Today starts at o’dark thirty. We are leaving to fly to Colorado to visit my good friend Kevin. Kevin and I met when we worked at a series of companies together. We have shared many late night deep philosophical conversations at various conferences and training sessions. We have never lived in the same city, but we have developed a bond that I really can’t describe. Kevin has been a lifeline through these last three months. Kevin moved from Ohio to Colorado about four years ago and has been trying to get me to visit ever since, but my vacations have been with the girls, to the beach or to Shayna’s tournaments. I hate to travel, detest flying so I’ve always begged off. Now with Kayla at UT and Shayna no longer here I am out of excuses and we are going. People keep asking me if I’m excited about the trip. Well, yes and no. Excited about seeing Kevin and Julie, but dreading traveling. 

Ty and I rise at 3:45 to make a 6:20 flight out of Dayton. We fly through Dallas and arrive in Denver around noon, thanks to a two hour time change in our favor. Parker, CO is beautiful and Kevin, his wife Julie and his boys are welcoming hosts. But, I am exhausted. I normally have a high level of energy regardless of lack of sleep, travel, whatever. Not today. I develop a headache that just will not go away and it’s all I can do to keep sitting upright through dinner at 6PM.

A weird side effect of not having Shayna back at home is my fear of flying is gone. Before I would have worried about the plane crashing or having some sudden death event while I was away. Plane crash? Bring it on. My panic attacks I used to have when I was away from the girls and away from my safe place, home, are gone. People who suffer from panic attacks often have a safe place or a safe person. Ty is with me. Kayla is at college. There is no one waiting for me to come home. One of the reasons I have hated travel so much is leaving Ty and/or the girls. The vacations we had where we were all together I have been relaxed. Now I kind of feel the same way-relaxed but no matter what I’m doing there is the thought of Shayna right there waiting to manifest.

I make it as long as I can which is about 9 o’clock mountain time (11 back home) and I have to turn in. I make my apologies to my hosts and head to bed for some relief. Sleep comes easily. We will start again tomorrow.

brianwestchest:

Today I have just had it. It’s tax time. I’ve put it off for a long as possible. Last year’s taxes have to be done now, nine months later. I have not been able to bring myself to face the numbers. These last several years with the business have been incredibly stressful. No matter what I do, I cannot get it to grow. New products, consultants, advertising companies, PR companies, SEO companies, new web design, social media companies. Everyone over promises and under delivers. They don’t even return phone calls. They all just suck. Then Shayna started having health problems about five years ago. Arthritis, injuries, the heart thing. I thought if I could just make it a few more years the business had generated enough wealth that Ty could take it over and the insurance money and our savings would be enough to sustain her and the girls’ college was paid for. I saw the finish line and I was ready.

I thought Shayna had made it out of the woods. She had paid her dues. Shayna’s arthritis had been in remission for years. No flares. No damage. Her heart condition was considered a mere nuisance. I held out hope that one day there would be a cure for her RA. And the heart thing, well it was nothing. Shayna would be good.

Before we go to bed, Ty mentions she still isn’t used to the house without Shayna. I know just what she means. My first thought is its like TV in black and white after you’ve gotten used to color. Or “gray” TV as Shayna called it. It’s more like color TV where one of the guns isn’t firing and there is no red. The colors are there, they’re just off. Black and white is at least balanced.

Tonight I just lie tossing and turning. I don’t know what to do next. I feel like the opposite of King Midas. Everything he touched turned to gold. What is the opposite of that? Everything I touch turns to shit. I’m so tired of even trying and I don’t know what to try next. It feels like running on a treadmill. I have to live now for Ty and Kayla. I don’t know what will become of this business long term. I’m 54 years old and haven’t done anything else in more than a decade. I don’t even know what else I would do. I can’t imagine decades of living without Shayna always imagining her 15 year old self, but I can’t leave Ty and Kayla either.

I finally fall asleep and I dream about Shayna. She is her 15 year old self and she is lying on the bed listening to music in her iPhone as I watch TV. Something comes on the TV that interests her and she pops up, excited the way she always was talking 100 MPH. I remember she is dead and I am excited to see her. I reach out to grab her and squeeze her and I wake up again. I think I know why Kayla is getting visits from Shayna and I am not. I don’t think I can handle them right now.

