When Shayna passed, suddenly and unexpectedly, Ty and I knew we could not get through this alone. I reached out to two counseling services. Today was my second appointment with one of them. I had seen him two weeks ago and was looking forward to getting back in. The thing is there are times when I feel fine. I got this. I can handle this. Then, there are times when I think I can’t make it one more day. I have to reach out to someone. The counselors have both told me to call whenever I need them, but I know there is only so much they can do. I pretty much know what they are going to say. So, I weather the storm and soldier on. Still, I have kept this appointment on the calendar because knowing I’m going to talk to a professional brings me some peace. When I would get overwhelmed, I’d think “I’ve got that appointment on Friday. I can make it till then.”
As I drive over, I notice it’s a beautiful day. I turn on the radio. This is a big deal because I haven’t listened to music, other than a few selected songs, in over a month. Earlier this week I discovered the most recent Evanescence album and it’s all I’ve been listening to. But, yesterday in the car, Kayla turned the radio on and I didn’t have the heart to tell her I can’t stand listening to music right now. Today it just feels right. An Eagles song comes on and it takes me back to my college days. The sun is brilliant, I’m feeling like I did in college. I feel good. Then it hits me. This can’t be a good day. There are no good days when Shayna isn’t here. And I’m transported back to reality, back to 2015 post 06/24/15 when music can’t lift my spirits anymore.
I arrive at the counselors office. It’s a really peaceful setting where I can sit and look out the window at a beautiful fountain and a little garden area. I start to feel at peace again. Then, I think of why I’m here- my daughter is dead- and I cry.
The counselor comes out. We go into his office. I ask him how his week has been. He’s hesitant. “It’s been….. OK….” he says “Yeah… OK.” I say “OK, but not great.” He’s reluctant to share, but I can only imagine doing his job has got to be really draining by 2 o’clock on a Friday. Things turn to me. He asks how I’ve been doing. I do an 1-¼ dump on him. The thing about the counselors I’ve seen is they mostly just listen. Unless you’re suicidal, they don’t really offer much criticism. They may offer a little encouragement. There’s a lot of nodding and “um-hmm” What I’m looking for is validation. Validation my expectations are reasonable. Validation that I’m not in denial about the reality of my situation. Validation that I’m doing everything I can do. He agrees with all that. He says the only caution he sees for me is maybe over doing things. I am a man on a mission and it shows in my dump to him. I explain to him my analytical mind has to have a problem to work on and if I don’t have a problem I’ll make one up. So, this isn’t really working overtime for me. This is just who I am.
So, now it’s decision time. He says we can schedule another appointment for “a few weeks out” or I can just leave and call him if I need him. For the first time today (in his office that is) I break down. I tell him I’ve been coming because this truly terrifies me. This is the first time in a very, very long time I’ve been this afraid of anything. And, as an analytical person, as an engineer, as someone always seeking the “right” answer I thought when something like this happens you seek the help of a professional- someone to tell you how it’s done. After two sessions I’ve realized there is no one right answer. There is no path anyone else can offer me. This is something I have to do on my own. I thank him for his service and tell him that I think it’s time for me to find my own way. I walk out feeling a little empowered and a lot afraid.