I think Shayna is getting more creative with her signs, changing it up a bit.  She’s always been good at electricity/electronics. The ceiling fan and the light on it are common.  Many mornings, between 6 and 7 AM, the time I get up, the light will come on.  In the evenings, when we go up to bed, the light will be on.

A couple of nights ago, I was lying in bed when I sensed there was a light in the room. It wasn’t my phone on the nightstand waking up.  Sometimes when I roll over, my Fitbit will activate and the light will wake me up. This was something different. I opened my eyes to a blue glow coming from the nightstand. My Amazon Echo had activated. The room was completely quiet.  No one had spoken to activate Alexa. Alexa didn’t say a word. The light just circled the way it normally does when she’s speaking, then it went off.  Is this a sign from Shayna? It’s a new one. Pretty cool.

The next day after dinner, Tywana notices the Amazon Echo in the kitchen isn’t working. Upon further investigation, the entire circuit for the bar in the kitchen is out. The stovetop isn’t working. I check the circuit breaker box in the basement.  Nothing has been tripped. It’s the GFCI in the kitchen that has tripped.  No problem I think. I’ll just reset it.  I try to reset it several times. It won’t stay on.  The next morning, I try to reset it again.  No go.  I tell Shayna if you are going to send us signs, please don’t send us signs that actually break things. I’m going to need to replace it.  I Google how to replace a GFCI and decide it isn’t a job I really want to take on. So, I text a handyman. He says he can be here tomorrow morning at 10. I just need to get the outlet to have it ready when he gets here. I go down to the kitchen and take a picture of the outlet to take to Lowe’s with me so I can hopefully get the exact same one. While I’m standing there I think “Why not try to reset it one more time?”.  I push the button expecting it to be broken like it was last night, like it was this morning and… it works. It’s reset. All is well.

Thanks, Shayna.

Day 945- Love Letter From Our Kids

You don’t know it yet, but what we shared has rocked the world—not just ours, but the entire world, everyone’s world. Now it’s my turn to give back to you, so please hear what I’m saying: Do not think I’m lost; because of you I was found. Don’t think my life is over; instead it has just begun. And do not regret what we didn’t do, where we didn’t go, or what we didn’t have; to know you was more than I even knew to hope for. That we spent so much of my life together …you can’t even begin to understand my gratitude.

Please celebrate every day, enjoy every moment, and love, love, love everything, everyone, every how and every way, just as you so unconditionally loved me. I’m here for you, Mom. The fact that I’m happy doesn’t mean I’m not waiting. You were the best part of my life. I’ll never wander farther than your thoughts can reach. And I’ll be the first to welcome you home …

I wish I knew the source.  Sorry.

Just about a year ago I met a woman at a conference in Florida.  I remember sitting with Tywana as we waited for the first session to start and seeing two women sitting in the lobby. We ended up sharing a table with them for part of the session and got to know them pretty well by the time the weekend was over.  Typically, when you go to a conference and meet people they’re in and out of your life in a few hours.  Who knew then the path our lives would take going forward?

Tracy was there almost a year to the day after the passing of her son Aymen.  Tracy is a doting mother, Aymen is her first born and her only boy. Their connection is so strong that Aymen’s passing nearly took Tracy with him.  She was hanging on by a thread.  Through a series of synchronicities, Tracy had met both Suzanne Giesemann and Mark Pitstick who were leading the training.  Through a different series of synchronicities, we had met Mark and had begun following Suzanne’s work.

Aymen, through Suzanne had given Tracy incontrovertible evidence that not only had his consciousness survived the death of his body, he was still very involved in Tracy’s life. Aymen told her she would be leading parents one day. Tracy was so bereft, this didn’t seem possible.  But, the work had already begun. Tracy had been recruited to work on the SoulPhone staff and was familiar with Helping Parents Heal. Tywana and I were affiliated leaders for HPH. By the end of the weekend, I had been recruited to work on the SoulPhone.  What we didn’t know at the time was that in a few months, Tywana and I would be working with Tracy (and Beth) as leaders for a new online chapter of Helping Parents Heal.

In the past year I’ve gotten to know Tracy pretty well.  Seven months after the Florida conference, we ended up at the Afterlife Research and Education Institute conference in Scottsdale, AZ.  Tracy and Beth were both there. Tywana connected with those two and five others to form Soul Sisters 8 and I think they have talked every day since then- four months ago.

