I look for signs on my morning walks. Is this a sign? My friend Joe pointed out it looks like a four leaf clover in the upper left of the picture. I didn’t notice it when I snapped the photo.


It’s my birthday weekend. My birthday is always right around Memorial Day weekend. This year it’s on the Saturday.  I wonder if Shayna will show up with any signs. Tywana and I are standing in the kitchen on Sunday when the bluetooth speaker on the kitchen counter just starts playing music. I use the speaker with my Amazon Echo, but the Echo hasn’t been playing through this speaker in at least a week.  I have no idea why it’s playing or what it’s playing. I say “Alexa turn off bluetooth” and Alexa says “Hmmm…. there’s no bluetooth device to disconnect…”  So, it’s not coming through the Alexa.  My phone is in my pocket.  It’s at least a couple of steps to connect it to the bluetooth speaker and I haven’t even touched it. I walk over to the speaker and manually turn it off.  That’s weird.  A few days ago I was on a conference call in my office and heard faint music coming from upstairs. It’s not unusual that my phone will randomly connect to the speaker in our master bathroom. So, I assume the music is coming from that speaker.  But, I haven’t been playing music on my phone which is laying on my desk. When I finish the call and go upstairs, I find the Alexa in the bedroom, not the speaker in the bathroom, is playing some random music.  It’s not connected to my phone.  No one has been up there to give Alexa a command to play music. Tywana’s not even home.  I say “Alexa stop the music” and she dutifully does.  Is Shayna learning new skills?  Is she learning to turn on and off the speakers?

On Monday, we’re heading to Columbus to Brianna’s graduation party. I really, really don’t want to go. I’m not keen on parties anyway and graduation parties, especially this year, are to be avoided. But, Kayla is coming down from Toledo and Tywana wants to go. A couple of days ago I re-listeneed to the reading Thomas John gave me back in March and he asked me if a graduation was coming up. I told him this would be Shayna’s senior year so a lot of graduation festivities are coming up. He says I’m thinking about going. I tell him I’m actually thinking about not going. He tells me that Shayna says I should go.  This was two months ago.    He says, maybe not go to all of the activities, but participate in some way. These are almost the exact same words my brother, Brianna’s father, texted to me late last week when he asked me if I’m planning to attend the graduation on Saturday or the party on Monday.  Damn! I guess I have to go.

When I step out of the bedroom on Monday morning, I look down and there is a quarter laying in the hallway just outside our bedroom door.  I think back to the night before.  We didn’t go out on Sunday. So, I didn’t get change anywhere. I rarely have change in my pocket.  I didn’t have any on Sunday.  I’m sure of that. I know that quarter wasn’t laying there when we went to bed. One of us would have noticed it.  I pick it up and look at it. I say to Shayna “You know our sign is dimes.” I wonder if this is a sign.  There is a change jar we keep right next to the bedroom.  But, how did the quarter get here, since we went to bed?   I lay the quarter back down for Tywana to find when she gets up.  On my walk, I’m listening to Suzanne Giesemann and Susanne Wilson on a podcast where they are discussing synchronicities and how we tend to minimize them.  I think back to some of the signs Shayna has given me. I  say to Shayna “Maybe you gave me a quarter because you wanted to go big for my birthday weekend. Thank you, sweetie.”  Later in the car when I discuss the quarter with Tywana, after we both confirm there is no way that quarter was there the night before, she asks me if I checked the date on the quarter. I never thought to.  She tells me it was 2015, the year Shayna crossed into spirit.  All right! I’m going to the party

 

Why be afraid if I’m not alone
Though life is never easy the rest is unknown
Up to now for me it’s been hands against stone
Spent each and every moment
Searching for what to believe

Coming out of the dark, I finally see the light now
It’s shining on me
Coming out of the dark I know the love that saved me
You’re sharing with me

Starting again is part of the plan
And I’ll be so much stronger holding your hand
Step by step I’ll make it through I know I can
It may not make it easier but I have felt you
Near all the way

Coming out of the dark, I finally see the light now
And it’s shining on me (I see the light, I see the light)
See the light (I see the light)
Coming out of the dark I know the love that saved me
You’re sharing with me

Slowly, imperceptibly, I’ve seen the light coming. Like the sun at sunrise, it’s not a moment, it’s more of a process. Today is my third birthday since Shayna passed.  In just one month it’ll be three years.Somewhere along the way the darkness that seemed impenetrable and permanent has started to subside. My mood has started to shift. Today, I will spend a good part of the day in solitude. It’s graduation time. It’s Memorial Day weekend. Tywana is going to Lexington for her cousin Mike’s funeral. Today is Brianna’s graduation. Brianna is Shayna’s twin born from another mother (technically cousin), born four months after Shayna, the two of them were inseparable.This would be Shayna’s graduation year. My birth family will be at her graduation in Columbus. I’ll spend the day reflecting on the journey over the last 57 years.There was a time when being alone would have been depressing, but this is my choice; as is all of this. So, I’ll embrace it.

