Quote from Silver Birch

THE seed of truth cannot grow where the heart is hard and the mind is stony, but can flourish only where there is a receptive soul, one who is ready to receive truth and to follow truth wherever she leads. “Before you can be so inclined, before you are readyfor truth to dwell in your midst, you must have endured some of those experiences which life provides in order to make you ready for truth. “When you had those experiences you may have thought that life was bitter and harsh and unkind, that you were forgotten or lonely, or neglected, and fate had dealt you a very hard blow. But the soul grows through adversity and the pure gold emerges after the processes of crushing and refining have taken place.

from “The Silver Birch Book of Questions & Answers (Silver Birch Series)”

It’s been almost exactly a year since my first medium reading and we had been discussing medium readings in group I’m in.  So I wanted to go back and listen to the reading again.

As I was listening, I noticed there was a section of the reading that was missing.  I knew there were some things she had said that weren’t in what I heard back.  I thought maybe I had spaced out for a while. So, i went back and listened again.  I didn’t notice where the gap was because there were long pauses during the reading, but again, I knew something was missing. When I got to where she said she was turning off the recording, the time indicator showed there were 8 minutes left in the audio. But, there was silence.  I went back in the audio and played some more. Then, I went back to the last 8 minutes expecting to find silence. But, this time when I played it back, the counter counted all the way down to zero and the audio ended there.

I came back and compared what I heard to my transcript of the reading and found out where the missing section was.  There is a section of the audio that is simply gone.  I found the original audio file sent to me by the medium and the section is there.

So, then I looked at the total length of each file. One said 48:10 and the other 48:09.  How is this possible?   So, I went back and played the file that was missing the section.  I’ve listened to that section three times now and it was not there.  When I listen to it on my computer, it’s there.  When I listen to the same file from my phone the section is not there, but the total length of the audio shows it’s the same time.

Today is Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday since I have been grown. It’s a time when family gathers without the financial stress of shopping for everyone and the chore of trying to pick the right gifts for people who already have everything. Thanksgiving means spending time with either my famiy or Tywana’s. I love both. But, now there is. dark side to Thanksgiving. It’s another milestone of spending time without Shayna.

Shell and her family are in town for Thanksgiving for the first time in over a decade. We are going to Tim’s in Versailles. Shell (Tywana’s sister) has three boys. I still think of them as boys, but I guess techincally are men since they are 18, 20 and 21 years old now. Shell’s boys have turned out to be fine young men. They are polte, respectful, thoughtful, and articulate gentlemen. They have always been great to the girls, especially Shayna who would get right in there and roughouse with them, play video games, or toss the football around. Shell and her family spend the night in Cincinnati the day before Thanksgiving before making the two hour drive to Versailles on Thanksgiving morning.

I rise early on Thanksgiving morning to get some solitude. I’m not going to be able to get my walk in today, but I do manage to get in my meditation time. Naturally, being Thankgiving, I’m focusing on gratitude. I try to recall last Thanksgiving. I can’t. It was the first time since Kayla’s first Thanksgiving, just a few days after her birth, that we didn’t go visit extended family. I did not take any pictures. I did not make an effort to remember it and it’s mercifully gone from my memory. But, the meditation is a good one as I focus on the task at hand and I am grateful for the opportunity to be here to serve.

I make breakfast sandwiches for everyone. It was Tywana’s idea to make the sandwiches, but I’m up and she’s not. So, I make the sandwiches. Shell and Rod, her husband, bring Tywana’s mother over from her retirement community. She’s in rare form today. She is not happy about anything. She keeps saying she does not want to be a bother or be in anyone’s way. So, maybe she should just stay here. We, of course, are not going to let that happen. However, I talk Shell and Rod into letting her ride with them to Versailles. Sadly, she has gotten much worse in the last year to the point we need to start looking into assisted living for her. The combination of dementia and depression are robbing her quickly of her ability to take care of herself. The will was gone long ago.

As I look at Margaret, I see myself minus the purpose that I do have left. I still need to be here for others. That drives me. She feels like her days of being useful are behind her which leaves her with no motivation to get up every day and do it all again. I feel badly for her.

We get to Tim’s and it’s a fun day of catching up. All six siblings are together for the first time in over a decade to celebrate a Thanksgiving. It’s like old times, except Felton (Tywana’s father) and Shayna aren’t there. No party is the same without the two of them. And I look at my nephews (no one on this side of the family has girls except for us). They are all in college except for two. They have girlfriends. They are driving. The oldest, Nicholas, is 21 now. Wow. They same time goes quickly. As I look at Nicholas at 21, I can easily recall when his mother, Shell, was exactly his age. I met Derrick when he was 13, the age of his eldest son. I have to remind myselfwe are not the kids we were when we met. We’re middle aged parents of college students now.

