Today is one year since Shayna’s Life Celebration. Facebook was kind enough to remind me with a video a friend took of the balloon release part of that day. Seeing Tywana, Kayla, and me standing there brings me right back to that day. I have a terrible memory, but the emotions of that day have seared it into a place where I don’t think it will ever leave. I think it was Lori, the funeral director, who suggested the balloon release at the last minute. She got the balloons and had them ready for us. I remember holding the string and saying the words I said and thinking, “It’s time to let go now. All of these people are watching.” My fingers let go, but I knew I wasn’t letting go.
One of my big fears over the last year has been forgetting Shayna. One of the reasons I have not wanted to go on living is everyday memories fade. We cannot rely on these brains to reliably bring things back to us. Watching my father-in-law slowly disappear due to Alzheimer’s and my mother-in-law going through the same thing, I now know how precious and fleeting memories can be. I don’t want to outlive my memories of Shayna. Every day, I make a conscious effort to try to recall her voice, her mannerisms, the beauty mark on her lip, the way she teased, and her joie de vivre I bring back as much as I can, trying to reinforce wherever those memories are stored, so they don’t fade away. I’ve tattooed her name onto my body so I will have a constant reminder of her every single day, no matter what.
One year after her passing, I can say that while memories may fade, my love for her has not, not even a little bit. I think about her all of the time. I envision her by my side as I walk, meditate, or work in my office. A few years ago, she would have sat right behind me in my chair as I worked, playing with my ears. I imagine her here doing that right now. One year in, I’ve kept the memories alive, and the love has grown only stronger.