As I see the dark lifting and the light approaching to what can I attribute this? Is it the old adage “Time heals all wounds.”? Certainly not.Time alone heals nothing. I think it’s the hard work I’ve put in and continue to put in.It’s the realization that Shayna has never left me. I feel her with me more and more. She’s been giving me this message to write for the last several days. She’s right over my shoulder as I type this and the tears flow while I listen to Gloria Estefan sing “Coming Out Of The Dark”.  I hear her cheering me on. I get her signs. She comes to me in dreams. She sends messages to me through mediums. Knowing she is still with me makes it bearable. I have felt her near all the way. It’s the knowing that this is all temporary. It’s an illusion. Where it counts we are still together. I have internalized this message. I study it.I meditate on it, daily.

Is it over? Has the grief passed? No. It’s a daily struggle. Jesus said “Take up your cross daily and follow me.”Daily. I wake up and the human part of me longs for comfort, longs for security, longs for the life I once had. The human part of me just wants to go Home. Anxiety still grips me.Depression still makes a guest appearance. But, I have to rise above that and look at it from my soul’s perspective which says it’s all going according to plan. I look at Shayna’s picture every morning as I come down the stairs, look at that sweet cheek, that beautiful smile, and I long for the day when I can kiss her cheeks again and hug her.But, I know that day is coming and I celebrate as I pass each milestone. I make my way down the stairs, lace up my shoes and set out.

Today is another milestone. I celebrate it. I’ve made it. No matter what happens from here on out, I have made it. I hereby declare victory. I take a moment to pat myself on my back. The dawn is breaking. Many of us Shining Light Parents dread these days, birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings. Not me. I look at it this way. I’m running a marathon and these days are mile markers. When you’re running a race and you pass a mile marker do you mourn the miles that are behind you? No. You say “Only a few more miles to go. One step at time.” And you keep moving. And, you know that you will cross that line and then you’ll party. Happy Birthday to me. 57 trips around the sun accomplished. I wonder what year 58 has in store.

 

An analogy that is often used to indicate how we are all one is “We are drops of water in the ocean”. Or some say that while we are in the body, we are drops of water who have leapt front the ocean and when we “die”, we return to the ocean.  One of my favorite Rumi sayings is “You are not a drop in the ocean.  You are the ocean in a drop.”  But, this analogy always falls a bit short for me because when we return to the ocean, we lose our individuality.  A drop is not a drop when it’s in the ocean.

A friend of mine said the other day a better analogy is we are like trees in the forest, which reminded me of the aspen tree.  Aspen trees grow in colonies.  Most aspens grow in large clonal colonies, derived from a single seedling, and spread by means of root suckers.  Each individual tree can live for 40–150 years above ground, but the root system of the colony can live for thousands of years.  Each individual tree is part of a genetically identical greater whole.  They are in essence one living organism.  Pando, also known as the Trembling Giants, is a colony of an individual male quaking aspen assumed to have one massive underground root system. The plant spreads over 106 acres. The root system of Pando, is estimated to be 80,000 years old.

I think we’re a lot like aspens. From above, we appear to be individuals.  We have individual traits. We look to be separate.  But, at the root, we all come from the same source and remain connected.

This journey gets hard sometimes. Being human, we can get caught up in the day-to-day and forget that we are much more than these bodies. Yesterday, I was trying to encourage a fellow Shining Light parent and told her that we need to shift to a higher perspective when things overwhelm us. 
 
I listened to this song three times this morning, just to keep myself reminded.

Overall impression… got off to a slow start. Lots of things that weren’t hits.  Many names came through. I could not connect with most.  This medium doesn’t try to reach a particular person. “Doesn’t believe in “dialing the dead.”  My take on it though is when reading for a grieving parent, parent will want to hear from their child.  Shayna didn’t come through until the very end when the medium asked me for questions. This was 50 minutes in. I figured maybe Spirit had given me what I needed rather than what I wanted.  I told her that she had touched on the big issues I’ve got going on right now which concern work/volunteer balance.  I was ready to let the reading go.  Then, the medium said she had a young girl there.  Shayna had just come through in a reading on Saturday.  Then Shayna came busting through.  When Shayna came through, she really got on a roll.  The last 20 minutes of the 70 minute reading were amazing!

