Couple take time to celebrate

Baby shower allows for joy after shooting

Monique Sullivan-Johnson sat in the center of her baby shower Saturday, giving truth to the old saying about a pregnant woman's glow.

Beside her sat her fiance, Wayne Eggins, wearing the bewildered expression of a man trapped at a baby shower.

"I'm just here for the food," he said, motioning to his plate of meatballs.

It seemed to be a normal baby shower: blue streamers draped from the ceiling, a bowl of punch flanked by stacks of cupcakes, a table piled high with presents. Friends and family, though, knew this was a celebration of life for a young couple who had caught a glimpse of death.

On a table decorated with balloons was a snapshot of Eggins and Sullivan-Johnson. In the picture, he stood behind her, arms wrapped tightly around her shoulders, both with big grins on their faces.

The couple lived at the former Merrick Place Apartments in west Augusta, both pursuing their goals for a better life and excited about a baby coming in September. In February, Eggins came home from work and found a burglar breaking into his neighbor's apartment. Eggins was shot in the head by the burglar's accomplice.

That dark night and the months of continuing rehabilitation were set aside for the shower.

There was giggling as the party-goers put a piece of paper on their head and tried to draw a baby. ("My mouth and nose don't even match up on the face!")

There were exasperated sighs as they struggled to decipher baby-theme word puzzles. ("My brain is fried.")

The women gave a collective "awww" as Sullivan-Johnson pulled onesies, little suits and tiny T-shirts out of her gift bags.

Seated at the table with him was Earl Johnson, Sullivan-Johnson's grandfather from Atlanta. He had lost contact with his granddaughter for two years, then recently learned about their situation through family and updates through The Augusta Chronicle. It was his first time meeting Eggins, but he was proud.

"They say you can't keep a good man down," Johnson said.

Barbara Rose was attending on an invitation from Sullivan-Johnson's mother, Tania Padilla. Padilla talks often about the upcoming birth of her grandchild in Sunday school, Rose said.

"She's very excited," Rose said.

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