We talk Shell and Rod into spending the night with us in Cincinnati before making the trip back to Pennsylvania. The boys and Kayla get into the wine. Everyone is having a great time, including me. But, there have been many moments when I’ve slipped away to think about Shayna and have a little talk with her. I will never spend a day without her being on my mind constantly. I take comfort in the passage of time. While it seems that time drags when I look at it going forward in anticipation of days, months, years, looking back I can cover a 30 year span in the blink of an eye. I can do this.

We talk with Shell and Rod about Margaret’s current mental state and we tell them we think it’s time to start looking into assisted living. We talk about her reality right now. It’s tough. Even though she is in an amazing place where there is lots of activitiy, there are many friends, and she is safe, she feels like she is in the worst place on Earth. She’s paranoid and she feels like she is not safe there. She thinks her kids never come to see her or even call her despite the fact that Shell calls her three times a day. She can’t remember where she was today, why she was there or even where she lives. She asks if Tim just moved into this house even though he’s been there for a couple of decades and she’s been many times.

I try to draw lessons from everything. I’m in a similar place to her, focused on the wrong reality, on a reality that is not reality. I am safe. I am loved. I am not alone. In addition to my loved ones here, I know I have a great cloud of witnesses cheering me on. Even though 2016 has been the worst year ever it seems like for so many I know, I try to remained focused on the big picture. None of this is a lasting reality. We are powerful, eternal creatures playing dress up for a short time.

As we prepared to eat today, Tywana lit a candle for those of us who are not with us today. She announced to everyone what she was doing and shed a tear for her father and for Shayna. I held my tears inside, but we all know that they were both there just beyond our ability to perceive them. And we know that one day, in the not very distant future, we will celebrate the Ultimate Thanksgiving with them again.

Today is Kayla’s 20th Birthday. It’s two days before Thanksgiving. Some college students are already home for the break. Kayla isn’t coming home until tomorrow. I’m pretty sure it’s because she wants to spend her birthday with her boyfriend, Gabe.

I’m second fiddle in her life now. We haven’t see her as much this year as in the previous two years in school. When she has come home, it’s been to get her hair done. That’s OK. This is the natural order. This is the way you’re supposed to “lose” your children. They grow up. They move away. They get boyfriends. They’d rather be with their friends than with you. They get their own interests and they stop coming home as much. Kayla has a year long lease on her apartment in Toledo. She says she is going to get a job there this summer. I have been avoiding thinking about that. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

As I was coming down the stairs this morning, saying good morning to Shayna, like I do every day I heard her saying back to me “I’ll never leave you, Daddy.” That reminded me of when Kayla became a teenager and started the moodiness that comes with that age. Shayna wrote up a contract promising us she would never become a typical teenager and signed it. It hangs on the whiteboard in the basement. She was right. She didn’t become a typical teenager even though she will be forever 15 to us.

I dreamt of Shayna last night. She and Kayla and I were at the mall. We were just leaving and were on the sidewalk outside of the store. Shayna was about 7 or 8 with the chubby face she had at one time. She was wearing the glasses she wore before she got contacts. She was acting like typical Shayna not paying attention to where she was going. There was a duck or something moving through the parking lot that had fascinated her. As she walked I was scared she was going to step off of the curb into traffic. I could see her getting hit by a car and killed. I just knew that was how she died. Then, I remembered that that wasn’t how she had died and that she was already dead. And, I woke up.

We’ll get to see Kayla a little this Thanksgiving. We’ll head to Kentucky for Thanksgiving Day. Then, we’re off to Columbus on Saturday and she’ll leave from there back to Toledo on Sunday. I’m working on things to be grateful for. I know it won’t be long until she decides to spend Thanksgiving somewhere else. So, I’m grateful for any time with her now.

Tonight, Tywana and I sit down to watch a movie. As usual, she’s not thrilled about any of the movies I want to see (and I tend to want to watch the free ones). She wants to see “Me Before You” a chick flick with Emilia Clark (Daenerys from Game of Thrones). OK… a chick flick it is.  Quick synopsis. It’s a movie about a girl who falls for a guy who is wheelchair bound and them dealing with the fact he is never going to get back to the life he once had.  I hate chick flicks. I really enjoyed this movie, though.

SPOILER ALERT

I am going to reveal the entire plot of the movie. Stop now if you don’t want to know.  I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this movie at all.  I figured I’d spend most of the time it was on checking Facebook.  I was wrong.  

