Words are funny things. I’ve always had a fascination with language, the way words sound, the origins of sayings- all that stuff. Since Shayna passed I’ve become particularly sensitive to words. Words like death, when it comes to human beings, are all wrong for the way I view life now. Life never ends, therefore we do not die. We transition, graduate, pass on, but we do not die. It’s not a word I use much anymore. If I do it’s out of force of habit or to make things less awkward for others.
A couple of days ago my cousin sent a message to me about the upcoming family reunion. She asked if we are coming. “Yes. We’ll be there.” I said. She said “We’re looking forward to seeing you.”. Hmmm… I thought. How do I respond to that? I’ve never been much for platitudes, particularly if I don’t mean them. The natural response is “I’m looking forward to seeing you, too.” Had we been face-to-face, I’m sure I would have said that just to end any awkward silence. The truth though Is I’m not looking forward to to the reunion. I don’t look forward to too much these days. It has nothing to do with her personally, but I’m not looking forward to this weekend.
Family events are really tough now. I think about Shayna all the time. Being around family, my parents, my brothers and sister, my brothers’ kids, all remind me that Shayna is not here with us- as she was supposed to be. Seeing other people’s kids, especially those Shayna’s age, going on with their lives still hurts. I know Shayna’s not missing anything. I know Shayna’s moved on and is in a better place. My pain is not for Shayna. My pain is for me. It’s what I’m missing, and that’s her. So, I’ll go to the family reunion for Tywana and for Kayla, but it won’t be easy for me.
They say there is a black sheep in every family. If you think you don’t have one in your family, you’re probably it. I am definitely the black sheep in my family. In my immediate family I’ve always been the “sensitive” one. It’s something I was ashamed of when I was young. Sensitive wasn’t used as a compliment. It meant I was difficult to manage, difficult to understand. Over the years I’ve learned to embrace and appreciate the differences I have. At one time I thought I was born into the wrong family. Nope. I was supposed to have these struggles. I am the way I was supposed to be and I’m not trying to change to please anyone. Shortly after Shayna passed my family came in for the weekend. It was still very raw for me. I was crying most of the time. They had been here to support me for several days immediately after she passed and we shed a lot of tears and a lot of emotions during that time. But, this was later and everybody was back in their assigned roles. I was actually out for a walk when they arrived and they got here sooner than I expected. I wasn’t quite ready, so I went around back and sat for a while to gather myself and have a cry before coming in and putting on my face. We spent several hours together and I had to leave a few times to let out a few tears. No one knew. After they left one of them remarked how it had been a good visit because no one had cried. Uh, not really.
Even in my extended family I can’t think of anyone like me. Maybe they’re out there but they hide it. I don’t know. What I do know is I can’t keep things inside. I put everything I feel into this blog. I know some people are shocked by what they read, but that’s not my concern. The only thing I filter is to respect other people’s privacy. So, when I go to the family reunion, I know there will be people there who have read this and know what I’m feeling. It’ll be awkward, but I’ll get through it.
The other thing about “looking forward” is I’ve learned, and it’s been burned into me in way I can never forget- even for a moment, that we have no clue what the future holds. This can be liberating or it can be terrifying. I choose to let it liberate me. I have a family member who is so worried about an event scheduled for something like two years in the future that it’s causing all kinds of anxiety in his life right now. Now I know this is perfectly normal. It’s how we operate. It’s how I operated most of my life The thing is we have no clue about whether we’re even going to be here in two years (or anyone else). So, why spend today worrying about something that might not even happen? There is a balance between being reckless and trying to live tomorrow today. We have to plan for the future as if it’s going to arrive, because it just might. It probably will. However, worrying about it won’t change it one way or the other. It just assures you that you’ll be miserable today. It’s easier said than done, but it’s actually pretty easy for me right now.