From meditation I’ve learned to direct my thoughts. So I take them off of my pity party and decide to think about anything else so I can get some rest. It works and I’m able to get to sleep, the only place of relief right now. Tomorrow, I’ve got to finish the taxes and try one or ten more things to turn the business around. I’m going to need this rest.

Today I have just had it. It’s tax time. I’ve put it off for a long as possible. Last year’s taxes have to be done now, nine months later. I have not been able to bring myself to face the numbers. These last several years with the business have been incredibly stressful. No matter what I do, I cannot get it to grow. New products, consultants, advertising companies, PR companies, SEO companies, new web design, social media companies. Everyone over promises and under delivers. They don’t even return phone calls. They all just suck. Then Shayna started having health problems about five years ago. Arthritis, injuries, the heart thing. I thought if I could just make it a few more years the business had generated enough wealth that Ty could take it over and the insurance money and our savings would be enough to sustain her and the girls’ college was paid for. I saw the finish line and I was ready. 

I thought Shayna had made it out of the woods. She had paid her dues. Shayna’s arthritis had been in remission for years. No flares. No damage. Her heart condition was considered a mere nuisance. I held out hope that one day there would be a cure for her RA. And the heart thing, well it was nothing. Shayna would be good. 

Before we go to bed, Ty mentions she still isn’t used to the house without Shayna. I know just what she means. My first thought is its like TV in black and white after you’ve gotten used to color. Or “gray” TV as Shayna called it. It’s more like color TV where one of the guns isn’t firing and there is no red. The colors are there, they’re just off. Black and white is at least balanced.

Tonight I just lie tossing and turning. I don’t know what to do next. I feel like the opposite of King Midas. Everything he touched turned to gold. What is the opposite of that? Everything I touch turns to shit. I’m so tired of even trying and I don’t know what to try next. It feels like running on a treadmill. I have to live now for Ty and Kayla. I don’t know what will become of this business long term. I’m 54 years old and haven’t done anything else in more than a decade. I don’t even know what else I would do. I can’t imagine decades of living without Shayna always imagining her 15 year old self, but I can’t leave Ty and Kayla either. 

I finally fall asleep and I dream about Shayna. She is her 15 year old self and she is lying on the bed listening to music in her iPhone as I watch TV. Something comes on the TV that interests her and she pops up, excited the way she always was talking 100 MPH. I remember she is dead and I am excited to see her. I reach out to grab her and squeeze her and I wake up again. I think I know why Kayla is getting visits from Shayna and I am not. I don’t think I can handle them right now. 

From meditation I’ve learned to direct my thoughts. So I take them off of my pity party and decide to think about anything else so I can get some rest. It works and I’m able to get to sleep, the only place of relief right now. Tomorrow, I’ve got to finish the taxes and try one or ten more things to turn the business around. I’m going to need this rest.

My meditation practice is very important to me now.  I discovered meditation many years ago when I thought I was going nuts and had to find something to calm my mind- besides drugs.  Contemplative prayer caught my attention and that started me on a journey that led to meditation which I found to be quite beneficial.  I recall many years being in church and hearing people say “God told me this or God told me that.”  I wondered why God talked to all these other people and never talked to me. I begged God to talk to me. I talked to Him.  Nothing. Not a word. Not a peep. For decades.  Finally, when I started meditating, I started hearing from God. I remember one day being in a hotel room in Chicago.  I was sitting and meditating and felt this overwhelming sense of peace. Nothing in my circumstances had changed. All the things that were stressing me out were still there, but I had shifted. And I heard the “voice of God” say to me “You can come back here any time you like.”  Weird that I remember that moment even now- what has got to me 15 or more years later.