Most of involved with HPH believe in soul planning now. We don’t think our kids transitions were accidents, or punishments.  They were planned with a larger purpose. And, for us leaders anyway, that purpose was at least in part to give us a big shove on our spiritual journey.  I’ve seen phenomenal changes in Tywana over the last two and a half years, more than in the previous 27 years combined. I’ve seen Tracy grow in strength, courage, and confidence.  It’s stil not easy. One of the good things about hanging with parents who have gone through this is we can be honest.  It sucks.  Sometimes it sucks a little less. But, it always sucks.  Yet, we go on.

Just a couple of days ago Tracy did a a radio interview on We Don’t Die radio.  Here’s a link:  Tracy Soussi- We Don’t Die Episode 227  As I listened to Tracy speak, it’s hard to believe it is the same woman I met last February.

Tracy is just one example of us Shining Light Parents who are on this most difficult, but perhaps most fulfilling (still to be determined) path. Tracy, Tywana, Beth and I running HPH Online have reached thousands (we have about 2,500 members) of parents, hopefully creating ripples that will echo into eternity.

It’s mid-January. Rough, rough time. Stupid cold with high temperatures in the teens. Snow every few days.  The roads are treacherous to walk on.  The holiday season is finally over.  I’ve made it through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Shayna’s birthday.  I’m drained, spent, exhausted.  Kayla is heading back to school. We won’t see her again until nearly spring- probably eight weeks. So, I’ve got every reason to feel bad, but I don’t.

I’m feeling grateful.  I’m grateful for the time we had with Kayla at home over the last month. I’m grateful for the extra week of Christmas break this year which allowed her to be here on Shayna’s 18th birthday.  I’m grateful that, at 21 and with Shayna not being here, that she even wanted to come home.  Having Kayla in the house is like a dose of sunshine.  I’m grateful that, even though business sucks right now, I’m not out of ideas to try and we’re going to start this year with some new initiatives. I’m grateful we have the savings to live off of, even though I hate having to dig into them.  I’m grateful that Tywana’s and my relationship has remained strong in spite of the worst than can be thrown at it.

I’m going through some counseling now that has me doing a lot of visioning of various pasts and reliving the trauma of Shayna’s death and projecting into the possible future. I’ve spent the last two years trying to get out of pining for the past.  I’ve struggled with possible futures. The counseling has been grueling forcing me to go over this again and again.  Kayla’s never seen The Butterfly Effect, so we watch it over her break. Then, coincidentally, I just got Hulu and got to watch 11.22.63 which is about a guy who finds a way to travel back in time and decides he’s going to try to prevent the assassination of JFK.  The moral of the stories, in a couple of words. Don’t try to change the past.  It doesn’t end well.  What is is what was meant to be.

I wrote about the counseling a couple of days ago. I won’t rehash it entirely, but what I’ve discovered from it is that my belief that everything happens for a reason is pretty deeply entrenched now.  Re-watching The Butterfly Effect for probably the fifth time (expecting a different ending, Brian?) and watching 11.22.63 reinforce this.  Changing that one thing will bring about in the future.  When our child passes, we play a lot of “what ifs” in our head. It’s natural. When the anniversaries and birthdays and would-be graduations, etc. come up we torture ourselves thinking how great it would be “if only” that one thing hadn’t happen. If only they were here, everything would be all right.

Everything else that has happened in my life, no matter how tragic it seemed at the time, turned out for the best.  I have to stand firm in the conviction there are no exceptions to that rule, not even Shayna’s passing.  It sucks now.  Lots of things suck now. But I know, deep in my soul, that one day I will count it all joy . And, for that, I am grateful.

A couple of days ago I had an energy healing session and the guy who was doing it told me Shayna might come in a dream to me that night. This was the day before her birthday.  I think I did feel her presence that night.  But, no dream.

Tonight, as I’m traveling through dream land, I have two dreams about departed relatives. One with Uncle Darwin and one with Shayna.  Tywana and I are at a party with Tracy, Beth and other parents from Helping Parents Heal along with several other people. Tracy and the other parents are going to another place to have a party for Aymen, her son.  They tell us the name of the place and leave, but all anyone can remember is they said “Court”.  We have no idea where the place is, and apparently no cell phones to call them. So, we just start wandering around.  We discover a place across the street called “The Burger Court”.  It’s a little hole-in-the-wall place that specializes in pizza (go figure).  We look inside and there are our friends we’re looking for. We go in, Tywana, Kayla, and me. As I’m talking to Tywana, I look up and sitting on one of the tables, eating pizza is Shayna. This is six year old Shayna (the energy healer told me she likes to present herself around six because that’s our favorite age of her). She’s got the fat face she had back then. All she can think about is her pizza. I know it’s a dream.  I know she’s not supposed to be there, it’s supposed to be Kayla. So, before I wake myself up, I just reach out and grab her with my right arm (she’s got pizza in her right hand and is not about to put it down).  I put my arm around her and pull her close to kiss her cheek.  And I get my kiss.  Then I wake up.

