How can one person be surprised by the same thing every single day? I will go hours sometimes feeling pretty OK. Sometime even at peace. It’s not only when I’m not thinking about Shayna. I can think of her, have fond memories, look forward to our reunion. I can even be happy thinking of her. And as I assess my emotions I might even be lulled into thinking I’m over the hump. Maybe this grief thing isn’t so bad. Maybe my faith has made it bearable. Then, inevitably it’s back. Ah well. 

Today is another up and down day. I guess they will all be like this for a while. After meeting with Nico a few days ago I am more inspired to get my mediation practice back on track.  I downloaded an app that will actually journal my meditation days. I love accountability. I can now compete against myself for consistency in my practice.  I look up how to set up an altar. I already have some of the elements I want to put on it. A friend has given me some beautiful purple stone prayer beads. Another friend made a box for me with a great poem in it and four heart shaped rocks she combed the beach for- they represent Shayna, Ty, Kayla and me. Nico gave me a very special amethyst crystal that he says Shayna chose from his collection and he charged with energy for me. I want to get some incense though. I look up a place in Cincinnati and find Whatever Works Wellness Center. They sell all kinds of stuff for healing from crystals, to incense, to teas, herbs, etc. etc. Kayla and I head over there and spend 45 minutes talking with the owner and checking out her wares. Whatever Works, perfect name. It caught my eye. That is my philosophy on life. I am trying everything to get through this most difficult period of my life. Prayer, meditation, counseling, spirituality, science, exercise, diet, podcasts. I will do whatever works for me. I know some of the things I am doing will be shocking to some of my relatives. I know some people are concerned about some of the things I have “opened myself up to”.  I will not be bound by religion or tradition or culture or anything else. If people think I’ve gone off the deep end, well, they can think what they want.  I’m doing what I need to go do keep from going off the deep end. 

It was not my choice. That is for sure.  

It’s been over a month since Shayna has passed now. Missing her is not as intense all the time, but when the missing comes OH HOW IT COMES.  Intense out of the blue “griefbursts” as my friend Annie calls them.  Anything can trigger them and when they hit, you feel you just can’t go on.  Fortunately, Ty and I don’t seem to have them at the same time, but this afternoon we have simultaneous griefbursts. I have been working all day and was pretty fried around 3 o’clock. It is a dreary day and we haven’t even bothered to raise the shades.  I’m sitting on the couch and she comes into the room and lies on the opposite end.  I just start sobbing.  She starts crying. She looks at me and asks “How are we going to do this?”  I just look at her and shake my head. I really have no idea in this moment. This is what I’ve been asking her. Can we do this? Do we want to do this?  Going on without Shayna seems to be an impossible task.  

People keep saying to me “I can’t imagine going through what you’re going through.” Well, you’re absolutely right. I thought I could imagine it. I was wrong. But, then they follow up with “I couldn’t do what you’re doing.  I’d just die.” or something to that effect.  I know you’re trying to convey empathy with what we’re experiencing and I truly appreciate it, but I still don’t know if I can do this either. It’s literally one day at a time right now. Thinking too far ahead the task does seem impossible.  I’d prefer to hear “You can do this.” Even if you think you can’t, even if you think I can’t, please tell me I can do this. 

I get my workout in.  I do my meditation. Two days in a row. I found a meditation app that journals my sessions. I’m a goal oriented guy.  Knowing that there is a log should keep me motivated. Two days in a row now.  Meditation helps. I listen to a couple of Podcasts that raise my spirits.  

We all go out to Cheesecake Factory for what we discover is “National Cheesecake Day” (after we get there and have to wait 50 minutes for a table on a Wednesday).  We talk about Shayna and what a joy she was in our life and her last time at the Cheesecake Factory.  I’m missing her terribly. I’m sure Ty and Kayla are feeling the same way.  It’s bittersweet. Great making new memories with Ty and Kayla.  Crushing not having our little one there with us.

We return home and Kayla and I have decided to rewatch “What Dreams May Come”.  We’ve seen it not that long ago, but it has new meaning for us now. I know there are going to be some tears, but tears aren’t a bad thing. They have to come.  I’ve had two or three massive crying sessions today, but one more before bed won’t hurt.  I hold up pretty well until the scene where Robin Williams meets his daughter in heaven. He’s been talking to her for quite a while in the world of her creation when it suddenly dawns on him she has taken on a new appearance for him so he didn’t recognize her right away.  Suddenly he sees her as she was when she died (as a child) and they embrace.  Oh!  How I cannot wait for that moment.  The tears flow.

