A couple of days ago I get a call from a loved one.  People are worried about me.  It’s been nearly three years since Shayna passed.  Am I any better?  “How is Brian doing?” people ask.  “When will he get over this?”  The answer is one they don’t want to hear. So, when asked that question, depending on the person, the day, my mood, our relationship, they’ll get different answers. But, the honest truth is my life will never be the same.  Never.  When you have a child go Home before you, you don’t get “better” in three days, three months, three years, or three decades.

For us Shining Light Parents, every day is a fight for survival.  A parent recently asked, in our group of over 2,500 parents, if anyone else feels this way and the answers, while varied and with many nuances, was a resounding yes. Some of us struggle more than others. Some are better at putting on a brave face than others.   Some have learned to embrace the joy of life even in the midst of the pain, but the longing for our child never diminishes and being without them is never easy.

The problem is when we tell those on the outside how we feel, they either intentionally or unintentionally make us feel guilty.  They want us to be better. They take our struggle personally.  They ask “Am I not enough to make you want to stay here?”  Our spouses, our other children, our parents, our friends. They all want to be enough for us, as if it’s a contest, an A or B choice. We should be happy being with them as opposed to being with our children.  “Would you rather be with me or with your child?”  I choose both. . Give me option C

But, we can’t choose both. We have to learn to have a  new relationship with our child now in spirit.  We have to learn to live without their hugs, seeing them hit their milestones, without their smiles. We have to tune into that next world to get there. None of this is easy. It’s hard, grueling, exhausting work.  It’s like swimming upstream every single day.  And then, as we get tuned in, we are reminded of Home. We begin to awaken from the slumber of this world. We remember how wonderful it is back there.  And, you know what? We get homesick.

Back when I was a Christian, there was something I never understood. If Christians really believe Heaven is so great, so wonderful, how come no one wants to go there?  All you have to do is die. But, no one wanted to die. They all want to live as long as possible.  As a society, we spend thousands of dollars on end of life care, keeping hollowed out shells alive in hospital beds to take a few more breaths because anything, anything is better than “death”.  We mourn at the funerals of people in their 90s.  I heard this morning that Billy Graham has made his transition and people are sad.  Really?  You’re sad. Billy was 99.  I say “Well done, Billy. Good for you!” and I say “Dear Lord, don’t make me stay here for 40 more years.”

But, it’s morose to long for Home.  It’s wrong to long for death because death is the end. Death is an enemy to be overcome. That’s what the world tells us.  Well, once you wake up from the illusion of this world, which a child in the next world will do to you, you realize death is not the end, but the beginning.  Death is not the enemy, not something to be feared. To die is to go Home.

So, we live here stuck between two worlds. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to leave my wife or Kayla or my parents, or my friends.  I had a dream the other night in which I was in a group being attacked. Armed men stormed into the room and shot the man next to me.  I feared for my life. An elder who was in the room shouted out “This is your chance. This is your escape. Step forward and free yourself from this world. Do it now. They are only taking two.”  But, I didn’t. I ran away. I had the choice and I chose to stay.  The survival instinct is strong. My commitment to my mission is strong.  I don’t want to put others through mourning for me, right now. But… I know this isn’t forever.  And for that, I am grateful.  I count off the days. Today is day 973.  973 less than whatever the number is.  I make the most of each day I have here. I do my absolute best to be the best I can be. And I know that in a “little while”, we’ll all be back Home together.

This morning on my walk I’m listening to my friend Roberta Grimes muse about reincarnation.  Reincarnation, keeps coming up again and again.  For those of us raised Christian, it was taboo. Eastern religions beliefs on reincarnation make it sound more like punishment than anything else. This life is where we come to work off karma, mistakes from our past. We are forced to come back again and again, maybe thousands or even millions or billions of times until we “get it right”.  Man, when I was a kid, I thought Hell was scary.  How about an almost never ending cycle of coming back to Earth? Something’s wrong with this picture. The image of going Home that comes to mind is of the schoolmaster in the Pink Floyd movie The Wall- In Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2, he shouts “Wrong! Do it again!  Wrong.  Do it again!”  Is this what we have to look forward to?  “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding?  How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?” Sorry, lady.  You can’t stay here until you get it right.

I watched Astral City (Nosso Lar) a couple of years ago and there is a scene where loved ones are watching people board a vehicle bound for Earth.  There are tearful good-byes as they depart for the Earth plane to make another stab at it. So, we get back Home, settle in, then one day they come knocking at the door. “Time to go back. Better luck this time.  Maybe this will be your last trip.  Try harder.”

