It’s Christmas Day. It’s the fourth Christmas since Shayna passed. I dread Christmas now. Being an adult at Christmas time was only stressful before the girls came along. Then, it had the magic again for several years as we bought for them, watched their eyes light up when they saw their presents, the wonder on their faces as they saw the notes from Santa, and Shayna’s passion for Christmas. But, for the last four years, Christmas is a day I would just as soon skip. Trying to decide what to buy for Tywana is something I’ve given up on. She buys for herself year round. When she goes Christmas shopping for others, it’s one present for them, one present for Tywana. She bought herself a Fitbit over Black Friday weekend, accessories for it since then, new earrings, pajamas when she was shopping for Kayla, etc. So, we’ve agreed I don’t buy for her. Kayla wanted cash for Christmas this year to help fund her trip to Mexico. So, our gifts for her were somewhat limited. I’ll have to buy something for gift exchanges with my family- people who have too much already. It’ll be gift cards for the parents again.
Yesterday, on Christmas Eve, Thomas John once again generously donated his time to our parents. Thomas sat for over an hour doing readings for over 100 parents who were missing their kids. As always, Thomas brought through absolutely astounding evidence. Many tears fell as parents heard from their kids validating that not only do they still live, they are active in our lives and aware of what we are doing. We went to bed at midnight. Last night was a full moon. When the moon is out, I’ll say goodnight to Shayna while looking at the moon. Last night I said Merry Christmas to Shayna as I looked at the moon glowing through the light cloud cover. I shed a few tears missing having my baby here to make Christmas exciting. As much as Shayna loved the thrill of Christmas, I know she’s not missing anything where she is. I know she’s fine. I know she’s having more fun than I am.
I woke up early and thought about “Christmas Day.” I decided to skip my walk today. I got dressed in the dark and went downstairs. I did a meditation that Susanne Wilson recorded, one designed to connect with a loved one on the other side. Shayna came to me in the meditation, and we had a nice visit as the tears rolled down my face. Better to get them all out before Tywana and Kayla got up.
I started to think about how Christmas has changed for so many. The parents on Helping Parents Heal were making posts, missing their kids. Many of the parents who had readings were thanking Thomas and coming through with more validations as they thought about what he had said, and it started to make sense to them.
I have to have an aside here. Last week, we had a meeting in which our featured speaker couldn’t make it. My buddy Jake Samoyedny filled in at the last minute. One of the mothers on the call had just had a reading with Jake. He had told her that she would get a visit from her son in an airport over Christmas. She was upset because her Christman travel plans had been canceled. So, Jake’s prediction could not come true. Then, two days ago, a relative passed suddenly. On the 23rd of December, she found out she would have to travel on Christmas Eve. As she sat in the airport, across the way, about 40′ away, she spotted someone who looked just like her son who is deceased. He was looking in her direction, but too far away to be making eye contact with her specifically. As he stood there drinking from her water bottle, he smiled. She began recording. Then, she whispered, “Smile again.” , at that moment, even though there is no way he could have heard her, he smiled in her direction. I know this is true because she captured it on video.
Yesterday, in the reading, Thomas told a mother that she had gone skiing in New Hampshire. She said, “Yes, I have been skiing.” Most mediums would have taken this. Thomas said, “Was it in New Hampshire?” She had to think about it. She confirmed it was New Hampshire. Amazing. Thomas brought through other pieces of evidence for her and others. People wonder if Thomas looks things up because he is so accurate. Well, there were over 100 people on this call. I saw him do similar things on a Facebook Live earlier in the day with 1,000 people on. He has no idea who will be on. He brings up things that would never have been recorded anywhere. This morning, however, the mother posted this. “I received another Christmas gift from heaven, this morning. When the alarm woke me up, this morning, the DJ said be caller 10 to win ski tickets. I just kept getting through, until I won! Thank you
As I read the parents posting about missing their kids, and I thought about how much I miss Shayna, I started remembering that the Christmases of little kids excitingly opening toys were long gone for me before Shayna passed. As teenagers, the girls had started sleeping in on Christmas mornings. There were fewer and fewer toys for me to play with. I thought about my sister-in-law spending her first Christmas without her boys there. Two are in London; one got married this year. Our neighbor’s 23-year-old daughter is spending her first Christmas away, with her boyfriend. These are natural progressions. Our kids leaving us early to head back Home is an abrupt change. But, Christmas changes over the years, regardless. The magic of being a child is replaced by stress as we become adults. The joy of seeing your kids on Christmas mornings turns into waiting for your teenagers to finally roll out of bed in the afternoon and morphs into waiting for grandchildren to bring the magic back
It’s time for a change in expectations. I think it was the year before Shayna passed that we started going to a movie on Christmas Day. A couple of years ago, we dropped the tradition of “bird” (Cornish hens) on Christmas. This is Kayla’s last year in her undergraduate program. Maybe next year it’s time to start traveling again on Christmas. We stopped traveling the year Tywana was pregnant with Shayna.
