I linger in the doorway
Of alarm clock screaming
Monsters calling my name
Let me stay
Where the wind will whisper to me
Where the raindrops, as they’re falling, tell a story

In my field of paper flowers
And candy clouds of lullaby (flowers)
I lie inside myself for hours
And watch my purple sky fly over me (flowers)

Don’t say I’m out of touch
With this rampant chaos – your reality
I know well what lies beyond my sleeping refuge
The nightmare I built my own world to escape

Swallowed up in the sound of my screaming
Cannot cease for the fear of silent nights
Oh, how I long for the deep sleep dreaming
The goddess of imaginary light

Evanescence-Imaginary

Kayla is home for the weekend. I love it when she comes home. Nothing is better. It is so cool having your daughter as one of your best friends. Kayla gets me and I get her. Our relationship isn’t like hers and Shayna’s, of course. And I don’t kid myself that I am her best friend. She misses her silly sister to have strange conversations with like “If Zoe were a human what would her favorite color be?”, but Kayla and I love being together.

We all go out for Mexican tonight and we talk about just life. This one, the next one, time itself, all that stuff. This is conversation we would not have had with Ty a year ago, but a lot has changed in a year. Kayla has had a dream about Shayna where she asks her something about the future and whether a certain thing will happen since Shayna probably has some insight into that now. Ty asks Kayla to ask about whether we will make it. I ask her what she means by “Will we make it?” She clarifies “Through this grief. Will we make it through this grief?” I think Kayla and I have the same thought. We don’t need to ask Shayna. I say “Yes, we will make it because there is no other option.” There is no not making it. We will live as long as we will and we will have the grief. Then we will die and the grief will be over. The grief will not pass as long as we live. And the grief will not continue after we die. Whether that is a day, a year, a decade or several decades, we will make it. We don’t need someone in the spirit world to answer that question. Kayla reiterates to Ty that Shayna has told her that she is around. Others have told us Shayna is around us. We talk about her being here and us not being able to raise our vibrational levels high enough to to sense her. In my dreams is when I see her. That is common because our thinking brains don’t get in the way, as much. But as soon as I realize Shayna has passed and I get excited about seeing her I usually break the connection. We decide to come home and watch then movie Ghost. Kayla has never seen it.

In the movie, Patrick Swayze is killed suddenly and his girlfriend, Demi Moore, is the one who can’t sense him. He has to find a medium, Whoopi Goldberg, to be their go-between. But he is still there, still concerned about her life, still active in her life as he guides her through a dangerous situation. We all think about our Shayna as we watch the movie. We remain cognizant that she is still here, still part of the family even though we can’t usually sense her. Ty and I are both working on trying to become more attuned to her presence.

One thing we do know. This won’t be forever. Ty tells us Shayna’s passing has gotten her over her fear of death. Ty has been through the slow death of her father from Alzheimer’s and now is watching her mother go through a similar process with dementia. She has learned so much over the past five plus years. I got over my fear of death a while ago, but Shayna’s passing gives me something to look forward to. If I live, fine. If I die, great. Kayla tells us she has never feared death because she knows it will better than here. Not that she wants to go any time soon, but Kayla seems to just have a knowing about certain things.

After Ghost, we head off to bed and to dreamland. It’s been a very good night spent with my two favorite people on the planet reminiscing about and looking forward to seeing my favorite person in heaven.

Today we make the drive up to UT to pick Kayla up from school. It’s the letting go of more things. We have agreed to let Kayla take my old car back to school with her this time so she won’t be dependent on us to have to pick her up and take her back to school. I should be happy about this. It will save me twelve hours in the car several times a year and my new car that has been racking up the miles will be saved some miles on the odometer, but it’s another step towards her independence from me, so I’ve been resisting it. It is time to let it go. In a couple of days she will drive off to Toledo on her own for the first time.

Today is also the day when I meet her boyfriend for the first time. This is the first boy Kayla has wanted us (or at least me) to meet. She hasn’t even mentioned him to me directly. All communication about him has been through Ty. I don’t ask questions about him. I always knew whatever boy Kayla found would not be good enough for me. It doesn’t matter. She will always be my little girl. I’ve always known that one day I would have to deal with this and one day she will ask me to walk her down the aisle and give her away, well maybe not. She is a huge feminist, but the impact on me will be the same. One day, in the not distant future, I will really have to let her go. Shayna leaving us so suddenly didn’t help. I’ve gone from being Dad and Daddy to not knowing my place in the world anymore. This day is one more nail in that coffin.

Ty and I meet her boyfriend in the Starbucks on campus. He’s a nice young man. Very bright. Well spoken. He’s a pharmacy major. A geek. Yeah, nice kid. Doesn’t matter. He’s taking my Kayla away. I don’t like him. But, I know I have to make nice for Kayla and for Ty, so I do my best.

Letting go… It’s all letting go now. There is a time in life when you are adding things, building, creating. Then, we turn a corner and it seems to be about letting go. The kids grow up and move away. You’re downsizing the house. You find you can’t buy everything at Costco anymore because there are only two of you. The hustling bustling household has less and less members. Waiting for the end to come is all I can think of right now. That line from Linkin Park keeps rattling around in my brain.