First started with a David in spirit.  I don’t know anyone named David in spirit. I had given her David as my name. She said could be a middle name.  I told her David is my middle name.

Shifted to a son in spirit (I don’ have one). Ten years old. Christopher, baseball hat.  Some affiliation with the Dodgers.  (Again, nothing for me) 

P initial.  Paul.  Something like that.  (Pop?)

Chris, Crystal, Christine?-  C name really around me. (I can’t connect to that)

Something about Mom, Wife. 

Talks about a child taking responsibility for their own passing.  Age of 15.  Hanging. Back to David.  (Can’t connect that)

Gets something about me writing. Creating content.  3 books.  (I am writing the blog. Hope to turn it into book(s)).  

Dad’s side.  Dad’s father. Feeling very fatherly towards me. Calls me son.  Singing, joyous.  (Could be Pop- was a pastor- lots of singing around him).

Southern connection. Alabama? (My mother is from WV, grandmother from North Carolina).

Someone traveling for work.  Proud man. (I can’t connect to this)  

Mentions D name- still nothing.

Sense of entrepreneurship around me.  Three generations of being self made.  Pop was entrepreneur- pastor of his own church.  My father worked for the government then a large company, but kinda three generation of entrepreneurship.

Feeling of love. Devin (can’t connect to Devin).

Grandfather around me a lot.

Talking about fishing. (Never went fishing with Pop.  Went once with my maternal grandfather). 

Pop- firm but loving at the core. (I think so.  He passed when I was 11 so while I looked up to him, I didn’t know him that well.  He was much older).

Lung area.  Emphysema. – (mother’s grandfather passed from black lung?)

Carol-  giving the name Carol (I have an Aunt Carol who passed not too long ago). Pop says Carol is there.  He says she’s free now- had long illness (she did pass from an illness- kind of long).

Mama J? – (cannot connect with this nickname.  We called Pop’s wife Mom. Her name is Josephine.  I don’t think this was a nickname.  The J is correct though.)

Gets an Ann connection. (Mom’s (Pop’s wife) middle name was Anna.  I didn’t know this.  Had to verify with Dad) Very creative. Carrying blankets.  Remembrance quilt. Something on-going. She’s participating in it.   (The blankets don’t make sense. Dad couldn’t confirm.  ).

Clair or Clara, Clarisse- (can’t connect any of those.) Connected to Mama J.

Jeffrey- (Tywana’s stillborn brother.)

Train. Took the train a lot.  Engineer.  Not conductor.  Very proud of this. (No railroad connection in our family that I know of).

M name like Michael- (I have an Uncle Michael).  No more detail on this.

Family of movers and shakers (Maybe kinda)

Can accomplish a lot (me- yet to be seen).

Getting a degree that was a first for me (no.  Family is well educated) Says a lot of pride around that. (?). (I thought maybe I’m the first Chem E, but then I realized my cousin has a degree in chemical engineering)

Jack in spirit. (Uncle Jack). Patting me on the back.  Jack or John.  Jack (his name is Aaron Jackson). Feels like a funny guy (not particularly). Died unexpectedly (no. 95 after long illness).  Jack in his 50s (no).  Fairly quick.  Just went (I don’t know who this Jack is).

Daughter younger (for me).  On stage. Loving to be in the light (this is not Kayla).  Says she should be encouraged (Kayla has nothing to do with performing)

Catherine- (no connection that I’m aware of).

Maggie or Margaret- acknowledging Maggie. Mom & Daughter.  Being supportive of Maggie (Margaret is Tywana’s mother.  Her daughter is Margaret Michelle.  We all call her Shell. Her husband calls her Maggie).  Says this grandmother (Emma Rose) is quite outspoken.  Family of do-ers. 

My wife is teacher or public speaker (no.  Did homeschool the girls- teacher kinda). 

Great grandmother is smiling. (Shayna’s great grandmother).  Tywana gets a lot of “I know you from somewhere”. (True)  People are drawn to her energy (true). She commands a level of confidence in her beyond her years (?)

Tywana has friend in spirit.  Died of breast or lung cancer- within last couple of years (maybe her cousin passed from ovarian cancer)  Schooling- maybe someone she went to school with or worked with. (can’t place this one)

New York connection (I can’t think of one).  Business-related.  Possibly going there.  (My first thought was NYC- maybe Jake Samoyedney?). Has to do with my writing. (Jake has offered to help.  Maybe this is Jake).