I think Roberta was onto something when she talked about the fact that time is an illusion.  Einstein told us this and physicists are verifying it.  Past, present, and future are constructs that are necessary for this Earthly incarnation. We think of time beginning with the Big Bang and moving in a linear, constant fashion indefinitely into the future. In reality, from outside of this universe, all of time is “happening at once”.  I realize the futility of using temporal words to describe things that are non-temporal, but time is such a big part of our reality, we can’t get away from it.  If it’s not happening in a  linear fashion, maybe it’s all happening “at once”.  Even as Roberta was explaining that the present impacts not only the future but the past and that our many lives are all taking place at once, each influencing the other, she kept drifting back into talking about past lives, saying that we can make this our last life, and that her guide had advanced through his lives to the point that he doesn’t have to reincarnate anymore, implying he got better with each life in a linear fashion.  How is this possible when the “future” lives are lived at the same time as the past?  We talk a lot about past life regressions because we think linearly.  Rarely, will you hear about future life progressions, which actually are a thing.  Why? Because we still think of our lives, if we have many, as laid out in a linear fashion.

My thoughts on this are ever-changing and I’m sure will be because, like every other being on this planet, I cannot wrap my head around an existence without time.  I cannot fathom everything happening “at once”. I don’t know how the present could possibly change the past.  But, what I can do is eliminate things from my model.  I don’t think we go back Home, only to be tapped on the shoulder one day and told to do it again. I think this is our “last time” here for all  of us. We come once and that’s it. As Scott Milligan said, this Earth is a place of goodbyes- we watch people leave.  Our Home is a place of hellos, we greet people as they arrive. They do not depart again.  No one will force us into a do over.

I love my dream world where physics doesn’t exist as we know it here. As I’m on a cross country bike ride, I invent a new way to cut through head winds by laying out on my side and kind of side stroking the way you would in a swimming pool. The bike actually disappears and it’s more like swimming through air than biking, but it works in my imaginary world.

After the bike ride, I’m walking along talking with my friend Robert. We’re talking about our kids and he’s telling me his daughter is 5′10″ which he thinks is really tall.  I tell him my daughter, the volleyball player, was 5′10″ when she was 15.  Just then I hear Shayna behind me saying “Oh.  Me.  You’re talking about me.”  She’s thrilled that I’m talking about her.  I turn around to see her jumping up and down with a huge smile on her face, happy that she’s being acknowledged.   I say “Yes, Shayna.  I’m talking about you.”  Robert turns to see who I’m talking to and sees no one there. I say “Oh, you can’t see her because she passed away a few years ago. She’s dead.” Robert tells me that there is no death. That death is just an illusion and, of course, she is still right here.  He goes on, but I can’t remember all he said, just the feeling I got knowing that he was right and that there is no separation even though it sometimes seems like it.  I wake up in tears. I’m not sure if they’re tears of joy or of sorrow. But, I cherish the knowledge that even the apparent separation is not forever and I’m one day closer.

When it comes to intuition, I’m about as left brained as they come.  I’ve been exploring spirituality, mediumship, ESP, intuition, all that woo woo stuff for a few years, but I have no ability. I’ve sat in workshops. I’ve tried Facilitated After Death Communications (FADC), and been told I would be able to connect all to no avail. As Gary Schwartz has said of himself, I am the Helen Keller of the spirit world.  I don’t see or hear spirit.  When I do have a “feeling” I write it off as imagination.

So, today when I had the opportunity to sit in on a communication with spirit class, I thought I’d just hang in the background because I never get anything in these things. I figured it’d be a large group and I could just blend in.  Oops.  There were only 9 of us on the call. We had an introduction, did a couple of exercises, then the medium put up a picture of the child of one of the women in the group (again, there were 8 women and me on the call).  We were supposed to invite his spirit in and she was going to guide us through what we could get from him.  He was 16 when he passed which was pretty easy to guess from the picture we were shown. I guessed his personality as being a “jokester” (that is the word that came to me).  When told to imagine what one word he would write on an imaginary chalkboard, I came up with “Mom”.  No one dies alone.  So, we were asked to imagine who met him on the other side. I got one word “grandmother”.  When told to imagine what song he would give us, I came up with Lovely Face by Julia Fordham. And, lastly, when told he was now handing us a gift bag, with a gift for his mother and we were to open the bag and take out the gift, I got a yellow rose.

Now, it was time for the reveal.  Nearly everyone in the group described him as outgoing and friendly.  A couple of people got that he was meticulous about his appearance. Tywana got “Sharp Dressed Man” for her song.  All of these were validated by his mother and the consistency of the message was amazing.  Several people thought he was met by a grandmother, a pretty easy guess, but his mother looked pretty young and he was only a teenager. It was quite possible he didn’t have a grandmother in spirit.  Which is what I thought when grandmother came to me.  It was odd how many of us (including the professional medium) got grandmother.  He does have a biological grandmother in spirit and the mother of his step-father who raised him. He had never met either of them in life, but that doesn’t matter. They knew him.  He probably was met by a grandmother.

