Today is a jumble of emotions. My buddy who checks in with me at least once a day, usually twice, checks in first thing in the morning. I’m feeling depressed, but I got up, got dressed and made it out the door to a breakfast meeting with a friend I haven’t seen in years. People are filling my calendar, everyone wanting to do something to help. And these talks are helpful- very helpful.
We meet over breakfast and I ask how his family is. Social norms, you know. When you ask a man with five kids how his family is, be prepared to listen for a little while. This friend is a dedicated family man, a warrior for his family, someone who- like me- would lay down his life for his family. I’m looking forward to talking to him because I know he gets me. He tells me of a loss in his family and how it has torn their hearts apart. His daughter was engaged and jilted at the last moment. He felt guilt, anger, loss, etc. People want to find something they can relate to our loss. While they know nothing compares with the actual loss of a child, they want you to know they have suffered some loss too and can relate. The conversation turns and I get to talk about Shayna for an hour. I can never get enough of talking about her. Finally, at the end, we discuss a potential business deal I’ve been working on that looks like it might finally close.
I come home. Time to do my workout. I hate working out if it’s not first thing in the morning, but it’s got to be done. I get dressed, do my T25 working up a good sweat. Exercise helps fight the depression. Sweating feels good. I grunt and groan, thinking of Shayna the whole time, getting out some of the anger at the unfairness of her death.
The afternoon brings a meeting with a business partner who is going in on the deal with me. He is a good friend. We talk about his sister’s passing and the impact she had on others that he didn’t know until after she was gone. I tell him one benefit of this situation is we see how much we are loved. I have always felt God gave me talent that I was squandering. My business isn’t exactly philanthropic. I’m not involved much in charities. I don’t have large sums of money to give away. I live an ordinary life. Seeing how Shayna grew where she was planted, how that little girl touched so many in such big ways is inspiring to me. Seeing the impact our family has had on this community- both physically and through cyberspace, has given me immense gratification.
Two of the volleyball moms on the high school team want to stop over with their daughters who played with Shayna. They were not able to attend the celebration. One tells us she was so broken up over Shayna’s passing that she could not bring herself to come until now. People are shocked, stunned and grieving along with us.
As we talk, I realize I sound very matter-of-fact about the whole thing. I’ve had this conversation so many times maybe it’s starting to sound like this is easy. Ty and I have vowed this will not destroy our marriage. We have vowed to be here for each other and for Kayla. We have vowed to honor Shayna by remaining a healthy family. Our friends tell us how wonderful Shayna was. We smile. “Yes, we know.” I look at their daughters for the first time able to look at a 15 year old without feeling envy. They are alive, healthy, practicing volleyball, getting ready for the school year. Good for them. We talk about driving. Shayna would have started driving in exactly 5 days. She was so excited about it.
I start to wonder about my sense of loss for Shayna. How much of it is ego? I am so proud of that girl. Everyone told me how wonderful she was and I soaked it all in. Beautiful, smart, athletic, artistic, humble, compassionate, funny. Am I mourning her because I won’t hear those compliments anymore?
Evening comes. Kayla has gotten off work early today. Great! She needed the break. I make dinner, thinking of Shayna. She’s not going to be here to critique my food. I could always count on her to say “You needed a little more of this.” or “Is that lemon I taste in this?” I miss her terribly. We sit down to watch TV. It’s the three of us. We were so looking forward to the four of us being together this summer.
My emotions are all over the place. I’m enjoying the evening with Ty and Kayla. Ty’s having gelato. We tease her because she is opening a carton before finishing the previous one. Typical Shayna move. Kayla teases her about being a 51 year old child, but we have to be gentle on her now I remind Kayla. Shayna isn’t here to have her back. Shayna would have been in that gelato right with her.
Today has been a pretty good day. Productive. I’ve made dinner. Made progress on a big deal. Feeling good brings its own bad emotion with it. “How can you feel good with Shayna not here? How can you talk about business?” We closed Shayna’s bank account today. I don’t want to take her money. That’s Shayna’s money, but Shayna doesn’t need money anymore.
I want to heal. I think so anyway. My friends and family are pulling for me, praying for me, grieving with me, taking as much of my burden as they can and I can feel that. OTOH, the pain keeps Shayna close. The pain honors her. If I let go of the pain, am I letting go of her? The guilt of losing her on my watch is being replaced with the guilt of wanting to feel better feeling better equating to letting go of her. My sleep pattern is just about back to normal. The moaning in the middle of the night has subsided. The gut punches are easier to take when I have those thoughts of Shayna that literally take my breath away. I don’t feel as miserable as I did two weeks ago or one week ago and that makes me feel bad.
The military talks about not leaving a soldier behind. That comes to mind. I don’t want to leave her behind, but she’s not behind me. She’s ahead of me. I’m so confused. Counseling starts in five days. I’m trying to hang in there until I can get help sorting through all of this.