Ty and I are meeting some marketing people to discuss the launch of our first truly unique new product in the history of our company. As we are introducing them to our company and to our goals, our origin story comes up. They want to know what makes us newsworthy, so we can get some free press. We talk about the product, but Ty mentions our company itself is newsworthy having being written about in Ebony magazine. We don’t go into the details about our two girls at this moment, but I get that feeling of apprehension I get whenever we’re talking to strangers about our family, at what point do I tell them about Shayna? Do I tell them about Shayna? We get through this part of the meeting without talking about the girls.
We start talking about a marketing strategy and they tell us about a company they worked with who packed up their cars with display cases of their products and drove to independent hardware stores to market directly. Guerilla marketing they call it. One of them asks me if this is something that we can do. Sure. I say. I guess we can now. I mention hair shows which is something we haven’t done much of because up until June 24th of this year we were 100% consumed with being here for Kayla or Shayna or both. Traveling to hair shows isn’t something we could commit to. I give them the reason we haven’t done hair shows and segue into the fact that the girls are out of the house now, so it’s something we’ve talked about doing more of. The mention of the girls catches one guy’s attention and he asks “Oh, so how old are your girls now?” Whoops. Now we’re in it. This is where you start doing mental gymnastics. How much do you want to say? Do you just give Kayla’s age and the age Shayna would be? Is Shayna still 15 (16 next week)? How awkward do you want to make everyone feel? Do you use the past tense or the present tense to talk about your daughter who has moved to Heaven? I don’t even remember exactly what I said. I told him we have a 19 year old who is at the University of Toledo and we have a 16 year old who passed away. And now we’re in the moment where three people in the room just look at me wondering how to react? Bryan, the guy we worked with before, didn’t know of Shayna’s passing. We don’t have a close relationship. They offer some perfunctory condolences and we just keep rolling with the hair show conversation.
Six months after Shayna’s transition I still don’t know what words to use. Death, passing, transition? I used transcendence on her funeral/life celebration program. I’m typically one who shoots straight and I’m not a big fan of euphemisms, but I know Shayna is not dead as in no longer alive. When I hear dead, I think finished, gone. Her body is no longer with us, but Shayna is alive and well and I believe still with us. We still have two daughters. I will always have two daughters. It’s just that one doesn’t live in the body anymore. She has gone ahead to the real world while we are all still living in this dream (nightmare). The awkward moments are going to keep coming. There’s no great way to prepare for them. There is no way to avoid them. I’m not going to rehearse or come up with a canned speech. I’ll just take them as they come and handle them the best way I can in the moment.