I got too busy for meditation in recent years though.  I was too busy exercising my body to worry about my mind.  Meditation is like exercising.  You feel great when you’re doing it, but stop for a day or two and it turns into a week, which turns into a month which turns into years. The results are not drastic or immediate and missing a few days won’t cause any noticeable difference.  But over the course of weeks or months, you’re sluggish, you’re fat, your muscle tone is gone.  After Shayna passed, I was meeting with my friend Nico who has reached a level of spirituality that I covet.  Nico is able to communicate with spirits and I wanted to be able to reach Shayna. So, the reason I started my practice up again was that, to be able to reach Shayna.  However, over the last few weeks that is no longer the primary reason.  I remembered that when I meditated I actually could hear from God or from my guides or my Higher Self or whatever you want to call it. When I meditated, I felt calmer.  I was more patient. When I meditated I felt like a better person, more who I was meant to be. And as I’ve been retraining my mind I realize that the person I will be when I shed this skin is there already inside just waiting for me to reach him and meditation is the way to experience him now.

As a Christian I was taught that God is transcendent.  God is out there. God is the Creator. All of that is true, but God is also immanent.  God manifests through His creation, including me. God is the ocean and I am a drop. I have access to God within myself. I don’t have to reach “out there” somewhere. I can just sit and be me and contact my Source. I can get inside and glimpse what I truly am, an eternal Spirit having a human experience.  Reading about this, listening to sermons, that stuff is helpful. But, to truly experience the divine, you have to meditate.  You have to still your mind.  You have to turn off all the distractions and focus.  There are many ways to meditate (too many which tends to trip some people including myself) up.  

So yeah, that’s why I meditate.  I’m making it a daily practice again and I hope not to give it up again.

Today is Monday and Mondays are (particularly) difficult as it’s back to the reality of the work week time. Kayla was home for the weekend and we dropped her off yesterday. 

I get a pleasant surprise today, my Facebook friend Rich calls and says he’s coming to Cincinnati this afternoon. Rich is a guy I’ve known on Facebook for a while now, but we have only met once face-to-face when he flew in from Atlanta for Shayna’s service.  I had no idea he was coming.  He walked up and introduced himself to me. We could only talk for a couple of minutes because there were literally hundreds of people there I had to greet. Rich didn’t intrude at all, just wanted to be there to support me.  He will never know how much of an impact that gesture made on me.  Today he is in Ohio for a series of meetings, but he drives hours out of his way just to sit down with me face-to-face.  He gives me a pep talk because he’s pissed that I blogged that my best days are behind me.   Rich is here to kick my butt and get me into gear. The fact that he would take the time to drive here to do this is amazing to me. I explain to him that’s how I feel right now and how I feel sometimes because I know he can understand. Rich is just like me. Rich is successful, for his family. Rich lives, for his family. Rich would do anything for his two kids and his wife. Rich feels that his family is what he was put here to do. We are builders. We are fixers. We are protectors.  That’s our identity. I explain to Rich that my friend Deb has identified me as a probable 9 on the enneagram chart. That means I merge with people.  I don’t see Ty and Kayla and Shayna as separate people, we are a unit.  Not having Shayna here physically anymore, for me, is something only someone with my personality type can truly understand.  Rich encourages me that I will find purpose in life again. I will find joy again.  Yeah, maybe Rich. But, for right now, for today, it’s just survival mode.  It’s just fake it till you make it.  I’ll try to do things to help other people.  I’ll work to fill whatever purpose I have left, but wow; it’s not easy and there’s no joy in the work at the moment.

Never let it be said that social media is just a waste of time.  Sure, it can be, but I have made genuine friends on Facebook (and before that other media). Some of whom have been friends for years and I’ve never met and some, like Rich, who I have met once or twice now.  

As I’m lying in bed I’m going in and out of these different states of consciousness like I’m prone to do now. I have a pleasant dream about Shayna.  It’s the fifth grade or so version of Shayna. She’s little and slightly pudgy like she was before her growth spurt.  When I see her I know she is supposed to be dead and gone, but I am SO overjoyed that she’s here in my dream. I give her a big hug which feels wonderful.  Ahh… finally.  I wouldn’t call it a visit from Shayna. It was just a dream. The memory faded fast. I can only remember bits of it, but it was nice.  Then around 3 AM which is when I so often hit that stage of deep relaxation, but I’m fully conscious, the words come to me “Find reasons, not excuses.”  Just that sentence. It plays over and over in my head.  I think it means to find reasons to continue to go on, not excuses for not going on.  It keeps playing in my head until I acknowledge it, then I’m back to sleepy land for a while longer.  