We all get a little teary at various points in the movie, but at the end the floodgates open.  We embrace.  Big family huddle cry.  But, this is good.  We have to do this. If we are going to get through this, we have to do it together. This hurts so much because we were so, so close.  We still are close, we just can’t hold Shayna anymore.  

One more day down.  One more day closer to reunion.  They are piling up fast and that is a good thing.

As I think back over Shayna’s life trying to make sense of what happened, things are coming to mind that, in hindsight, are convincing me that Shayna might have known more than she told us about what her future held.  

When the girls were little they both told us that they remembered being in heaven and choosing our family. That was before I knew anything about soul groups or pre-birth agreements or anything of the like. That idea certainly did not come from us. A few years later, I don’t know exactly when, Shayna told Ty that she was not afraid to die and couldn’t understand why anyone would be.  When Shayna began having her racing heart issues she waited God knows how long to tell us. It wasn’t until she nearly blacked out one day that she thought it was something we needed to know.   Shayna took all of her medical procedures (four times in the operating room) in stride, never once showing any fear.  

Shayna didn’t talk much about growing up, at least to us.  I do recall when she was about 10 or so and Kayla was starting to go through puberty that Shayna was very upset that she had to become a woman. Shayna loved childhood.  She cried when she found out she had to get boobs, had to have a period. All of that stuff. Shayna still enjoyed My Little Ponies, stuffed animals, especially penguins. Shayna loved the magic of childhood and being the baby of the family.

More recently, just in May around Mother’s Day she told her cousins and Kayla that when she died she wanted to be cremated. We don’t know the exact circumstances. We asked if Kayla had shared her final wishes with Shayna and she said she had not. Why did Shayna bring that up?  And, also in May Shayna told at least one person that if she died or when she died she wanted to die in her sleep.  

As I think back over my own life, I have had the fear of sudden death since I was young. It got really strong when I was around Shayna’s age. I might have been a little older. As a result of that I have studied a lot about death and the afterlife and anything I can find on phenomena that prove or at least support the idea we survive physical death. I have become firmly convinced that while the body dies, the soul goes on and all souls (at least eventually) are reconciled back to God/Spirit/Source whatever you want to call It/Him. I did this because of the fear of my own demise and not wanting to believe that a.) God was going to send me to Hell or b.) I would simply vanish.  So, when Shayna crossed over I never for a second thought Shayna was gone. She is not gone. I think Shayna had that same confidence without all the studying I have had to do.  And as I was studying some more this morning, it hit me.  Was all of that in preparation for this moment?  I ask that because it’s the only thing keeping me sane right now.

After starting the day with the numb feeling and being worried that I wasn’t grieving properly or enough or whatever, I had several crying spells that let me know for sure it was not over. So, put that worry aside.

Today I had a meeting with someone I would like to believe will become a friend.  The daughter of some friends introduced us because this guy has been on a spiritual quest for the last few years after losing his mother.  He has become what some would call an intuitive.  He seems to know things about Shayna that I was really curious to hear. So, we met for lunch.  He told me things about Shayna and Kayla that brought me great comfort and peace.  He gave me some advice that I think will be very beneficial to me.  Ty went along with me so she got to hear it first hand. It brought her comfort also.

The point I would like to make with this entry though is I learned of this guy from the daughter of a friend who was a bit reluctant to reach out to me.  I’m glad she overcame that reluctance.  We have never met and she wasn’t sure if she might offend me by even offering what he had told her about Shayna and her state now.  I’m glad she took that risk. Another friend sent me the link to the interview of a doctor who had had an NDE.  She was concerned that there were “triggers” in the interview that might upset me.  What I don’t think she knew is I read about everything I can get my hands on about NDEs for many years. That had slowed down as I became comfortable with my own death.  With Shayna’s death, my obsession has rekindled.  That link led to another link which led to another link which led to a virtual treasure trove of after life knowledge (We Don’t Die Radio) that I have been consuming as fast as I can get it into my tiny brain. We we have these two people who were a bit hesitant to offer something.  They both did and I am richer for it. I think these things were meant to come into my life and I’m glad they came through those two people.  And there are many more examples too numerous to name. I got a message just this morning from a woman I don’t know. The friend of a friend (a friend I have only met one time). It was just the message I needed at that time.  If you feel you have a message for someone, I would like to encourage you to share it.  I can say that dozens, if not hundreds of people have reached out to me during this time and all of it has been beneficial. Do some people say the wrong things?  Yes, they do.  However the sincere thought behind it makes up for the clumsy words that we all use sometimes.

