My thought for today is one that comes to me as I’m coming out of the sleep realms. They are ethereal when they come to me and if I don’t get them down quickly, they blow away like a mist. I’m trying to form it into words now. Part of it is already gone as the more awake I become the harder they are to recall. Yet, when I get them, they are not fully formed.
Yesterday I attended the surprise birthday party of an old friend. Her husband put it on for her. He did it up right. Rented a hall. Hired a band. He even wrote and performed three songs for her. It was a real celebration. There were a lot of old friends there. We danced. There was a photo booth. I’ve known this couple for well over a decade now. They’ve been married I believe it’s 23 years. You don’t stay married 23 years without going through your share of shit and I know they’ve been through their share. I think that’s one of the things that made the event so special for everyone. We know what it takes to get to this point in life and in a marriage. They deserved to celebrate and we were happy to be there for them.
During the party, I was talking to someone I’ve known for a while. She was telling me about issues she is having. One of them was her kid going off to college. She told me she thinks about me when she gets sad. She knows he’s coming back home and she knows I have to deal with the fact Shayna is not coming back. Yeah. Pretty much not the same thing. We know a lot of first-time college parents this year and while I feel your pain (I cried like a baby when Kayla graduated from high school) it’s not quite the same thing as having one of your children not with you ever again in this life. I empathized with her about what she is going through because it’s all relative. Whatever it is we are going through it’s bad for us. Whether it’s as bad as what someone else is going through is irrelevant.
I put on my party face last night. It wasn’t easy. I had it on just a week ago for the impromptu party we had at our house. I didn’t feel like dancing. Tywana and I did have one dance last night. She was on the dance floor with her friends for a while. They were all smiles. Good for them.
Our friends have two girls who are about Kayla and Shayna’s ages. They were both there. The husband made a speech. The wife made a speech. Her good friend made a speech. During all of the joy they were all expressing about being together, being a happy family, being intact, having made it, I just wanted to get up and run from the room and be anywhere but there. It’s not that I wasn’t happy for them. I was. I was missing what I had, what I feel I’m supposed to have. I wanted to go home. No, I wanted to go, Home. I had to tell myself “This isn’t about you. This is about them.” So, I sat and I smiled through it. I am genuinely and completely happy for them. We do these things for others sometimes, even when we don’t feel like it.
Yesterday, Tywana and I were out doing some shopping. We drove past the high school where Shayna should be in her second year now. Tywana mentioned that driving by it gives her a weird feeling. I thought I was the only one. I will actually avoid driving by it many times, driving around it because it reminds me. 14 months into this, there are still times when we both think “Did this really happen? Are we really living this?” Shayna was taken so suddenly it doesn’t seem possible that it’s real. I’ll be sitting watching a movie and in the back of my mind, it’ll be like it was 14 months ago, Kayla’s out, Tywana’s out, Shayna’s out. Only Shayna isn’t coming home anymore.
I was reflecting on Shayna’s life this morning. We had two perfectly healthy girls for years. When Shayna started showing signs of arthritis, we had absolutely no clue what it was. Her fingers were hurting all the time. Her wrists started hurting. We thought it was from basketball. Then, maybe a strange virus. Rheumatoid arthritis never crossed our minds. Then, it was the heart thing. Then it was the ACL, twice. Through all of that, Shayna hardly ever complained. I remember her crying about the arthritis once- the day we got the diagnosis. And I think she cried because she really didn’t understand it and she saw Tywana crying and me fighting back tears. Shayna accepted whatever life threw at her chalking it all up to life experiences. When I get down, I think about Shayna and her bravery and the example she set for me. Take it as it comes and keep moving forward.
Diamonds are formed deep in the Earth. They are formed when carbon is compressed by unimaginable pressures and heat. They are formed 90-120 miles below the Earth’s surface at temperatures of 1600-2000º F. The conditions it takes to form a diamond are extreme. If you want to get a diamond, the carbon has to be put through pressure and heat that, if I didn’t know better, I would think would obliterate it. Yet, the carbon, instead of succumbing to the forces, undergoes a metamorphosis that creates one of the most beautiful things on Earth. We are not made of carbon. Our bodies are made of blood and flesh. Relationships that are tested and endure are the ones we celebrate, the ones that are special. People who go through Hell and come out on the other side are the ones who are strongest. I’m in the heat and pressure. I’ve made it through another day. I am one day closer to completion of the blood diamond.