Do I do podcasts? (I have done a couple).  This work is stepping stone to something broader. Sees this really growing for me.  Hearing fame.  Pop says it’s not about the money, it’s about the impact.

Did Pop have building with his name on it? (He did have a church that he built.  His name isn’t on it).  He also started Aenon Bible College.  Says I will be provided for (we’ll see).

Mentions Jerry- (I can’t make a Jerry connection).

Pop knew a lot of famous musicians- jazz?  (No. Pop did know a lot of gospel singers.  Famous is relative).

The reading is wrapping up. She asks if I have any questions.  I say no.  Then suddenly say a young girl is coming through. This is when things take off!

Teenager. Connection between me and her mother (my wife).

16 when she passed (Shayna was 15-½ looking forward to 16 getting her driver’s license).  Says if she wasn’t 16 then there’s something about her 16th birthday I’m supposed to bring up.  Sixteen was very important to Shayna.

Feels very tragic to me.  (Uh.  Yep.)

Asks if it was her head.  Feels dizzy. (No). Says she doesn’t really want to talk about how she died (Shayna never does).  Then, she says “Was it her heart?  An underlying condition?” (This is spot on.)  Says born with it. (True). What they said was not the truth (spot on. We were told her condition was benign and she’d live to an old age with it). Mentions incident when she was 13. (no one has ever brought this up.  No one knows). She was supposed to transition then. (This is completely new.  No one has brought this through before. Shayna did nearly pass out when she was 13. This is when she was diagnosed.  AFAIK that never happened again.). Says Shayna was able to be with us a couple of more years.

Shayna says the connection to me is strong.  

It’s like a hole or something (her heart)  Thought they could fix it. (She had two procedures). Not a hole, but being shown them fixing her makes sense). 

Shayna says “You’re not finishing without bringing me in”. 

Talking about fund named after her.  Fund- (Shayna’s scholarship fund founded the year after she transitioned). 

Now understands she had to go at this time. Able to do more good from the other side. Says “Look how much I’ve done already.”  Very proud of herself. 

I get little angels.  People call her their angel.  She comes and there’s something about wings.  Butterfly connection.  Colors blue and purple. 

Talks about me opening up my abilities. She’s knocking on the door for me.  She’s making sure this is happening for me.  Since her passing.  “It’s me. It’s me. I’m doing this.” 

She would have called you Daddy. Not Dad. That’s important for me to say.  Daddy, even at 15.  Full of love. (Yes. She always called me Daddy. Kayla would give her a hard time for this.).

I feel she did go quickly.  Wants me to know it was peaceful. Dizzy. Then I’m down. 

Trying to revive her.  (At home and in the hospital).  Talking about working on her. “Just like you read in the books, Dad.  I was up above my body and I could see and hear everything.”  One of the things you’re working on is a book or a blog post about her passing.  “It’s important that you put that in the book, Daddy. It’s important that you put that in the book.  That I came through and I told you that the light is real. But, she said she had a choice.  That she didn’t want to go. But, she could see that she could do so much good. And her loving heart knew that’s where she needed to be. She feels like a big giver.  She is saying there is nothing that could have been done.  (This choice is a new revelation. I think we didn’t get it before because it was too soon).

She’s working with me. Helping me create the book.

Are you the one having dreams of her? I should say visitations.  The visitations are real is what she says to me. (I’ve had a couple of dream I think are visitations.  Kayla has had more).

Shayna says forgive me for messing with your computer, Dad. This is one way you’ll know it’s me.  And she says “’Cause you don’t want to get another computer right now.” (A few weeks ago my primary hard drive crashed hard.  I worked for two days to try to recover it. Nothing was working. I was told I would have to buy a new machine. I still don’t know how, but I finally was able to recover from a backup and since then it’s been working fine).

Wants you know she has a dog on the other side.  Describes brownish mutt. I can’t connect with that. Then says a small white dog, too.  Chloe was small and light gray. Shayna then says she has all the animals, including the ones Pops owned. Shayna loves animals. “I have them all. They’re all here.”  That’s important for children to know.

Shayna helps kids cross over (this has come up before in readings).  One of the first things they ask for is their pet.  In the book really talk about the animals are there with us. They greet us.

She said “And that’s a whole other book, Daddy.”

Something about the ring. Ring. Someone has her ring or she has a ring.  Holding a ring.  Buried with the ring? (she was cremated)

Bracelets everyone got for her in remembrance of her. Aware and very honored. (The volleyball team still wears bracelets with her name on it and the bracelets are part of her memorial picture at the high school.  There are kids in Pennsylvania wearing her bracelets from when she visited her cousins there.)

