When Shayna was just a few weeks old I won an all expense paid trip to Aruba with Ty. We had to make the choice of passing on the trip or leaving Shayna, at right around two months old, for a week. This was not a difficult choice for me. Many people thought we were crazy to pass up this trip. We had never been to Aruba. I still haven’t. But, I have not regretted that decision even for a moment.
Back when I got panic attacks they most often happened away from home. A lot of panic attack sufferers have a “safe” person or place, something that grounds them and keeps the attacks at bay. One of the things we have to learn is to make ourselves the safe person. For me, that safe place was home. When I would go on a trip, I would count down the days, even the hours until I’d be heading back home. I hated to travel. This is why I hated vacations. On a later trip to Grand Cayman, when Shayna was just under a year old and Kayla was around four, I didn’t sleep for a week. My days were filled with panic attacks and I spent the nights just staring at the ceiling. This was an all expense paid trip to an island paradise with scuba diving during the day and gourmet dinners at night. But, it was torment for me. I just wanted to be home with the girls. I thought I was going crazy. When I finally got back home my system was so screwed up I spent the night in the hospital having cardiac tests run. I was fine as soon as I got a little rest and got back home.
Finally, with Ty and the girls, I learned to enjoy vacations. I realized that home was not a place. If I had the three of them with me, that was home. We took several vacations together and I could make a hotel room or a cabin anywhere in the world home, as long as the three of them were there with me.
This presents a problem now though. I walk just about every day and as I’m coming up the hill to my house, I will often look at it and not recognize it as home anymore. Shayna is somewhere else. Kayla is in Toledo. It’s just Ty and me. Thank God the panic attacks haven’t returned.
As I’m doing all of this studying and reading about the afterlife, there is one thing that I don’t see as often as I would like, that is where does family fit in? There are elaborate descriptions of unbelievable places and scenery. And we can imagine being somewhere and just be there. We can even enjoy activities. There’s usually a mention of meeting family as we cross over and even big parties of reunion, but do we get to stay with them? Many people absolutely loved the book “The Afterlife of Billy Fingers”. Billy becomes a highly ascended being in his afterlife and has some amazing adventures, but he grows more and more faint in his (living) sister’s life and keeps moving into further and further realms as she is here. I must admit when I think of Shayna moving on while I’m stuck here, I don’t want that. I want to be with her and Ty and Kayla again.
All of the wonders that heaven could possibly offer would be nothing without the ones I love to share them with. This was depicted wonderfully in my new favorite movie “What Dreams May Come”. Robin Williams dies and goes to his personal heaven where he can control the environment with just a thought. Anything he wants is at his disposal, but all he can think about is is wife, his son and his daughter. Eventually he finds his daughter and learns his wife is in torment. Does he stay in heaven? Hell no. He risks his own soul to go into hell to retrieve his wife. And if he has to stay there with her, he’ll do just that. That’s just one reason the Christian idea of Hell is so nuts. We’re supposed to believe that a father can be living in bliss while his child or his wife suffers in hell. Home is wherever my family is.