His mother confirmed his personality as being meticulous, friendly, and a sharp dresser.  One person got Massachusetts. She could not think of a connection to Massachusetts.  He was a mama’s boy, which might be why I got Mom as my one word. But, that’s a pretty easy guess for a teenage boy and his mother. I’m not impressed with getting “Mom”.

When it came time to reveal our songs, I didn’t want to share mine because first of all no teenage boy would know a Julia Fordham song and the only line that came to me was from the chorus.  I looked up the lyrics because I knew no one would know the song. I read them to the group

I’m standing in my kitchen, I’m driving in my car
Lying on my bed in my room wondering where you are
I keep meaning to call you, but I never find the time
Doesn’t mean to say that you’re not weaving through my mind!
What I wouldn’t do right now to see your lovely face
What I wouldn’t do right now to see your lovely face
What I wouldn’t do right now to fill in all this space
That I’ve gone and built just for myself

Sitting in this restaurant, I’m running ‘round some park
Swimming in some clear blue water wondering where you are
I keep meaning to tell you that things aren’t what they seem
Doesn’t mean that you’re not weaving through my dreams!
What I wouldn’t do, what I wouldn’t do
What I wouldn’t do right now to see your lovely face…

Maybe that had some meaning for her. I think it did.  This was the first thing I actually revealed to the group.  I hate being wrong. “Can’t be wrong with a song.” I thought.  But, when she was asked about Massachusetts, she said they didn’t have a connection to Massachusetts. She lives in Texas.  Ah ha! I thought.  Maybe I did get something right.  The Yellow Rose of Texas. I got a yellow rose. When I looked in the bag (in my mind) and saw a yellow rose, I thought “OK.  Maybe a rose. But why a yellow rose?  Who gives yellow roses?” Bingo.  Yellow Rose of Texas. So, I spoke up. I said “You said you live in Texas.  I got a yellow rose.”  She then said that he husband had given her a yellow rose a few days ago.  She had been driving around with it on the dashboard. She had just thrown it out yesterday.  “Oh wait.” she said “It hasn’t made it out of the car.” She was doing the meeting from in her car because she was actually working at the time. She reached into the bag and pulled out… a yellow rose.

The wild thing is that she thought that this was going to be something she could just listen to. She didn’t realize she was going to be asked to do exercises that required concentration/relaxation. I think Alyson chose her son’s picture since she couldn’t actually do the exercises very well because she kept getting phone calls and the crew she was supervising was right outside of her car. It’s a good thing she stuck with it because she got some amazing validations from eight strangers that her son is still right here.

And, maybe I have more of a spark of intuition than I know.

I’m walking through an amusement park and I look up and I see Shayna. She’s about 8 years old. I can’t believe my eyes. She’s right here.  I look around to see if I’m dreaming or this is real. I can feel the ground beneath my feet.  I can feel the sunshine and the air on my skin. I’m convinced it’s real. I reach out to Shayna but she pulls away. She says that this can’t be real, that we aren’t really together again. I tell her it is. She says the dentist (I don’t know why she said dentist) had said that she wasn’t going to die. So, she’s scared that if we accept being together again, she’ll be taken away from me.  I think that maybe she’s right, but I tell her it’s OK.This time we’ll really be together. I reach out to touch her. She pulls away and kind of kneels down, not wanting me to touch her, scared that it’s not real. I put my hand on her back and I feel her start to fade away until she’s gone. I wake up, covered in goosebumps.

The scene shifts. I’m outdoors and some people are having a beach volleyball pick up game. They ask me if I want to play. Sure, I say and start to take off my shoes to get ready.  Someone asks me how old I am. Without hesitation or thinking I say “I’m 31″.  I have no idea why.

This is a guest entry from Tywana.

Suzanne Giesemann started her Unity.fm radio show on 2/1/18.  I listened.  Told the Soul Sistas (my group of 7 Shining Star daily texting friends) that I feel as though I have come full circle since I found Unity a couple of months after Shayna transitioned.

I felt I wanted to tell Suzanne that also so I sent her a quick text about coming full circle and how happy I was that she was on the radio and helping others. I met Suzanne a year ago this month and spent time with her in September.  She did a reading for us almost a year ago now.  Suzanne texted back to say thanks and that she felt Shayna was showing her a special head band that Kayla or I wears.  I tell her yes that Kayla wears one of Shayna’s favorite ones.  It was Shayna’s special headband from Lululemon.  It was too expensive for me, but got Shayna one anyway.  Suzanne says she has a reading now but she is sending a hug from Shayna via her and that she felt Shayna, and she is so full of love for Brian, Kayla and I.

