The triggers are everywhere. When someone is as intertwined into your life as Shayna is into mine (note the present tense), there is no way to avoid the things that make you think about her. And, I don’t want to. I hear of people who avoid certain places, certain things, even certain foods. Anything that reminds them of their loved one brings pain. I’m choosing to go another route. I’m leaning into the triggers. Shayna was the lock screen on my phone. Every time I unlock my phone, I see her beautiful face. Why? Because Shayna was always grabbing my phone (and anyone else’s) and putting her face on it. Shayna’s picture is front and center on my Facebook cover and the website we run for our business. I see those sites many times each day. Each time I look at it with tenderness and think of her.
There are the obvious triggers- things that belonged to her, pictures of her, but I’ve also found there is a way to work Shayna into just about every song I hear. I can work her into any television program I’m watching. I see old women and I think “Why isn’t Shayna ever going to get the chance to get old?” A friend took me to lunch today. It was going great. We had a nice long chat about all kinds of stuff, including Shayna. I want to remain a well rounded person. I am reading a book written by grieving mothers who mostly cut off communication with friends who had not lost a child. They called everyone else “civilians” and say civilians can’t understand our grief. No, civilians can’t, but I still want to have lunch with my friends and talk about other friends, business and the world which continues around me. Then, we came back to talking about Shayna. A nice well rounded conversation.
As we left the restaurant we had lunch in Chuck asked if I wanted to stop in the Mexican bakery next door. The smell was incredible. the baked goods looked delicious, but I realized there was one person in our house who would appreciate them more than anyone and she wasn’t there anymore. I held up fine in the bakery, but as I made the final turn heading home in the car, I just lost it as I pictured Shayna devouring one of those giant cinnamon buns. I had a good cleansing cry. I came in and told Ty I just wanted more than anything to be able to buy sweets for her.
There is no way to avoid the triggers other than crawling in to my bed, drugging myself and never leaving it. So, I choose to lean into them, remembering all the great times I had with her.
The evening comes and Kayla returns from a long day at work. We sit on the couch watching TV. Ty’s mother calls and while she in on the phone with her, I’m just casually talking with Kayla, but we’re discussing Shayna. I can see that the feelings she’s been hiding are starting to surface. I have to be gentle with her letting her express her feelings her own way in her own time. I’ve noticed that more often than not she talks about Shayna in the present tense. I don’t correct her. I can’t share too much without violating Kayla’s privacy, but I think she’ll be OK with me saying that we all three ended up huddled together in tears. It breaks my heart all over again to see the pain, anger, frustration, sadness on the faces of Ty and Kayla. Kayla is not easily assuaged by platitudes. She will call bullshit in a heartbeat. So, I just hold them and we cry together. I tell them we will get through this together. It won’t be easy, but we will do it. It’s not fair she has to face death at the tender age of 18. It’s not fair that her best friend and her sister was snatched away in the middle of the night. It’s not right. But, it is. And we have to go on from here.
In spite of the fact that I feel completely impotent at the moment- there is nothing I can do to take away their pain, no words to make them feel better- this is a good moment. We are dealing with our pain together. I assure Kayla that we both have these moments- sometimes several a day. I share with her how I broke down earlier today and sought out Ty to lean on. I encourage her to lean on us. It’s all I can do for today.