Yeah, pretty much just this. Perfectly said with amazing visuals.

Tonight I attend the 60th birthday part of a good friend. This is one of the rare places where I am one of the younger ones in the room. Ty and I are seated at a table with a vibrant, youthful 65 year old guy and a “young couple”. He’s 45 and she’s 39- facing her 40th birthday.  The conversation turns to aging. The older gentleman tells us his age and none of us can believe he’s actually 65.  His mother is in her late 80s and still active. His grandparents lived into their 90s, but he’s struggling with being 65.  Mortality is not something he wants to face.  High school reunions wreck him because the people there look so old.  The death of David Bowie shook him.  Bowie was just barely older than he is.  He enjoys life and does not want to go.  We’ve been talking for a while so he knows a little about us.  He says “people like us” want to stay here and enjoy life.  How little does he know about me.  I grin and bite my tongue. My mortality is a gift. I’m not particularly looking forward to staying here. Quite the opposite.  I don’t want to live in this body forever.  I commiserate with the “girl” (she’s a girl to me) turning 40.  She’s looking back over her life and the things she has and hasn’t done and 40 is a tough milestone for her. I tell her 40 was a rough birthday for me. It was. It was the toughest one.  At 30 I felt kind of old, but I felt like I was finally an adult. And I had most of my life still stretched out in front of me.  At 50 I didn’t really care about aging anymore, but 40 was a real turning point.  40 was when I realized I was probably more than half way.

The problem the 65 year old has is he keeps looking 20 years out. So, at 65 when he looks 20 years out, his future becomes murky.  Yes, his parents lived that long, his grandparents lived longer than that, but he’s not assured he’s going to be here and be healthy that far down the the line. Then the soon to be 40 year old says something profound.  "Don’t look 20 years out. Think about now.  Think about today. Enjoy the music being played in this room right now. Enjoy the conversation tonight.  This is all we have.“  

Yes!  I spare them the lesson learned from Shayna’s passing. I don’t want to pile on him, but this is something at his age he needs to know.    Tomorrow isn’t assured to any of us. Worrying about 20 years out is a waste of your time whether your’e 5, 15, 25 or 65. Yes, we have to plan for these bodies. We have to save and build homes and the like.  We need to take reasonable care of the vehicles that house our souls for this trip.  But, I wanted to tell him to not spend another moment worried about where he’s going to be in 20 years because, as Jesus so profoundly said

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Truer words have never been spoken.  Be grateful for the 65 years you’ve had, your health today.  The fact your parents have made it to the 80s with good health is a bonus. Be glad for that, but it’s no guarantee for you.  And worrying about it will not add a single day, nay even an single hour to your time. Carpe diem.  As for me, every day I put behind me is a blessing as I continue to run toward the end of this dream.

Sweet escape…

This place is a dream.
Only a sleeper considers it real.
Then death comes like dawn, and you wake up laughing at what you thought was your grief.

But there’s a difference with this dream.
Everything cruel and unconscious done in the illusion of the present world, all that does not fade away at the death-waking.

It stays, and it must be interpreted.

All the mean laughing, all the quick, sexual wanting, those torn coats of Joseph, they change into powerful wolves that you must face.

The retaliation that sometimes comes now, the swift, payback hit, is just a boy’s game to what the other will be.

You know about circumcision here. It’s full castration there!

And this groggy time we live, this is what it’s like:
A man goes to sleep in the town where he has always lived, and he dreams he’s living in another town. In the dream, he doesn’t remember the town he’s sleeping in his bed in.
He believes the reality of the dream town.

The world is that kind of sleep.

The dust of many crumbled cities settles over us like a forgetful doze, but we are older than those cities.
We began as a mineral.
We emerged into plant life and into the animal state, and then into being human, and always we have forgotten our former states, except in early spring when we slightly recall being green again. That’s how a young person turns toward a teacher.
That’s how a baby leans toward the breast, without knowing the secret of its desire, yet turning instinctively.

Humankind is being led along an evolving course, through this migration of intelligences, and though we seem to be sleeping, there is an inner wakefulness that directs the dream, and that will eventually startle us back to the truth of who we are.

Barks, Coleman; Jalal al-Din Rumi (2010-09-14). The Essential Rumi – reissue: New Expanded Edition (pp. 112-113). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Today, in response to one of my posts, a friend makes a casual comment about how she has prepared bodies for burial, seen the empty shell and while she would like to believe in heaven, she just doesn’t.  According to her, grief is just the price we pay for love, but there is no reunion, no ultimate joy (my words).  Birth, as we come in, and death, we we go out, are great mysteries.  However, there is nothing beyond.  This is it.  I have other friends who share this belief. 