Mentions best friend.  Jenny? (Not getting that). Wants to give her a big hug.  

Wants me to say ice cream.  She’s saying ice cream. Some connection with ice cream.  (The medium I had a reading with on Saturday brought up ice cream.  Kayla had a dream visit with Shayna where they were eating ice cream) Shayna says “I get to have all I want now”.  (These are almost her exact words in her dream visit with Kayla.  This is very significant.)

She’s tall. She’s jumping up and down. All legs. Like a model. All legs. (This is Shayna. Very lively. And, all legs).

Color blue around her.  Did her school wear blue? Something blue for her? (Helping Parents Heal wrist bands?)

She’s messing with her hair. Had a hair thing.  Her hair was everything. Braided, pony tails, on top of her head, straightened.  (Hair always comes through in readings). Says Shayna is a very good communicator. Says “Stop being nervous. I’m going to help you.”.  (Another common message from Shayna).

At this point, I tell the medium I thought maybe Shayna wasn’t going to come through. I just had a reading on Saturday and since Spirit gives us what we need instead of what we want Shayna might not show up this time.  She said she will always come through. “That’s your test.” She says “Dad, I’m the ticket.”  Loves being useful. So, allow her to do that.  Check that box, if they bring Shayna through.

Overall, I rate the reading really good in spite of the slow start.  These were unusual conditions when she knew she was being scored. Plus, I had given her a fake name since I’m part of Helping Parent Heal and didn’t want her to know who I was. I had a test reading Saturday where the medium brought through a lot of evidence and was very accurate, but there was no connection between me and her. It felt very rushed.  There was no empathy.  While there were inaccuracies in this one (maybe due to nerves), once the medium hit her stride, it was awesome. I told her Shayna would probably drop in on her (Shayna has a tendency to do this) and Shayna did later that evening.

The medium, I will now reveal was Ann Van Orsdel who has been certified by Mark Ireland and is working with Helping Parents Heal. Ann is an excellent medium. When I scored Ann, she scored very well. There were some things I could not immediately take. But, there were lots of bonuses once she got the connection with Shayna.  She brought Shayna through extremely well.  Ann did very well in her other test readings, also.


One of my favorite lines from a hymn is from It Is Well With My Soul.  While a lot of the theology of that song doesn’t fit into my current worldview, the story behind it makes it more special to me now than ever.  I remember hearing it in church just a couple of weeks after Shayna passed and it brought me to my knees.  Horatio G. Spafford, after suffering a couple of other tragedies, lost his four daughters in a shipwreck. He wrote this song about accepting all of this, in the end. He was saying he had a deep abiding trust in the eventual goodness of this whole experience.  One of the last lines is “Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight…” has deep, deep meaning for me now. He wrote the line referencing the return of Jesus in the clouds.  I don’t wait for the rapture.  For me, it’s about the day I can embrace Shayna again.  Then my faith shall be made sight. This week, I saw a miracle.   My faith was made sight, just a little bit. I got a peek behind the veil.

Just three days ago, the force that is Brenda Bollman Baker drew her last breath, or so we thought. Brenda is a dear woman I met three times at various conferences on spirituality. Brenda and her friend Lynette started a Facebook group called Souls Awakening, a group that has grown to nearly 100 members now.  Souls Awakening is about developing spiritual gifts, developing souls, and developing mediumistic abilities.  They have regular meetings over the internet and the women in the group (there were only a couple of us men) have grown into family more like sisters than just friends.  Brenda and Lynette are so close that people started referring to them as Brenette.  A few weeks ago Brenda was given three to six months to live.  I saw her last about a month ago in Arizona where I got to give her one last hug.

We knew Brenda was going. This was not a surprise. Brenda planned for it and prepared us for it.  Brenda was an English teacher at one time and was a teacher of all of us right up until the end. Even though everyone in this group believes strongly in the afterlife, this is the real test of your faith, when one of your own makes their transition. Sure, we believe we’ll see them again in the sweet by and by. But, we have to go through this loss now.  And, while we believe, do we really know?  Well, I do now.

I spent my entire life growing up in the church where we supposedly believe in heaven. But, as much as people believe, no one’s in a hurry to get there.  We still have funerals that are largely dark and full of tears (I’m seeing a shift there to be fair).  The end of a human life is certainly not something we celebrate.  Brenda’s passing was however different from anything I’ve experienced.

