It’s rapidly approaching the end of March. Spring has officially sprung and, for Ohio, we’ve had an early Spring. The flowers are blooming, the birds are coming back, even the grass is growing, but in our house, things are going the other way.
Grief comes in phases, waves and spirals. When you think you have passed one of the phases, it circles back around and presents itself to you in another way. I thought I had accepted Shayna’s passing many months ago. I remember being shocked the moment a friend of mine, a former pastor, said it could take up to two years to reach acceptance. I thought “Well, I’ll beat that. I’m just about there already.” No. There is intellectually knowing that something is true and there is truly accepting it and they can be two very different things. We think we’ve accepted something only to find out later, we haven’t really.
I’m very pleased, amazed and proud of the way both Ty and I have made it this far, but it doesn’t mean there haven’t been challenges and there aren’t challenges ahead. It was difficult enough adjusting to life without Kayla. Kayla and Shayna together were the light of our house. Even though Shayna was the one who did most of the cutting up, it was the magical combination of the two of them that really brought things to life. When Kayla went to college a year and a half ago, it was a major adjustment for the three of us. Shayna leaving us so suddenly has been impossible to adjust to, at least to this point.
I’ve been with Ty for 29 years now. I’ve been with her through ups and downs for both of us, but nothing like this. I’ve seen her go through the slow loss of her father and finally having to let go. I’ve seen her going through the slow loss of her mother. She has seen me go through my battles with depression and anxiety. We have always been there for each other; neither of us completely down while the other one was also. This is totally new territory though. Being there for each other is difficult when we can barely manage to be there for ourselves.
Both of us have been hitting the books hard, studying as much as we can. Ty has turned to meditation and prayer. I can see her transforming into a much more contemplative person, something I frankly never thought I would see in her because it’s just not who she is- or so I thought. She is studying subjects she never had bit of interest in because it’s become necessary for her survival and she is a survivor.
So many changes at once are difficult to process. We’ve gone from full calendars to barely anything on the calendar for days at a time. Just yesterday Ty said she would have to find something to do today to get out of the house. She needs social interaction to thrive. Dinner times were always special for the four of us. Dinner was tough enough to plan for three of us. Now that it’s just two of us, neither of us feels like planning or making dinner most nights. There has been a lot of eating out and prepared foods. When I say we need to get back to planning meals, I get a shrug from her. There’s just not a lot of interest in that right now. Normally, I would be getting impatient at this point, trying to fix her, trying to get her back to “normal”. However, at least this time around in this cycle of life, I’ve got enough wisdom to know I can’t fix everything. Some things we just have to let be and get through. There are times when I just have to accept what is for now and wait it out.
As the world around us blooms, the animals and nature come to life, I feel both of us turning inward in a kind of reverse Spring. After this many years and being an empath anyway I’ve learned to sense Ty’s moods. I can’t tell what she is thinking, but I’m pretty good at telling what she is feeling. I’ve always been the fixer, but I know there is only so much I can do as a human being. I know there is only so much she can do. Both of us are doers though. Ty’s frustrated that life isn’t fun anymore. She doesn’t want to just go through the motions for the rest of her life. I don’t blame her. But, for me I guess part of acceptance is accepting that things will never be the same again. This is the season of life that’s going to be tough.
My parents are pushing 80. Ty’s mother is dealing with dementia which never gets better, only worse and with knees wracked with arthritis. She’s not happy where she’s living, but she can’t live anywhere else. Zoe is 11 years old. Every morning when she raises her head, we’re glad to have her for another day, but we know that won’t last. We’ve got some hard days coming and there’s no way around that. I think that’s weighing heavily on both of us as our bubble of the illusion of safety and stability has been popped and we face the fragility of life on planet Earth and are learning to hold loosely onto what we have here and to focus on the things that actually last.
The key for me right now is to not try to project too far into the future. Neither of us wants to live like this, but it is what it is. Neither of us is, by nature, patient people. We push through. If we don’t like something, we change it. We worry if it this way now, what if it’s this way forever. I know I can’t do that now and in fact that is counterproductive. I just have to trust and lean into this and take it one day at a time.