Will Traynor is a rugged, handsome, uber-rich banker in his early 30s.  He’s in the prime of his life, with a gorgeous girlfriend, an amazing job, more money than God, and he travels the world surfing, sailing, climbing, doing all of the amazing things we would do if we had his looks, his money, and his skills.  One day he is struck by a motorcycle and paralyzed from the neck down. He can use his hands just well enough to operate his wheelchair.  That’s it.

Louisa Clark is in her mid-20s. She has never been anywhere or done anything.  She lives in England with her parents and her sister.  Her father is unemployed. So, the family pitches in as much as they can.  One day in her late teens her sister challenges her to find a job within 24 hours. Louisa finds a job at a local cafe.  Six years later, she is still in the same job.  This summarizes Louisa’s sense of adventure.  She has had the same boyfriend for seven years.  She is cute but quirky. She dresses like Sue from The Middle, in bright colors with mixed patterns- very childlike.  She has a sunny disposition. Nothing gets her down.  One day she is laid off from the cafe. So, she is looking for a new job. She applies for the job of Will’s caretaker even though she has absolutely no experience.  No one has been able to hold this job. It pays well.  It’s a six-month contract, but we don’t know why.  She goes for the interview which is a disaster, but she gets the job anyway.

In typical rom-com fashion.  We know Louisa and Will are going to hate each other at first. He is mean to her.  He is mad at the world.  He does not want to live this life. If he’s going to be miserable, he is going to make everyone around him miserable.  He lives at his parents’ estate in a stable that’s been converted into an apartment with everything he can possibly need. Louisa is told quickly that she is not there to attend to his physical needs. There is a trainer/nurse for that. Basically, her job is to keep Will company.

Fast forward and she and Will are growing on each other (wow, didn’t see that coming). One day she overhears his parents arguing.  A letter has come from a hospice in Switzerland where euthanasia is legal.  It’s revealed that Will told them that in six months he was going to end his life.  This is why they hired Louisa, in the hopes a cute perky girl could get him to change his mind. And that is the reason for the six-month contract. He had pushed away his girlfriend at the time of the accident.  She ended up engaged to a good friend of his.

Louisa decides that if she can just show Will enough adventure, he will realize how wonderful life is. She arranges to go to the horse races, concerts and even a trip to Tahiti.  She is loving it. Will is loving it. Then, she tells Will she knows about his plans.  She admits she has been doing all of this to try to convince him to live. She has fallen in love with him and is ready to ditch her fiance for him.  Will explains to her about his life before her.  Thus, the title, “Me Before You”. She didn’t know Will before the accident. His life, as it is now, might seem OK to her, but it’s torture for him. Every day he wakes up and wishes the day was already over.  In his dreams, he is able-bodied again only to wake up trapped in a body he can’t control.  He wants to be able to make love to Louisa, but he cannot. They speak of going to Paris. She says he should take her, but he does not want to go to Paris.  He’s been there.  He has wonderful memories of Paris.  He doesn’t want to ruin those memories by going back in a wheelchair, having to deal with the stares or the lack of attention from the ladies he used to get.  Nothing is the same for him. He just wants it over.  His parents want Will to live. Louisa wants him to live. Everyone is saying any life is better than death, but Will doesn’t agree.

This is the point where we would expect Louisa to talk Will out of going through with his plans and they live happily ever after.  That doesn’t happen.  The six months is up. Will goes to the hospice where he dies surrounded by Louisa and his parents and he leaves her enough money to start a life for herself in Paris.

As I watched the movie, I could so identify with Will. There are things I don’t want to do again, places I don’t want to go because when I was there before things were just so different that being there now is a painful reminder of what I don’t have anymore.  I will never go back to Disney World. It was a magical week for our family the time we went.  I have no desire to go back.  This week is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. This will be our second Thanksgiving where Shayna isn’t eating with us. Last year we stayed home. This year we are going to Tywana’s brother’s house.  Her sister and her boys will be there.  Kayla will be with us. Those kids adored Shayna. Being there without her will be hard for all of us, I’m sure.  I can’t avoid the holidays, but if I could, I’d turn them all off.  They will never be the same.

Will’s body was broken after the accident. His injuries were visible.  Anyone could see that he could not walk or feed himself.  What they couldn’t see was the constant pain he was in.  The trainer at one point is discussing his condition with Louisa.  Will was in the hospital with pneumonia. Louisa asked about Will getting better, as in getting out of the wheelchair.  She thought everyone eventually got better.  The trainer explained there is no coming back from the type of injury Will had. “What about all of that therapy you do with him?” she asked. The therapy was simply to keep his muscles from atrophying, to keep him stable. There was no recovering.  He also explained to her that Will’s life was much tougher than she realized. Because Will liked her, he hid his pain when she was around. She didn’t hear how he sometimes screamed in pain when he knew she couldn’t hear.