Even before Brenda’s body took its last breath, she was already out visiting people.  She visited Suzanne Giesemann, a world-class medium, on the hiking trail before her body stopped breathing.  She visited Susanne Wilson, who she really didn’t know all that well in life. Brenda took her last breath, I believe it was 2 something PM Arizona time.  Just a few hours later, Brenda was dropping in on Susanne Wilson’s mediumship development class. Suzanne joined them on the meeting. She was scheduled to be with Brenda that night by Brenda’s death bed. Little did she know she’d be talking to Brenda that night, just not while Brenda was in the body. Suzanne and Susanne tag teamed on a link with Brenda (now in spirit) and Brenda delivered messages to people telling them things she had agreed to tell before she left.  It’s not up to me to reveal the details, but for one woman, she told her “When I get there, I’m going to send you this particular message. When you get it, you are no longer allowed to doubt.”  That very message was delivered through Susanne Wilson that night.

But, Brenda was not done. She came through another medium in a totally separate event with another friend of mine. She delivered a secret message through another medium who is a member of Souls Awakening to a different member.  Brenda was fulfilling her promises all over the place. She was going to come back and tell us it was all real. Then, Brenda had the group arrange a special Friday night session where she would be the star. She told Suzanne that she would speak through her to the group.  I’m not really sure how to describe what I saw. I’ve seen Suzanne do readings. And, I’ve seen Suzanne channel her spirit guides Sanaya.  Suzanne described the state she was in as somewhere in between the expanded consciousness she’s in for readings and the deep meditation she goes into for channeling Sanaya. Suzanne channeled Brenda as Brenda described her crossing to us, what it’s like where she is, and was just herself in all her Brenda-ness.

It was just like having a conversation with Brenda as Suzanne took on her inflections, her mannerisms, and delivered humor that could only be from Brenda. If you knew Brenda, you recognized Brenda on Suzanne’s face and in her voice. Brenda was surprised that the crossing was so uneventful.  No tunnels or big bright lights.  She said “I just woke up!”. Her guess is that because of all of the preparation she had done and her knowing that she would wake up, she didn’t need all the bells and whistles. She said breathing is a lot easier (breathing problems plagued her those last few weeks). And, she is surprised to find that she still breathes.  She’s already met some of our kids and says she will continue to teach us from the other side.  She said she’s been told she will continue to develop while there, but she will keep her Brenda persona when she’s dealing with us so that we can continue to recognize her.

That’s one of the miracles I beheld this week. The other is the way this group of people are reacting to Brenda’s “death”.  When I said earlier Brenda’s body had taken its last breath, I inserted the word body because apparently Brenda is still breathing. I think I can safely speak for the group to say that while we expected to get a few signs from Brenda here and there, no one expected Brenda to be speaking directly to use a couple of days after her passing. She had Suzanne Giesemann taking dictation from her.  Everyone is on Cloud 9.  The energy in the meeting I was in last night, where Suzanne was channeling Brenda was almost overwhelming as everyone felt Brenda’s spirit and we knew, knew that she is still right here with us.  Brenda said she doesn’t like us calling it the Other Side because she’s not on the other side of anything and that makes it sound like there’s a barrier between us.  She said she’d have to work on another word for it.

Not to be Debbie Downer, but there is another side to this I have to address.  Brenda leaves behind people who are going to miss her physical presence tremendously. They will miss her voice, her hugs, her smile.  As much as the evidence Brenda has already given us gives up comfort, I have to acknowledge that Paul’s boast that death has no sting and the grave has no victory is certainly true in the long run, but it does sting a little right now.  Lynette and Brenda’s family will miss her. When we asked Brenda what we can do for her, she said really nothing. She appreciates and feels all the good thoughts and prayers. She just doesn’t need them. Brenda is good. But, keep her son, daughter-in-law and the other half of Brenette in your thoughts.

Brenda, I am so glad I got to meet you, even as briefly as it was, in the flesh. And, I feel honored and privileged to have been part of this miracle of your passing and coming back to us. I never thought I would see anything like it.

 

So yesterday was Mother’s Day.  Tywana decided to buy some ice cream to go along with the red velvet cake our friend Amy had brought over on Saturday night. Tywana and her mother stopped by UDF to pick up some ice cream and she got black walnut, her favorite and my mother’s favorite. We rarely get ice cream since Shayna’s not here to eat it. I can’t remember the last time we bought it. I know we just threw some out a couple of weeks ago because it was freezer burned.  Tywana and I talked about black walnuts and I said I was surprised that her mother likes it because it’s such a strong, unique flavor. She talked about growing up with black walnuts growing wild where they lived.