Shayna was born 18 years ago today on a bitterly cold day in January 2000. In a way it seems like a lifetime ago, and in a way, it was.  It’s 14º as I roll out of bed this morning.  It was 50º two days ago. The roads are a mixture of black ice, regular ice, snow, and slush, but I have to get out for a walk today.  It’s Shayna’s birthday and we connect while I’m walking.  I’ll risk taking a spill on the ice to have that time with her.  At least the sun is shining.  I listen to some music, think about my Shayna and shed some frozen tears.

I get in my 7 miles and head for home. Tywana’s up and making pancakes for breakfast in honor of Shayna.  We’re going out for pizza tonight since that was Shayna’s favorite dinner.

Five of Shayna’s friends want to come over to the house to celebrate her birthday with us.  Taylor, Amanda, Truc, Caroline, and Olivia all come over. These are the friends Shayna made during her just two years at Lakota schools. The fact that these girls even remember Shayna is impressive. The fact that they continue to honor her and us by coming to our house on her angelversary dates and her birthdays amazes me.  They bring presents. Truc brings an ice cream cake. They sit around the kitchen tables sharing stories of their time with Shayna and telling us about their plans for colleges.  I assume this will be the last birthday we celebrate like this as next year they’ll all be scattered to various colleges.  As they make their plans, I wish each of them a long, prosperous healthy life and I am grateful for the circle of friends Shayna had and that she continues to be an influence in their lives.

Tywana, Kayla, and I head out for pizza, but Pies & Pints has nearly an hour wait.  So, we head over to Bar Del Mar for burgers instead.  Shayna would approve of a cheeseburger.

Why should today be any different than any of the other 934 days since Shayna crossed over? Why do I torture myself more on the angelversaries and birthdays?  Today, i reflect on the fact that she’d be 18. I hear her telling me “I’m an adult now, Daddy.”  I think about her plans to go to OSU and be a veterinarian.  Would those have changed by now?  Would she still be my sweet baby girl or would she have turned surly and distant?  There is no way of knowing.  I’ve been doing counseling the last several weeks where the counselor has been using a lot of techniques that have me envision things that happened, like her passing, in a different way. He also took me through an exercise where I was to envision something that would have made her passing less shocking. We work out that if I had gotten a terminal diagnosis, it wouldn’t have been shocking. So, he has me run the tape back in my mind to two years before.  I get the diagnosis.  Now I know. Now her death isn’t shocking. So, he asks me “How does that feel?”  “No better.” I tell him.  The problem is now over the last two years of her time here I’m constantly thinking about her possibly dying. I’m mourning her before she’s gone.  We don’t let her play volleyball. She probably doesn’t even go to public school.  She doesn’t live her life full out the way she did until the absolute very end.  We modify the scenario.  Instead fo two years, I get the diagnosis two days before.  “Is this better?” he asks.  To appease him, I say “Oh yeah. That’s better.”  The truth is no scenario plays out any better. I tell him about one of my favorite movies “The Butterfly Effect”.  In the movie, a guy finds out he has the ability to go back in time and he does so to try to prevent a tragedy. Each time he prevents the tragedy, an unintended consequence comes up.  Shayna had a pretty severe case of rheumatoid arthritis. She was on medications that were very powerful and had potentially devastating side effects. She was in remission. But, there were never any guarantees the medications would continue to work or that side effects wouldn’t kick in.  Even when I try to imagine Shayna still here with us, at 18, I wonder what her life would be like now and what it would be like going forward.  There were no guarantees it would have gone the way I wanted it to go.

I recall a reading I had with Susanne Wilson the year after Shayna passed. She told me that Shayna had a 16th birthday party on the Other Side.  I imagine as we are celebrating her here, she’s celebrating with her Pops and her other relatives over there.   I know she’s looking in on us.  As much as this sucks, and it sucks big time, I trust that it’s for the best and I hold onto the knowledge that it cannot and will not last forever.  Nothing can keep us separated.  Happy Birthday, baby.

