Today is the last day of the year. In our culture, we make certain days more significant than others. We set expectations for these 24 hour periods like they are special. In reality, each of them is exactly like any other day of the year. Ironically, what they have in common is that they are each unique.  Yet, we place expectations on them depending on where they fall on the calendar. Yet, Christmas is supposed to be like this.  New Year’s is supposed to be like that.

I saw so many parents talking about how much they dreaded Christmas that it triggered me to look at Christmas differently this year. I had that same dread. I purposely lowered expectations, not allowing myself to be disappointed because this Christmas wouldn’t be like Christmases in the past. And, to my pleasant surprise, it worked. Christmas was not so bad. It was actually somewhat pleasant because I took it for what it was, a day to hang out with Kayla and Tywana and enjoy our time together. Four days later, I had the Christmas celebration with the parents. Again, I reset my expectations, and I got through it with minimal pain and discomfort.

For many of us parents, New Year’s Day is even worse than Christmas. New Years is a time of beginnings. Society tells us we are supposed to look forward to the upcoming year. If we are still connected to our child in the past, we will feel that we are putting another year of distance between them and us. Starting another year without our child is a milestone we don’t want to pass. We want to hold onto the past. It makes it impossible to look forward with any desire for the future. If our child stopped existing on the day their body died, it’s as if we left them there and we are continuing forward. Each year they get farther and farther behind, in our rearview mirror.  Living my life looking back has been hell. I’m choosing another way. 

Therefore, I’m going to choose to look at this end of the year differently. I’m celebrating the close of 2018. 2018 has been a rough year. But, I endured. It’s been three and a half years since Shayna passed. That’s a lot of distance. I woke up this morning and congratulated myself on my journey. My God, three and a half years ago I could not anticipate getting up the next day, let alone surviving for one thousand two hundred and eighty-six days. To have made it this far is an accomplishment. When I raise that glass of champagne at midnight, I will gladly leave 2018 in the past. Good riddance.

Shayna walks with me. I didn’t leave her in 2015. Every day I know this more and more because I actively work to reinforce this truth, via my meditations, my reading, my studying, on my walks. The world tells me that my child died. I know that she simply made the transition I will make sooner than I did. She sits right here beside me on the other side of a thin veil. I refuse to leave Shayna behind in June of 2015. As time passes rather than look backward and see her fading into my past, I carry her with me, and I chooses to look forward. I long for the day when we are reunited. I rehearse that day in my meditations, meeting with her and other passed loved ones in a place in my mind. And, every day that passes brings me one day closer to her.

Adios 2018. Bring on 2019. I ‘m going to do everything I can in the coming year to fulfill my mission and to make Shayna proud of me. 

6 replies
  1. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    Very nice. Christmas was not so bad. However, I have a daughter who’s been quite moody. A challenge for me. What suggestions would you have to help navigate our journey now since my son, her brother transitioned?

    Reply
    • Brian Smith
      Brian Smith says:

      I think all of us with other children face this challenge. We want to help them through their grief journey, even to take away their pain. One of the lessons for us is that their journey is their own. We can only do so much for them. Be there for them. Listen. Share our true feelings. Let them feel safe. Offer them resources but know they’ll probably reject most of them. I keep gently making suggestion to Kayla but she takes very few of them.

      Reply
  2. Dee
    Dee says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth. I look forward to each day passing because it brings me one day closer to seeing my son Daniel. I will not allow him to be forgotten, he is with me always.

    Reply
  3. Jackie
    Jackie says:

    Seven years have passed, and I finally realize that I always choose pain. When I begin each day, despite the many good things I have in life, I continue to choose pain in response to remembering on MANY of those days. One day, I had a harsh talk with myself—being loyal to the pain doesn’t make me a better mother, doesn’t change what happened—-choosing the pain every time just makes me hurt. I have to choose pain less.

    Reply

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