This is how grief feels, it’s a permanent injury that there is no coming back from. The therapy I do for myself isn’t about recovering. There is no coming back from the loss of Shayna. The therapy is to keep from getting worse.  My injuries aren’t apparent to the world. For the most part, I keep the pain inside.  But, it’s there.  It’s daily and it’s constant.

I thought the movie made an excellent point about quality of life. Some would say that Will was young and had a lot of life in front of him.  No matter how bad he thought his life was, he should give it a chance. Louisa loved him and even though they couldn’t have had the kind of life he would have chosen, they could have had a “good” life.  But, Will was in and out of the hospital with pneumonia and he knew how much he cherished his life before.  Every day was a mockery of that life to him. He had no chance of recovering and it was likely that pneumonia was going to kill him soon and God only knew how much suffering would be involved. He chose to go out on his terms.  As he was there in hospice, saying his goodbyes and looking out of the window, I could picture his soul flying free, right after he took his last breath.

Here is where my parallel with Will ends. Will didn’t have children or a wife to live for. While Louisa loved him, he had not committed to her.  Will was unencumbered and was able to make a free choice.  I respect his choice.  I am in a completely different situation. I will keep getting up each day, making it the best I can for me and for Tywana and for Kayla.

To the left of the sun, you can see (it doesn’t show up great with the camera) one of the two rainbows (sun dogs) I spotted in the clouds on the way to meet our friends Lynn and Doug. A sun dog is a particular type of rainbow that forms to the left and the right of the sun when the sun is at just the right angle in the sky and ice crystals are present.  Lynn took a picture of the same type of rainbow the day before while she and another friend were remembering a mutual friend.  We didn’t know this until we met them at the restaurant. We were talking about our rainbow to Lynn.  When we showed Lynn our picture, she told us she had taken a similar picture the day before. For some reason, she told us the time she took it 4:41.  I don’t know why she told us the time. Tywana checked the time stamp on our picture, it was exactly 4:41.

Today feels a little better. I am running two marketing efforts in parallel with two different companies.  I’ve been searching for a long time to find a company that can understand our business and take a consulting role. I have hired and fired more companies than I can count.  One of these two companies actually seems to have the service and the technology to understand what I am looking for. The consultant I am working with is bright, energetic, optimistic and responsive.  We have our new product line in. And, finally, after well over a year, we are scheduled to begin the migration to our new e-commerce platform in a couple of weeks. My marketing consultant tells me that getting off of our antiquated platform will make a big difference. And will hopefully translate into some sales. We have the product, we will have the platform, hopefully in the next few weeks. And I’m really hoping to have a marketing company in place that can take us to the next level in the next six to twelve months.

Today, I found a meditation CD that I downloaded and listened to for the first time. It’s one of the best meditations I’ve ever done. I’ve really been struggling with this attitude of gratitude that everything and everyone tells me is the first and most important step to seeking a higher consciousness. I finally heard it phrased in a way that resonates with me, during this meditation. It’s not looking for particular things to be grateful for.  The CD is by Suzanne Giesemann, a medium whose book we have read.  We are going to a conference she is putting on in Florida in February.  The CD is Journey of Remembrance

I found a great movie on ITC (Instrumental Trans Communication) which is using electronic equipment to contact the spirit world.  The movie is “Calling Earth”  As I’m watching the movie, Tywana is on the couch next to me, she is texting Kayla who tells her that both Kayla and Gabe (her boyfriend) have had dreams about Shayna this week.  In Kayla’s dream, as she was waking up, she told Shayna not to leave her and Shayna replied “How many times do I have to tell you that I have never left?”  This, in combination with the meditation this afternoon and the movie I’m watching showing absolutely irrefutable evidence of people coming through, has bolstered my faith and I’m feeling pretty decent this evening.

We’re going to a meeting of Butler County Democrats, a happy hour actually. It’s a beautiful day for mid-November.  Lower 70s and scattered clouds.  As we’re leaving the house, I look to my left and in the wispy clouds is a refraction of light in a rainbow spectrum. It’s not a bow, just a bit of one sitting in the clouds.  I look to the right and I see another one.  I’ve only seen rainbows like this once before in my life.  I point them out to Tywana and she tells me that she has been re-listening to my medium reading with Susanne Wilson and Susanne mentioned that Shayna likes to send rainbows. When I saw this type of rainbow before I looked it up. It’s a fairly rare phenomenon. I ask Tywana to snap some pictures of it.

