Over the course of the last year and almost a month now, Tywana and I have endured the most challenging time of our lives. It’s been so difficult there are times I still can’t believe it’s for real. We have been together nearly 30 years now, the majority of our adult lives. You do not get through 30 years with someone without major ups and downs. We have been married for 25 years. Marriage takes dedication and hard work. It’s not a feeling that keeps you together, it’s a choice. So far, every day, we have chosen each other. Shayna’s passing though has tested us like we could not have imagined. It hasn’t just tested our marriage, it’s literally tested our survival.
I had a head start on Tywana when it comes to thinking about death. Being phobic about my own death since I was a child forced me to face death head on and about 15 years ago I started to comes to grips with it. I have studied death and the afterlife in detail. Tywana on other hand was like most people. “Why think about something so unpleasant today? That won’t happen to me until I’m old. I’ll think about it then.” Even when we did our financial planning, she didn’t like talking about what would happen to the business or what life insurance we would need when I passed before she did (which I am going to do). The closest person to her to go has been her father and she has an amazing relationship with him, the kind any father would want to have with his daughter. Even so, it was Alzheimer’s that took him. The way Alzheimer’s takes your loved ones, by the time their body shuts down, the person you loved left the building a long time ago. It’s nothing like having your child with you on the vacation of a lifetime one day and three days later you find her not breathing. I truly didn’t know how Tywana would handle it.
From day one, she handled it with courage and strength and head on. Shayna and Kayla would tease Tywana about being a “baby soul” (as opposed to them who are old souls”). If she is a baby soul, she’s done a lot of growing up on this trip around. This has been one tough assignment.
Some of Tywana’s coping mechanisms include exercising on a regular basis, a great support group of friends, grief groups, reading, Podcasts and even meditation which she hadn’t done before. We read some of the same books and we are in some of the same groups, but we have different preferences. She prefers books on grief coping- books about how to grieve. I prefer books on metaphysics, the nature of the afterlife, after death communications. However, she has really stretched herself to read things she would not have been comfortable with or even bothered with before. Simply grieving what we have lost doesn’t work for either of us. We need hope. And, to have hope, you have to have something real to look forward to.
In just a few weeks now we will be hosting a support group for parents who have had children transition. It was my idea, but Tywana has been enthusiastic about pitching in and I’m hopeful it will be help for both of us.
I don’t believe in coincidences or accidents. When I look back on the path that led me to this point in my life, all the twists and turns things that I can imagine could have gone differently, I realize they were all necessary to bring me to the point of having my life partners- Tywana, Kayla and Shayna. It could have been no other way and I grateful for the crew I have for this mission.
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