These words cut me like a knife.  Of course that was not her intent, but this something I need to think about.  While my faith has been growing and changing over the years, in dramatic ways, I would describe it as stronger than ever.  It’s more solid.  It’s based on evidence, logic, reason, inspiration, science and on that knowing from within. So, why should one casual comment send me reeling?  Why do I fear the foundation crumbling from under me? I can have a hundred things confirm my world view and just one thing in opposition makes me question the whole thing.  Why that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear the words of just one person? I heard a statistic a couple of days ago about the percentage of people who believe in an afterlife and it was stunningly low, IMO. The very fundamental question of who/what we are, where we came from, where we are going is not answered for so many of us.  We think we are organic robots, an accident of an uncaring universe.  Our consciousness arose from the star dust that collected to form our brains, was birthed when the brain gathered enough cells to become self-aware and dies when the brain doesn’t have enough oxygen to keep functioning.  That is the story much of the world believes and it makes me profoundly sad, even though I believe that is the way it’s supposed to be, for them.

We come to live behind this veil and, for some reason, we’re supposed to forget who we are and become totally immersed. It’s only in the cards for some of us to wake up to the reality beyond the Matrix right now.  And it’s not an easy thing to do. However, some of us could not survive here without this awakening. I am among those people.  I need this belief to navigate this place.  What I find amazing is as I listen even to people who are mediums who have direct contact with the Other Side, who have not only seen evidence, they have produced it themselves, they often are just like me.  They are constantly seeking reassurance. They constantly question whether what we believe is self-delusion, just stories we tell ourselves so that we can sleep at night.  Is it all too good to be true? We’ve all heard if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Comments like that still knock me off my feet, even as strong as my faith has become, but it’s only for a little while. I’m getting back up faster and faster.

Today it has been 214 days since Shayna’s passing. It’s been 7 months of unbelievable hell on Earth. 214 days without the light of my life. If you had told me on that day that I’d still be here 7 months from then, I would have told you no way. I don’t know what I thought would happen. I don’t know how I thought I’d depart, but to think I would survive this long was unimaginable to me. There is no way I could make it 7 months. There is no way I could make it 214 days. There is no way I can make it 7 more months or 7 more years or… But, what I have realized this is; while I couldn’t make it 214 days, I could make one day 214 times. And that’s exactly what it’s been. Every day I find a way to get up. I find something I need to get done. I think of someone I need to do something for. When I’m really feeling down during the day, I try to find something that I can do for someone else and that gets me going again. Ty and Kayla are my greatest motivation, but anything I can do for anyone helps. A word of encouragement, a small financial donation for someone in need. I don’t give much to charity anymore, I give to individuals. It doesn’t have to be anything that we could consider big because I’ve found the smallest things are often the biggest. Sometimes it’s just putting down the ideas that pop into my head at 3 o’clock in the morning, spreading them out to the world and hoping they take seed somewhere. Then, every night, I crawl beneath the covers and am grateful I’ve made it through one more day. I’m one more day closer to Mission Accomplished and one day closer to home.

It’s like the Israelites when they were wandering in the desert. God gave them “manna” from heaven. Manna is Hebrew for “what is it”?. This mystery food fell like frost during the night and was gathered up in the morning. The Jews only got enough for one day at a time. They got a double portion the day before the Sabbath so they wouldn’t have to gather on the Sabbath, but the general rule was only enough for today. That is my life now. I write this at 8 AM on a Sunday morning. During the night, God gave me inspiration and energy that I didn’t have when I went to bed last night. I don’t know how I can make it through the week, but I don’t have to. I’m pretty sure I can make it through today and that’s enough.

Ty and I are driving to Costco and talking about grief and its various forms. The death of a child is arguably the worst thing that can happen to a person and I would not argue against it, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t thousands of other forms of grief.
We can grieve everything from the loss of a job to the death of a loved one and anything in between. I remember being devastated when my parents pulled me from my school and my friends when I was in eighth grade. I thought it was the end of the world. We have friends going through various forms of grief now.

Ty asks me a question that really makes me think. She asks if I grieve my divorce from Mary. Hmmm….. I really have to think about that. It’s not something I think about much anymore. Hardly ever. Do I regret getting married? No. I wouldn’t be who I am today had I not had that experience? Do I regret getting divorced? No. I wouldn’t have met Ty or have Kayla and Shayna had I not gotten divorced? Yet, when I got divorced, it was as if a part of me died. In marriage, two people become one. My identity was wrapped up with Mary. I was her husband. I became that person. When we got divorced, the person I had become no longer existed. It was like a death in a very real sense. I haven’t seen or heard from Mary in over 25 years. I don’t know if she is alive or where she is, so in a practical sense, she is dead to me. But, all in all, I would have to say “No. I don’t grieve that anymore.” I am over it.

Then a horrifying thought occurs to me. There are very real parallels between the death of my marriage, the most important relationship in my life to that point, and not having Shayna here with me anymore. If I got over that, is it possible I could get over this? I quickly tell Ty “No it’s different with Shayna. I will never get over this.” I realize I don’t want to get over it. It’s not just a declarative statement, it’s a wish, an affirmation. I will not get over this, both in the sense that it won’t happen and it’s not my will for it to happen. I don’t want to move on. People talk in terms of “getting through” grief and “moving on” with our lives. I think it’s assumed we should want to get back to “normal” to go on with life as if the person we no longer have with us was never part of our lives. It hits me that one of the reasons I don’t want to live for a whole lot longer is the longer I live the greater the possibility I will “move on” and that thought terrifies me.