We get to the meeting and we meet our friends.  Lynn tells us that she was with another friend the day before memorializing a mutual friend that has transitioned.  We talk to Lynn and Doug about this afterlife stuff  and signs all the time. Tywana pulls out her phone to show them the penguin lamp Kayla found while thrift shopping.  Tywana tells her that she and Kayla think the lamp was meant for Kayla to find.  I tell Tywana to show Lynn the rainbow we spotted on the way over.  Lynn pulls out her phone and shows us pictures of the rainbow she took the day before.  Then, for some reason, Lynn says she took the picture at 4:41.  Why she said that I have no idea.  But, my first thought was that we were leaving about 4:30 to get to the happy hour at 5:00. So, our picture was around that time. Tywana looks at the time stamp.  It is exactly 4:41 pm.

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying

It’s been a week and three days since the election of Donald J. Trump.  I have spent many hours talking friends down from ledges. The country is in a turmoil like I cannot recall in my lifetime, at least from the perspective of someone who has so many friends shocked at the outcome of this election. We were told that Trump could not win. America was better than this. Guess what? We aren’t.

I’ve been trying to find the silver lining in this.  Maybe Trump won’t be as bad as we think he’ll be.   Maybe the country needed this wake-up call to remind us that we were not done on our journey forward and that, without vigilance, there are those who would take us back.  Anything. I’m grasping at straws.

Today, I have a friend tell me that I should stop telling people to calm down, that we need to remain up in arms or get up in arms. Well, from my perspective, there’s no lack of people who have been shaken from slumber.  I have friends who haven’t stopped crying, not because our side lost the election, but because the country lost and the 25% of us who voted for Trump don’t even know it.  My friends on the right tell me that I am being bitter, that I need to accept the results of the election and get on board with President Trump.  I need to give him a chance.  I know that when I’m getting criticism from those on the left and those on the right, I’m somewhere close to where I need to be.

Maybe my looking for the silver lining is a coping mechanism.  Well, not maybe, it is a coping mechanism. There is nothing I can do about Trump being President. He’s going to be President for four years. And, should something happen to him- like impeachment or him just quitting, we have Mike Pence to look forward to. There is no escaping this for at least four years.  I say, save your outrage, don’t spend it all at once. There will be plenty to be outraged about in the next almost 1,600 days.

I can’t take on any more pain, sorry, sadness or disappointment right now. I’ll stay engaged. I can’t help that.  That is who I am. But, emotionally, I’ve got to shut it down.  Like the character Pink. in the movie The Wall, I’ve reached my fill.  I have become comfortably numb.

When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons
Now I’ve got that feeling once again
I can’t explain you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy
Oh Divine Master
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
It is in dying that we are born into eternal life- St. Francis of Assisi

I think I’ve posted a blog with this title already.  Probably because I feel pretty much the same every morning.  My first thought is “Do I really have to do this again?” That’s followed by “I’m tired.” Then, it’s “Help me.” to whoever is listening. Then, I’m up at at ‘em again.  I put on my clothes in the dark, head downstairs, check Facebook and I’m out for my five-mile walk.  I see the same people in almost the exact same locations. The lady waiting with her grandkids for the bus, holding her dachshund on a leash, the guy running, the lady walking her three boys to school and the lady putting her little girl on the bus while her son rides his Big Wheel with them to the bus stop.

Then, it’s into the office to see what I can do today to turn things around.  I keep hearing about gratitude and the power of positive thinking and the law of attraction. It’s so frustrating. They tell me if I think negative thoughts, if I think about lack, it’s going to attract lack and keep away prosperity.  So, I keep plugging away trying different things, hoping something is going to work. How are you supposed to think positive thoughts when the last two years have been unimaginably bad?  And it’s not just me. I was watching John Oliver last night.  They did the final show for the year. The sign off was a big “Fuck You” to 2016.  A lot of people are in a funk, particularly after this disaster of an election we just went through.

Here I am again.  Trying to end on an up note. Thanksgiving is coming next week. Kayla will be home for a few days. That breaks up the routine.  For now, it’s back to the grind. I had a call with my new marketing executive today. I can’t even remember how many SEO, marketing, pay-per-click, etc. people I have talked to over the years. She’s an MBA.  She seems bright and energetic and knowledgeable.  She tells me what a great job she thinks her company can do for us. It’s deja vu all over again.  I’ve got to keep trying, though. I’m trying to stay optimistic. I’m giving her free rein to suggest anything she thinks can help- just like I do with all of them.  Maybe this one will be different. Maybe one day soon this Ground Hog Day will be over.