSS “Team In Training”, constantly raising awareness and resources to find a cure for these blood cancers. My warmest condolences to all of Peyton’s family.
One does not have to know the person to be a companion in their loss. As a mom, your path and mine crossed some of the same terrain. Knowing that journey, my heart can sense the profound depth of the love and loss you have so beautifully articulated. Pey’s spirit, at far too young an age, has taken the next steps in a journey we will all take. I humbly offer the following old Amish prayer in condolence: “Love that is will ALWAYS be, Even tho there is a sea, parting love and life and all; For in the end that sea is small. All that was to be will be, All that was to see, we’ll see; And all the paths that we do trod, Will be those paths that lead to God.” I am praying that this time will be as gentle as possible with you, Amanda, and with all of Pey’s family. Peace and prayers.
That was the most beautiful obituary that I have ever read. I lost my son to cancer when he was 13 so I know your pain. It has been 30 years if you can believe it but it is as if it was only yesterday. I am here to tell you that you will make it through even though at times you will not believe that statement. I pray for peace, joy, and love. I know the source of my peace. You have my name and email if you want to talk.
Amanda, thank you for sharing the story of your beautiful boy, Pey. Although we have never met, please know my heart and thoughts are with you.
I can’t imagine what you are going thru but know that we are praying for you! You are stronger than you even know! You’re words touched my family’s heart. Anonymous
To Peyton’s family,
I did not know Peyton nor do I know any of you. I do however feel blessed to have gotten to know Peyton through your eyes. What a wonderful gift he was to the world!
May you find peace in your love of each other and your lovely memories of a wonderful boy. His spirit will remain with you and his story will remain with me! Thank you so much for sharing him with us.
We don’t know each other and I don’t know your family but I read your son’s obit and started to cry at my desk for your loss. I hope you have the ability to heal and live your life as your son would want you to honor his life. Prayers and a hug from a stranger.
Your beautiful remembrance of your son brought me to tears. We lost our son Rob 3 years ago due to an industrial accident and we certainly know how you feel. None of us should ever have to say goodbye to our children in this way. Our hearts go out to you and we hope somehow this “club” we now belong to gets no more members. We can only hope you can find some peace in your memory of the time you spent with Pey.
Though I do not know you, I was touched to tears to read your loving obituary for your beloved son Peyton. May time help to heal your open wounds. My deepest sympathy to you and your family.
Thank you for this beautiful portrait of him, your words were a painting on this mother’s heart. I am feeling sooo very deeply for you and your family…praying for His peace and comfort that surpasses all understanding to flood and fill your heart and ease your mind…
(I knew Shane in school and have followed via fb)
Sending all y’all all the love and comfort I can send…
My son, Jason would often speak of Peyton. Whether it was updating me on how he was feeling, the possibility of seeing his friend again at school, or how their Call of Duty games were going. He always spoke worried, but fondly of your son. Last Sunday night, he expressed worry when he hadn’t heard from Peyton. When we learned of the news from the school, I reached out to Jason. He told me he knew, and said even though he lost his friend, he knows he’s no longer in pain. I can’t imagine the pain of your loss. I know he will always have a special place in Jason’s heart. Thank you for sharing Peyton with Jason.
Such a beautiful encapsulation of Peyton’s too-short life. My heart breaks for your family under this staggering loss. I will keep you in my thoughts…and I will give money to homeless folks in your sweet son’s memory.
Love and hugs to you all.
Amanda, I do not know you, but wanted you to know I read every word you wrote about your wonderful son. I sobbed the whole way through, how amazing to meet your son through your words.
I too have lost a child, the journey is long and hard. I’m sending you light and love.
If you ever need someone who’s been there…..
Sorry for your loss this is the most beautiful obituary I have ever read god bless
That is the most beautiful and real obituary I have ever read. I sit here in tears. Now all of us know Peyton, even if just a little bit. I offer my deepest condolences to you and your family. My then 3 year old daughter survived leukemia 34 years ago so I know your pain in the battle to beat it. Everyday a living hell for one reason or another. I thought of an obituary many times during that 3 years. May God be with you I will pray for you.
I don’t know you or your family but I am a mother and grandmother and I read your beautiful heartfelt words and my heart goes out to you.
I cried and smiled through every word of this beautiful tribute. I don’t know your family, but Peyton will be on my mind for a long time.. and you will be in my prayers.
As I sit here crying after reading your words for your son, I just had to come here and send you and your family love. ((( <3 ))) May you all be surrounded by the peace that only God can bring
I was reading the obituaries as I do daily, a habit I picked up growing as a funeral director’s son in the 60s. I came across Peyton’s obituary written by his mom. I must say I’ve never read a more beautiful, detailed tribute to one’s child. I was brought to tears. I never met Peyton, but I still feel like he was the kid next door. May I extend my sincere sympathy to you, Peyton’s family. I’m sure that in time your tears will turn to smiles when thinking of Peyton.
I’m incredibly sorry for the loss of Pey. My heart goes out to the Shaffer family during this painful time. You will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.
– Olivia Harris Nelson
(Former math student from Central High School)
I am sooooo sorry we lost Peyton. Peyton was a very unique boy. The couple of times he visited us, he was perfect and obedient boy. He was a gentle and loving soul. He will be greatly missed and will remember how special he was! Sending our love and prayers your way.
Such a beautiful story for such a beautiful boy. I will be sure to help the homeless, for Pey.
Praying for healing for all of Pey’s family.
Love, Kim Capobianco
My sincere condolences to the family. Reading Peyton’s obituary was very touching. Peyton was wise beyond his years. The world lost a sweet soul who carried his love for people in his heart. Peyton’s family will carry him in their hearts. His legacy will shine on like the stars in the night sky; like the morning dew glistening on the petals of a flower or a soft breeze blowing on a summer’s night. In Sympathy & Love
Amanda, what a beautiful tribute to an amazing life. Faye and I were in tears. We are so proud of you and your family for the loving care for Peyton. You have shown us and the world the meaning of compassion and life. Praying God’s peace and comfort. You are an amazing family. We pray that time will heal the loss of a part of your soul. We cannot imagine the pain you are feeling. You have had the support of your loving husband Seth and your precious son Grayson, and family to ease the pain during this trial in life. If there is anything Faye and I can do or if you just want to talk call us at 717-808-2603. May God’s peace fill your hearts. We love you, Uncle Sam and Aunt Faye.
Dear Amanda and your beloved family;
My prayers are with you as you begin your lives without the physical presence of your first-born and greatly loved son, Peyton.
Your son’s memory will live eternal and may you find comfort in the absolute assurance that he is with our Almighty Holy Heavenly Father.
Thank you for sharing a little bit of him with all of us, through your beautiful words and memories.
I read this in tears. A beautiful young life that had only a short time to give sunshine to the world. My heart is breaking for all the people who loved him . He battled with a strong and wonderful group of people by his side. The world was lucky if only for a short time. Heaven has gained an angel that will bring love and laughter .
Amanda & Family, My heart is broken for you all. Although I didn’t know Peyton personally, I followed his journey. (I am a friend of Erin’s). Please know there were so many prayers said for your sweet boy. May all your memories comfort you and bring you peace. 🕊❤ Jeannette Dicely Weitzel