Today is going along pretty well when, out of nowhere, the Butler County Coroner’s office calls again. 12 weeks after Shayna’s passing and we still don’t have a cause of death.  I’ve come to accept we never will. And, if we did, what difference would it make?

The coroner’s office has been in contact with Shayna’s cardiologist. They haven’t come to any conclusions. Children’s Hospital would like specimens taken during Shayna’s autopsy.  They are saying it is most likely some type of arrhythmia, but this isn’t based on any evidence or even Shayna’s medical history.  It’s based on a process of elimination. They can find no other cause.

The coroner thanks me for my patience over all these weeks. Sure. What else am I going to do?  You better believe if the cause of death made any difference in the outcome I would have been camped out on your doorstep. But, nothing we can do or say will change what happened. I told the cardiologist when we met with him several weeks ago I have no interest in looking back over Shayna’s case except as it might be helpful for anything we need to look out for Kayla.  Kayla has had a full cardio workup and showed to be completely normal.

This call, for some reason, throws me completely off kilter.  It’s just another reminder of the reality and the finality and how my baby was taken from me. It’s just so surreal. Ty and I will feel like we’re doing fine, then we’ll look up and think “This is real.  This really happened.”  Twelve weeks and mostly we’ve accepted the reality.  But, frankly, not fully.  We were going along as a happy family looking forward Shayna’s sophomore year, just returning from an awesome volleyball nationals tournament and sleeping in the new room Shayna had just finished redecorating. Then, out of the blue, with no warning and making no sense at all, she’s just gone.  Vanished.

A friend reaches out to me. She tells me how angry she is this happened to me and to my family. She tells me that she keeps wrestling with the questions “Why?” and “How?”  I remind her anger is not productive.  I really am not angry.  That is for the most part- there are those flashes when it flares up against my will.  Again, if anger could bring her back, I’d go through a pack of lions to get to her. But, anger will not change the past.  Anger will only consume me. Asking “why?” while a natural reaction, is a waste of energy and an exercise in futility. It  is highly unlikely we will ever know what happened, let alone why.   The question to be asked is “What now?  Given today’s reality, what do I do now?  That is the question I try to ask myself every morning and every moment that I can remain aware of where my thoughts are going.  I can control my thoughts. And, to an extent, I can control my emotions, through the process of controlling my thoughts. I can’t change the past. The future isn’t certain.  There may not even be a future (here).  All I have is now.  So, what now?

Thanks.

Thanks. I just started reading it last night, before I saw your comment.

Synchronicity.

I’ve never charged a crystal. My friend Nico did. Shayna is my daughter who passed away in June. My blog is dedicated to her.

No, it was not a visit from Shayna.  But, this dream had a strange quality to it.  I dream often about traveling and being unprepared and disoriented.  In this dream I was on a road trip on my bike with Stevie and Zoe. They were running along beside me. I had this liquid metal that I could throw on the ground and then form it into things with my mind. I was using it to create a chain that I was attaching to my bicycle (I have no idea why).  One time when I tossed it on the ground, Stevie started lapping it up.  It was just as it was in the process of forming into a solid object and I knew if I didn’t get it out of her she would die. So I reached inside of her a pulled out this long, thin chain and a bunch of other stuff that she had eaten.  

Later in our trip, we were crossing a bridge. Stevie ended up on the wrong side of the supports and as she was trying to get back in, she fell into the river below. I didn’t panic. I knew she’d be OK. Telepathically, I communicated to her to just swim to the shore. When she resurfaced, she looked up at me, smiled (yes, she smiled) and swam calmly to shore.

Then, I was in a restaurant and my cousin was there and Ty.  I was telling them the story of my adventures when it dawned on me none of this was possible. The physics of this world were all wrong.  I had a decision to make. Do I tell them I believe this is a dream?  I decided to tell them.  Just as I started to say “Hey, this isn’t real, we are are in a dream.” I felt myself being pulled backwards and upwards out of my body and found myself awake in my bed.

Now, when I came downstairs this morning I found a pair of my earphones on the floor in my office. And, Stevie had eaten the cushions off of them.