Well, it’s finally here. June 24th, one year to the day since Shayna passed. Today, the weather is very much like it was that day, warm, kind of overcast. I had gotten up and gone for a walk. I came back and was sitting in my office, just like I am now, when I heard Tywana scream from upstairs, the scream that marked the end of life as we had both known it.
If you would have asked me that day at the hospital or any day between then and now if I would still be alive one year later, I would have answered with a definite no. There would be no way I could go on without Shayna, no way I’d want to go without Shayna. And I have not gone on without her.
Thankfully, for us, we were blessed with amazing friends and just the right support systems have fallen into place for us. I was well aware of NDEs, and I had no doubt that life continues after death. Not for a moment have I thought Shayna is “gone”. When I looked at her on that gurney in the hospital, I knew her spirit had left her body, and I had to say goodbye to her body, but I knew Shayna was still alive and well. I didn’t know at the time how the departed aren’t so departed. They are right here with us. Over the last year, Shayna has let us know in ways big and small that she is not gone and will not be forgotten.
On Sunday, our pastor brought up Galatians Chapter 6, which goes, in part, like this.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load
On the surface, it might appear as though the first line contradicts the last line. “Carry each other’s burdens,” but “…each one should carry their own load.” What Kathy told us is (for once) the translators got it right when they chose different words “burdens” in the first case and “load” in the second case. A burden is a large weight, a load that would crush a man. It cannot be handled by one man alone. A load is an amount that would fit into a backpack. Boy, have we seen this play out over the last year. Friends and family gathered around us like we could not have imagined. And, Shayna’s passing is a burden, not a load. There is no way we could have carried this weight alone.
On the other hand, there is only so much people can take from us. Even the three of us, Kayla, Tywana, and I- at the end of the day, each of us has to deal with this individually. We share resources. We cry together. We talk to each other. But, the way this world works is ultimately, the illusion of separation is so strong we cannot pierce it while we are in the flesh. We know that ultimately we are One, but that’s not how we experience this world.
The support from friends has turned up this week. I’m amazed by how many people remembered the day was coming up. Phone calls started coming in on Tuesday. Who remembers the date of the passing of someone else’s child? People have told us they have kept the program from Shayna’s Life Celebration. Some look at it every day. We saw neighbors putting up fresh purple ribbons yesterday. It’s been a year. Some are fading. I wondered when someone would take them down, and people would move on, but Shayna continues on strong.
I got up early this morning. When I went into the bathroom, Zoe was laying on the floor. When it’s hot, she moves from her bed to the cool tile. Zoe’s 11 now, and I’m just waiting for the bad news that she’s leaving us. She’s been the best dog anyone has ever had. As I walk into the bathroom, she often will not move a muscle. She just lays there like she’s dead. I always look at her until I see some movement, a breath, maybe her opening an eye. I look down at her. Her eyes are open. Oh my God, I think. Not on the same day that Shayna died. I walk over to her. Nothing. Not a blink. Then finally. She blinks. She doesn’t move. Just blinks and looks at me with one eye, not moving another muscle. Whew! One more day.
This morning on my walk, I saw a fox run across the road. I’m not sure I’ve seen a fox in the 19 years I’ve lived here. I might have glimpsed one once or something I thought was a fox. This one I saw come up from my left, cross the road in front of me and continue off to my right, clear as day, a red fox with a white tip on his tail. I listened to Evanescence, an album I discovered a few weeks after Shayna’s passing. Amy Lee’s haunting lyrics helped get me through those first days, and they hit me just as profoundly now as they did then. Shayna, I’m still counting the days to see you on the other side… and today, there are 365 fewer of them separating you and me.