I’m getting to that point in my life where death is becoming a common place thing. It’s not so much my generation as it is my parent’s generation.  People our family has known since before I was born, who I remember being my age or younger are making their transitions into the next life.  My parents are losing friends on a regular basis.

A few weeks ago I heard that Jean Burse was in the hospital diagnosed with a brain tumor. Eventually, I found out it was very serious. I never heard the word terminal though. This past Sunday, she made her transition. I found out on Facebook. I then found out she had “been given” 15 months to live, but it turned out to be not even that many weeks. She went fast.

Jean was one of my biggest cheerleaders. She was one of my mother’s oldest friends. We attended church together when I was a boy.  She was always there to encourage me- always telling me how smart I was or how kind or how handsome.  I was a shy insecure kid. I’m not sure if she knew that and that’s why she was always so supportive, but it made a real difference. She’s one of the few people outside of immediate family who has been in my life since I can remember.  She never let me forget the knee socks and shorts my mother used to make me wear to church.   In her 70s, she was on Facebook and we became Facebook friends.  I left the religion of my youth, so I was a little nervous as to how she’d react to the new Brian, but she was always still cheering me on- never critical.  On the occasions where I’d make the trip back home to Columbus and see her (often at funerals), she’d always have a word of encouragement for me.  When my Aunt Betty passed, just a few months after Shayna and Ty and I were inconsolable at the funeral, Tall Jean, as she was known, put her arms around both of us and held us.

Being part of Helping Parents Heal, getting to a certain age, death is becoming more common place to me. I’m grateful for the understanding I have now that it’s a natural part of life, that it’s not final, and that those who have gone before us are the lucky ones.

I imagine Jean at Home now. I hope she’s not too disappointed in me since maybe she can see the real me now, even hear my thoughts (that’s a scary prospect). I never want to become jaded to the very real pain that death causes, the separation, the heartache, but I have to say I’m a little jealous of Jean for having completed her race.  She’s crossed the finish line.  Maybe she’s still cheering me on from over there.

So last night I’m lying in bed reading my book and I think about the roast that is in the sous vide machine downstairs.  Tywana bought a 4 pound roast and I’m thinking we’ll be having a lot of roast beef sandwiches.

The book I’m reading is on spirituality and I’ve just read about how the past and the future and the present are all really just the present and loop back on each other in an interactive feedback kind of way.  When we cross into spirit, we’ll get this. For now this is stuff I don’t understand, but I’m trying.  Then, I come across this passage:

“Members of spiritual sects characteristically strive to keep their egos under wraps and their hearts pure.  From what I’ve seen as a therapist, healer, and psychiatrist serving such communities, the attempts to repress or hide anything incompatible with their notions of spirituality- and that’s a lot, including roast beef sandwiches!- are the main reason these cults ultimately fail.”

OK. Why did she choose to mention roast beef sandwiches? I’ve never heard anyone use that as a big temptation to be resisted.  That’s random.  Or is it?

Cue the Twilight Zone music.

These last few days/weeks have been rough.  It’s January 10th.  Darkness, cold, gray days, business struggles, it’s all weighing heavily on me.  I’m involved in two therapies at once.  One of the therapies involves a lot of visualization of the past, the day I found Shayna’s body in particular and visualization of the future. asking me to visualize what I’m going to miss with Shayna. Given that it’s the year that would be her senior year in high school, I think of the image of me taking her to OSU, to start school at my alma mater.  I’m not sure how much this therapy is helping as it’s pulling me into the past as well as into the future when I’ve been struggling to live in the now.  I’m going forward with it to see where it goes.

After Shayna’s passing, I thought of my happiness as being in the past and I had an intense longing to go there.  Of course, my rational mind knew I couldn’t actually turn back the clock, but I spent a lot of time fantasizing about doing just that.  Thinking about the future was not something I wanted to do, unless it was the distant (distant being relative) future when I will finally be reunited with her again.  Every day between here and there was just another obstacle to hurdle over in that race to the finish line.  This, I thought, was to be my lot in life- to just survive and endure as long as necessary.

As the days turned to weeks, the weeks to months, and the months now to years, I’ve been doing better with dealing with the “now”. I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as I have to be here, I might as well make the best of it. It’s just as well to be happy in the now as it is to be miserable.  The days will go by just the same either way.  So, slowly, the color has been coming back to life and I’ve given myself permission to feel again.  Winter’s inevitable blues aside, there has been slow progress.