Today, on my walk, I look down and on the road I spot… a black walnut.  Perfectly split right down the middle with a heart shaped kernel.

OK. So I have to wonder. These small manifestations seem to be happening.  I have seen walnuts occasionally before. Never on the road where I found this one and I walk it every day. Never one split in half like this.

 

When you go through the passing of a child, everyone gathers around for the first few days, maybe even a few weeks. But, after months and years, that’s when you find out who is really on this journey with you. It’s the people who don’t forget.  It’s the people who show up when you least expect it.

It’s been nearly three years now. The purple ribbons the girls put up around the neighborhood in honor of Shayna are tattered and torn. Some are gone. The wreaths people put up on their doors are mostly gone. However, we know we are still in the hearts of our neighbors, who are family without the blood ties. They still participate in Shayna’s race.  They come over on special occasions. They let us know we are not forgotten.

Tonight, we’re having the Lorenzes over for drinks on the deck. Mike and Lisa show up a few minutes after 7. A few minutes later, the doorbell rings. I was expecting my brother and sister-in-law in for my niece’s and nephew’ soccer tournament this weekend, but I hear a lot of noise at the door. Tywana’s talking in her high pitched excited tone. She’s at the door a long time just to let in Brent and Sherri.  What’s going on I wonder?  I look up and I see Amy and Tom.  Joan and Tim are here also.  The Scherers show up.

I find out it’s graduation week at Lakota. This would be Shayna’s senior year. So, our neighbors crashed our party to let us know they are thinking of us.  They’ve brought gifts. Amy has made her first cake ever- red velvet in honor of being Shayna’s favorite (in actuality no one knows what Shayna’s favorite dessert was because the girl loved anything with sugar).

We make our way out onto the deck and talk well into the night (later than we did last week at the actual party, ironically).  We are blessed indeed.

Today, I sit for a test reading with a medium.  I don’t know her name. She doesn’t know mine. She is being tested by a friend who is a medium. The test is completely blind. The meeting is done via Skype.  My friend, the tester, calls the medium on Skype, then adds me in.  The medium was given zero information about me, no payment information, no name, no phone number. This will be a 30 minute test.

She starts by talking about a father figure in spirit.  My father is still in the flesh. But, a father energy can be a grandfather.  Yes. Both my grandfathers are crossed over. This grandfather is very generous with his time and everything else.  He’s also highly in demand. This sounds like my father’s father who was a pastor of a very large church. I was often jealous that other people demanded so much of his time and they even called him my name for him, “Pop”. This has got to be Pop coming through. What’s fascinating is Pop has come through before, but Pop was a Pentecostal preacher.  He would have had nothing to do with mediums while he was here.  This will circle back around to Pop later.

She tells me when I was a kid I had lots of questions. I always wanted to know how and why. I did not care about authority figures telling me things, I wanted to know “why”.  This is all true. I used to get into trouble for asking too many questions.  She tells me she sees two children in the spirit world.  They might have passed in similar circumstances. I tell her I cannot identify with two children in spirit who passed under similar circumstances. She decides to separate them and focus on one. She asks me if I know of a girl child in spirit. I do, my 15 year old daughter. All I tell her is “Yes, I can identify with a girl child in spirit.”.  She goes on to describe her as inquisitive, like me. Yes. Shayna never stopped asking questions. I used to get frustrated because she would ask why and when you answered that, the question would be “Well, why that?”  She has nailed Shayna’s personality and tied it in with my own.

She tries to get Shayna’s cause of death. She says Shayna doesn’t want to dwell on it. This is common. Other mediums have tried. Some have gotten it, but Shayna doesn’t emphasize it.  She does get that it was very sudden with no reason. This is true. It was sudden and unexpected.  She says I dwell on knowing the reason and it’s interfering with my life. This isn’t true. I don’t dwell on it. I’ve accepted that we’ll never know. But, she’s right about the reason being unclear.

She says something about taking Shayna to the park. What parent hasn’t? But, she gets more specific. “Did she love to play in sand?”  Going to the beach was Shayna’s absolute favorite thing.  We could not get her off the beach once we were there.  She mentions “Play-Doh”.  This medium is English. She says she doesn’t know if we have Play-Doh. Yes. The girls loved Play-Doh.  She says she was very creative.  You still have some of her things around.  She made necklaces. They were very intricate beyond her years.  I don’t recall Shayna making necklaces, but she was always beyond her years with her dexterity and creativity.  I’m doing this reading at my desk. I pick up a container of flowers made from buttons, pipe cleaners, and construction paper in a cup… wait for it… a Play-Doh container.  I show it to her on the camera. This is on my desk out of view of the camera, along with two other crafts from the girls.