Then my cell rings.  It’s Suzanne.  My first thought is this is a butt dial because she said she had a reading.  But it’s  not a butt dial.  She says Shayna said “Call my Mom. She has a question for you.”    Suzanne asks “What is the question?”  I say well I don’t really have one but I had just finished meditating and was wondering, like I always do, if Shayna was there while I meditated.  Suzanne says hold on…..Shayna is showing me Mala beads.  I said well two days ago I picked up my mala beads and used them during meditation.  They have been untouched for months in my meditation room.  I also told her that here at my desk in the basement I brought down the book that my friend gave me when she gave me the male beads. That was just a couple of days ago.  I told her the title—Beads of Faith.  Suzanne says the title holds great meaning because Shayna wants you to have faith that she really is with you.  Shayna also told her that she and Grace (Heidi’s daughter) and Carly (Irene’s daughter) and others will be helping Suzanne with the reading with Joe on Sunday ( Joe is a guy on our facebook page that is having a hard time).  That is why they are also close to Suzanne right now and why I felt the need to text her about her show.  Suzanne also said Shayna feels she is settling in and feeling good where she is.  Shayna also feels older and more mature. I told Suzanne the girls always teased me about being a baby soul.  Shayna said we are older than we can imagine.    It  is ONE big web according to Suzanne.  I am blown away and crying so many happy tears right now.    #STILLRIGHTHERE all our kids.

footnote from Brian- Suzanne is an evidential medium. While she could have just said Shayna is here and says “Blah…blah…blah..”, Suzanne always asks the spirits for evidence that it’s them. In this case Shayna told her about the mala beads which Tywana hadn’t used until recently which tied in with the book she had moved from our bedroom to the basement in recent days.  This is evidence not only that Suzanne was actually in touch with Shayna but that Shayna knows what is going on in our lives.

My nomination for foreign language  film of the year goes to A Man Called Ove (pronounced oo-vuh). The film could be subtitled “Surprised by Joy”.  In the first few frames I immediately connected with the cantankerous, gruff Ove, a man of few words and even fewer smiles.  Ove is a widower whose best days are behind him. As he says in the movie, life began when Sonja came in and ended when Sonja left.  All Ove is looking forward to is the time when he can be with Sonja again. I think anyone who has had a child transition can related to Ove.  I don’t know of a Shining Light Parent who hasn’t felt like Ove at least on a few days.

All Ove wants is to be left alone until the time he can finally go be with Sonja, but the universe has other plans.  As I’ve been going through this grief journey, counselors and mediums have been telling me I’d find joy again some day.  It’s something I could not even conceive of.  One counselor told me to picture a joyous time with Shayna and then try to project that feeling into the future and think of possibilities that could bring that joy to me again. That, for me, was an exercise in futility.  Nothing can replace that.  People say to us things like “Well, you have other children.” or “You have a wife.”  My response is this.  Come into the kitchen and lay your hand on the counter. I’ll take this carving knife. Which of your arms would you like me to remove?  You have another arm.  How about just a hand?  Maybe a finger.  You have nine more.   Children aren’t replaceable or interchangeable parts. Having other children, other people in your life doesn’t mean we won’t always, always, always miss the one who has crossed over.

Ove is a man who believes there are two ways to do everything. There is your way and the right way.  He doesn’t suffer fools gladly.  In spite of wanting to be left alone, he can’t abide the sloppiness and laziness of his neighbors and eventually gets sucked into interacting with them more than he would care to. And, that’s when the universe springs it on him.  Ove, after Sonja’s departure, discovers joy again.  In ways totally unpredictable and unexpected to Ove, he finds genuine joy like he hasn’t known since he was a child.  Ove is happy, smiling, and laughing like he never thought he could.

I watch a lot of movies and one thing that occurred on me the other day is that no movie, no story has a truly happy ending.The hero usually survives.  The hero defeats the bad guy, gets the girl, finds the treasure and lives “happily ever after”.  The lights come up and we leave the theater.  But as Ove points out, “No one gets out of here alive.” The ending of all our stories is the same. Continue that story long enough and the hero always dies. We are mortals and while the timing and method of the end of the physical bodies are variable, one thing that is universal is they cease to function. Spoiler alert- Ove dies.  Is this a sad ending? I mean, after all this, Ove finally finds joy and then he dies. It is absolutely not a sad ending. While death is the end of one story for Ove, he’s reunited with Sonja and off to a new beginning of another.  Bon voyage.