Grief happens when our expectations are not aligned with reality. The bigger the gap, the more profound the grief. Since we can’t change reality (at least not readily or easily), it makes sense to adjust expectations. I’m trying to view Christmas as just a day. Expecting every Christmas to be amazing simply isn’t realistic. As I type this, Kayla and Tywana are working on a crossword puzzle, and my mother-in-law sits at the kitchen table making a visit from the retirement home. She’s repeating her mantra “There’s no place like home.” Since she moved into the retirement home, that’s all we hear from her. She lives in Disappointment City. Kayla and Tywana are trying to talk her out of it.
I’m looking for things to be grateful for. The sun is shining (a Christmas miracle in itself). Kayla is home and will be for a couple of more weeks. I have a ribeye roast in the sous vide. My friend sent a nice bottle of bourbon for Christmas. And, every day is one day closer to seeing Shayna again. No two Christmases are ever the same. I will never have the Christmas where I put together the dollhouse for the girls or the Christmas where Shayna got the keyboard and her face lit up the room. I’m glad to have had the magical Christmases I had with the girls. Tonight, we’ll have a quiet dinner with Tywana’s mother. I’ll have a bourbon or two. And, I have another day with Tywana and Kayla. This one I will accept as it is.
Wow Brian so well said. Dave and I decided early in our journey without our sons that Christmas was for kids and so we skip it and go to a movie and eat chex mix I make every year and very slowly get through yet another day. We are miles down the road and yet every once in a while it feels fresh, that wound is a pot hole in the road of our journey. Dave and I would not be where we are without opening our minds and believing in opportunities to heal and it was Jake who also admonished me to just say YES to invitations or opportunities. This is a wild ride we are on and I know my guys are with me every inch of the way. Thanks for such a beautifully written blog and much light and love your way! Jenni Lyle
This was a beautiful post. You speak so eloquently of grief that doesn’t end and how we go on. One day closer. Also to a fresh year which always seems kind of hope-y. ???
Love this Brian: “Grief happens when our expectations are not aligned with reality. The bigger the gap, the more profound the grief. Since we can’t change reality (at least not readily or easily), it makes sense to adjust expectations.”
It just occurred to me yesterday morning that it is really all about expectations. I shed a few tears, but overall, I had a good day.
This one really hit home Brian. I so agree with both you and Victor that our ‘expectations are often NOT aligned with reality’. I
recently read a piece written by Jeff Foster on grief and loss where he quoted the Buddhist teacher ‘ Adyashanti ‘ that captured this sentiment so well. “Grief is the loss of your dream of a future that wasn’t going to happen anyway.”
Here is a segment from the article:
Life itself is not cruel, for life is All. It is the loss of our dreams that feels ‘cruel’ at first. But contained within that loss is a secret invitation – to wake up from all dreams. To see the inherent perfection in all things, in all movements of life, not as a concept or fluffy belief, but as a living reality. To see that life itself never really goes wrong, for there is no goal to miss, and that even the intense grief that we feel is a movement of love, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. It is because we love life and each so much that we feel everything so intensely. And we are vast enough to contain it all – the bliss and the pain, the joy and the grief, the plans and the destruction of those plans. Who we are is not broken, who we are is never lost, only our dreams, only our innocent hopes.
Just let me know if you would like to read the article in it’s entirety.
Sending you, Tywanna and Kayla much love and light as we approach our New Year, Sue Zetteler
Beautiful Post! I love your words and I enjoy following your journey because we lost our children at the same time. You and your wife are people I admire and respect so much. We have not celebrated Christmas since Kevin died. My friend who lost an infant to SIDS 20 years ago always runs away on Christmas with her family. I now understand why.
Thank you so much for this post. I happened upon your blog because I share a first name with your beautiful Shayna. I have been dealing with older children growing up and moving on like they do. Thank you for your healing words. I will be following your journey.
Wow. I have to say it’s a little odd seeing a comment from “Shayna”. There aren’t a lot of people out there with that name. Thanks for taking the time to reply.