She asks me if Shayna had a particular “dolly” that she always carried. It’s a soft doll, not hard plastic.  Floppy material.  There is hair missing. Barely any hair left.  Shayna collected Care-Bears, but her favorite stuffed animal was Peek-wee (not sure of the spelling), her penguin. She carried him for years.  Peek-wee had a tuft of hair that is just about gone.

She says there was no pain when Shayna transitioned. This is confirmation from other readings and goes along with the fact she passed in her sleep, in her bed.  She says I was very upset by what I saw (uh yeah, Captain Obvious).  She says I did everything I could to save her.  Yes.  We did CPR until the EMT arrived. There was no chance of saving her.

She says I do work to support other parents, to get them through from day-to-day. This is my mission.  I help other parents. I’ve been volunteering with Helping Parents Heal for a couple of years now. I often spend more time on my volunteer work that on my real day job.  There is no way for her to have known this.

She mentions an older boy in the family. A cousin perhaps.  Older. Sensitive.  This thread kind of drops. She doesn’t follow up on it.

She says things in the house move. This has happened. Also lights come on randomly, the ceiling fan comes on by itself. She doesn’t mention these other occurrences. But, she says Shayna didn’t always fess up to moving things when she was here and isn’t now either. We laugh.

She asks me about a name Winona or Winnie. I can’t connect with either. I think Winnie The Pooh, Kayla’s favorite cartoon character. But, it’s probably Tywana.  Not many people know Tywana’s full name. And mediums can usually only get names they know. Being from England, she’s probably never heard the name. Winona and Tywana are close enough, I’ll give her a hit on this.

Mentions we have lots of photographs of Shayna and lots of videos. Also mentions a picture that changes all the time- rotating images. We used to have a digital picture frame that did that.  All parents have lots of videos and photos of their kids the days.  Mentions a permanent remembrance of Shayna. The high school has a photo in the hallway leading to the girls’ locker room with a picture and a plaque with a tribute to Shayna and two other girls.

Says Christmas was difficult but we did the best we could to make it “normal”. True. A bit vague. But, we started a new tradition of going to the movies on Christmas Day, after Shayna passed.

Says Shayna has a particular fondness for ice cream and mentions a treat they have in England called something knickerbocker. Says she sees Shayna making this giant ice cream sundae thing nd handing it to me. This is interesting because just this week we threw out some containers of ice cream because without Shayna being here they were not eaten and had gotten freezer burn. Shayna loved ice cream. Kayla had a dream visit where they were getting ice cream and Kayla wasn’t going to go back for seconds when Shayna said “Oh, it’s OK.  You can have all the ice cream you want here.”

Says Shayna is giving Pop the runaround in the afterlife. Entirely possibly. Normally we get Shayna is with her grandfather. This is the first medium who has put her with Pop.

Mentions Shayna is very bright. Shayna was 16th in a class of nearly 600 after her freshman year.

Mentions someone shopping. Asks if I’ve been shopping today. I have not.  Asks if someone in the family has.  My wife has. But, Tywana shops nearly every day.  Then, she gets more specific.  There is a wedding coming up. Someone is looking for an outfit for the wedding. Shayna’s older cousin, Nicholas, is getting married in September.  This could be the older, sensitive cousin mentioned earlier.  Kayla has just gotten her dress for the wedding and I’m sure Tywana has, is, or will be shopping for her dress.  Says Tywana is an elegant lady and Shayna wants her to wear something elegant.  Says Shayna was quick to tell you if she didn’t like something. Very true.  Says there were some clothes tried on today she didn’t care for.  I don’t think Tywana went clothes shopping today though. This might be past or future coming through.

Back to the grandfather. He says he knows changes have already happened in our life, but that there are more changes coming and I should be open to them. I have free will, but I should not hold back. I should consider them and not say no without consideration. This is interesting because I have felt a major shift coming being both pushed out of where I am and pulled into where I’m going. I have been consulting my guides about this. I have had several people tell me to go forward including having a medium pull me aside at a party a couple of weeks ago to tell me I should be open to this.  And, I’ve always felt the pull to follow in Pop’s footsteps. Pop is my idol. I knew the traditional Christian ministry was not for me, but I’ve been writing, counseling, and teaching (all free of charge) for most of my adult life.  Pop starts and ends this reading.