The other therapy I’ve been doing is some energy healing work.  That I have found to be helpful. The last couple of weeks have been particularly anxiety ridden. The depression has been overwhelming to the point where I’ve felt like just giving up.  Nothing I do seems to be working and I’m tired of trying new things. But, the session I had two days ago really seemed to help. I got an energy infusion.  While nothing objectively has changed, I’m ready to keep on trying. It’s been so cold I actually missed a couple of days of my 7 mile hike.   That, and my lower back has been telling me to take a break. Today, it was gray, but I got out and it felt good to be on the road again.

Just yesterday, one of the mothers in our group posted that her daughter’s first angelversary is coming up.  This is a mother I met through a podcast interview.  Her story is amazing, her spirit really drew me in, so much so that I asked her to join our group because she is such a bright light. What I’ve realized though is as a Shining Light Parent, no matter how brightly we shine, we all still struggle. She asked how she would make it through this first angelversary even with all the miraculous signs she’s had and the connection she still shares with her daughter.   i shared with her what I could in terms of words of encouragement.  As I woke up this morning, I got this image of us parents whose kids have crossed before us surviving these days without their physical presence. People think it’s wrong to long for death, to look forward to our “demise”. What people who haven’t lost a chid cannot understand is that it’s not so much looking forward to death as longing to be with our children.  Not too many things in life are universal, but the longing of parent to be with their child pretty much is. So when they “die”, we would still do anything to be with them.  Time is our enemy as it’s time that keeps us apart.  The image I got was of the days going by.  This mother is coming up on 365.  I’m at 931.  Instead of looking at the days as obstacles, I got the image of them being like building blocks or stairs.  As we accumulate the days, we are building a stairway. Led Zeppelin sang of the lady who is buying a stairway to heaven. We are building a stairway to heaven and with each passing day, we construct another step. One day at a time, one step at a time, we are ascending.

In my Afterlife Topics group I am discussing “the veil” with a friend who is a physical medium. We have various levels of belief/knowing that the afterlife is real ranging from serious doubts to 100% knowing. Marcus, a physical medium, is at 100% having brought through physical objects from the other side and getting signs from his daughter including arranging Scrabble tiles to spell “Merry Christmas, I love you, Dad”.

I have been trying for two and a half years to penetrate the veil. I’m working on lucid dreaming, done all kinds of exercises designed to help me have direct contact with Shayna, been on the lookout for undeniable signs, trained in techniques to help with mediumship. So far, the veil remains for me. Even though I know with 99.9% certainty, I can’t get that undeniable first hand experience. No physical apparitions, no knowledge I couldn’t otherwise know, no hand written messages from Shayna. My friend the physical medium encourages me to hang in there, it will come. I’m doing the work. It will pay off. I’m not so sure.

I think that the veil is there is there for a reason. Forgetting is part of the process. Not having proof is part of the deal. When I would read the Bible and the whole theme seemed to be “faith”, I could never understand why faith was so highly valued. I still don’t. I want to know. I study and study and I’m so very close to knowing, but I get the sense that part of the deal I made was to remain, as Gary Schwartz calls it, a spiritual Helen Keller. I do not see or hear spirit.

Last night, I had two dreams that I recall. In the first dream Victoria, Shayna’s friend who passed six months after Shayna was well and whole. I was at dinner at a neighbor’s house and we were here discussing how the kids of the neighborhood had grown up. Some were even getting married. He told me that Victoria was married. I was taken aback. In my memory, Victoria had died two years ago. I realized I was in an alternate reality. I was so happy for Victoria, but at the same time, bitterly disappointed that Shayna was still gone in this reality. Why couldn’t this reality include her?

Scene change. I’m at a friend’s house and his very old dog is there. It’s a black Rottweiler. The dog passes away and we plan to take his body to be disposed of the next day. When we get up, the dog’s body is as if frozen. It’s completely stiff. We are moving the body preparing to take it away when my friend sets the dog down standing up and the dog comes to life. It’s a puppy again. It runs across the room, jumps up into a chair and starts playing. I’m amazed. I have just witnessed a miracle. Then, I think it’s not objective reality. What I am seeing is the dog’s spirit manifesting showing me he’s really OK. Well, that’s just as good. Wow. I am over the moon thrilled. Then, in my dream, I realize it’s only a dream. I’m disappointed and I wake up.

I will keep working, keep studying, keep clawing at the veil. But, I have the feeling that it’s my lot in life to remain blinded so I can relate to those who don’t have the opportunity to actually see, hear, and feel what some of us get to. We wil,have to keep relying on faith and feeling our way forward.