I studied NDEs for years because I grew up fearful of death because of the church I was raised in. When I rejected the teaching that God sends people to eternal hell, I was headed for the other ditch.  That is the idea there there is no God at all and that we simply vanish when we die.  Studying what we know about the afterlife has helped restore my faith.  It allowed me to overcome the panic attacks I had for about 25 years and to enjoy the years with Shayna and Kayla and Ty.  Was I preparing (or being prepared) for this? I’m starting to believe I was. I can say this.  It’s saving my sanity because without that preparation for this event, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to survive this and I mean that literally.  

This is the way Shayna lived. This is the way we all should live.

The last two days have been days of fear, anger, depression, grief, terror, you name it- all the bad emotions rolled into one. I understand all of these emotions. They’re like old friends coming and going. They come in visit for a while and then pass to make room for the next one.  Today I wake up and I’m not crying. What is this?  I actually make it out of bed without shedding a tear. It’s Monday.  I’m off to a slow start. I blog about my day and then do that thing you do when you don’t want to actually work- start checking Facebook. I get some work done, but I’ve been putting off my walk. I’m kind of numb.  Not super energetic, but just kind of working my way through the day. 

My friend Kofi stops by.  Kofi is my Jehovah’s Witness friend who stops by every few weeks for theological discussions. I guess he thinks he’s recruiting me, but I may be having more influence on him. I’m just not up to talking today though. Nothing is getting done and I can’t take the time out to talk to him. I tell him that I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t have time today.  He says “OK, but quickly, I’ve noticed these purple ribbons in the neighborhood and I see this wreath on your door. What happened?”  I tell him that my daughter has passed. I can barely get the words out when the tears quickly follow. Ah, there it is.  I was wondering where the grief had gone.  Kofi doubles over at the waist at the news. He’s speechless. I try to tell him what happened, but my voice is gone. I finally get it out.  We embrace and he says he is so sorry and will come back another day.  Well, I made it till about 10:30 without crying.

It’s noon. It’s hot. It’s muggy, but the walk has to be done. I credit the walks with keeping me sane.  I get the walk in.  I come back and do some more work, get some orders out.  I even listen to some music while I’m working. This is the first time in a month I’ve listened to more than one song at a time. It’s Evanescence. It’s reaching a place in me that hasn’t been reached in a long time. I can feel it in my soul. The longing, the pain, the yearning expressed through Amy Lee’s amazing voice and their angry guitars.  It’s perfect.  Ironically, all the pain in their music is making me feel better.

Kayla has the day off today. She and Ty go out to do some shopping. I’m home alone.  Yesterday being home alone was miserable, but today I’m OK. This feels strange. I do some meditation.  I get through the meditation OK.  

After our old friend brings dinner over, Ty and Kayla decide we’re going out for dessert. Ty promised to have cake on her birthday in honor of Shayna and didn’t do it. We know Shayna would not be pleased.  Normally, the three of them would go out for dessert and I would stay at home, but Kayla wants me to go with them so I go along. We go to Applebee’s. That holds special memories for us because it was Kayla’s favorite restaurant for a very long time. We’d always go on her birthday and every single year she was surprised when they sang to her.  

It’s a good day and a good night.  Today I wake up feeling pretty good, too.  That’s two days in a row.  I’m confused by this.  I understand anger and frustration and grief and depression and all that.  This feeling of nothing is a new one. I don’t feel great, but I’m not feeling bad.  I didn’t cry yesterday morning. I’m not crying this morning.  I think maybe I’m forgetting about Shayna. The longing for her is fading. Do I want that? I know I don’t want to forget her. I am confused.  People tell me it will get better with time. Do I want it to get “better”?  I don’t know.  I’m confused. So, here come the tears again. Today I cry tears of confusion.  Some day I will feel better, I guess, but I’m not sure I really want to feel better right now.  

I listen to a podcast on my walk.  It’s one about grief and life after death, my usual fare. The first thing I hear is that when we are in deep grief, it’s difficult for our loved ones to send us signs because they can’t get through to us. The grief puts us at a very low vibrational energy level (even lower than normal for Earth) and Spirit operates at a high vibrational energy level. So, if you want to hear from them, you have to raise your energy level. OK, Brian.  You’re going to have to pick yourself up.