I think I see another sign post ahead on this road of grief. The stages aren’t clearly marked and often times we wander back into familiar territory revisiting anger or depression again, but in a new way. But, I seem to be leaving the town of Denial and as I do, I see Depression coming up ahead. The moments when I can’t believe Shayna is gone, when I can’t believe she is dead, are becoming fewer and farther in between. The new normal of just Ty and me being empty nesters. The brief times when Kayla is here and it’s the three of us. Those are starting to feel familiar. But, just because they are familiar doesn’t mean I like them.
For 15 years I was Shayna’s Dad. For 19 years I have been Kayla’s Dad. I loved being Shayna’s Dad. Being their father is what I lived for. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t brag about much, but I never held back when it comes to bragging about my girls. Beautiful, smart, compassionate, independent I could never say enough about them. One of the things that hurts the worst is referring to Shayna in the past tense. It goes through me like a knife. I refer to Shayna in the present tense most of the time. Maybe this is a bit of denial, but I do believe that Shayna is alive. I do believe that Shayna is still with us. Two of the things the medium said to me that were most important to me is that Shayna will always be my daughter, which means I will always be her Dad. And, that Shayna is still with us every day involved in daily life. I hate to say it’s not the same saying good morning to the poster of her on the stairs and saying good night to her in the night sky. It’s not the same thinking of her sitting on the couch watching TV with us and not seeing her, but it’s what I have and have to make do with that.
But there are times like today when I was describing Shayna’s group of friends that I can’t avoid speaking in the past. They were a cute little international club, embracing their racial and ethnic differences, learning, laughing loving. Were. Past tense. The circle is broken. I had to speak in the past tense. I hate that. And that is when the depression hits.
We are not the roles we play when we come here. Father, son, brother, husband even Dad. I knew that. I know that. But, that didn’t stop me from becoming attached to the role of Dad. It’s been my favorite part so far. It’s the only role I truly felt that I was born to play. Not having Shayna here guide and to hug and to admire is killing me and the thought of having to go on for years or decades with that hole is more than I can bear right now. Ty and Kayla and I are committed to keeping Shayna as part of our family as long as the three of us are still on this plane, but not having our baby here with us it’s just not the same.
I was telling my buddy about moving from Denial to Depression the other day and he told me he was sorry. Well, it’s progress of a sort. Staying in Denial forever isn’t good. Denial is a nice place to visit, but it’s a tourist town. You just pass through and stay for as long as you need. Then it’s on to the next stop.
I have my memories of the times with Shayna and I have my reunion with Shayna to look forward to. In this between time, while I have to accept that our physical time this time around is in the past, I cannot and will not let go of being Shayna’s Dad.