Last night I attended a Christian men’s group with a friend of mine, for the second time. The group is called “Thoughts On The Rocks”, a clever name since they gather monthly over drinks to have deep conversations, as deep as you can have with people who are largely strangers. The group is made up mostly of middle-aged, white evangelicals who are mostly successful at business. It’s not exactly my demographic, but I’ve enjoyed both of my visits. The first time I attended was around Thanksgiving. The leader of the group throws out questions for discussion and we talk about them in our groups at the table, 4-5 guys at each table. The first one was a struggle for me because it was, of course, about giving thanks. This one, I knew would also be a bit of a challenge since the topic was the new year and how we could make it better. I didn’t want to come across as a nihilist, but I’m not so much focused on “success” anymore either professional or personal. My professional goal is for our business to provide a living for us. My personal goal is to just get a little better every day. The question “Where do you want to be at this time next year?” holds no meaning for me.
I got through the questions while having a couple of beers and some appetizers. Of course, we all ask about each others’ families. I told them about Kayla, but I didn’t bring up Shayna. One guy then asked if Kayla is an only child. My buddy and his son, at the table with me, know about Shayna, but I didn’t want to get into it, so I answered in the affirmative, that Kayla is an only child. It felt a bit like a lie, but sometimes it’s just easier for everyone to keep things simple. Later, when we were talking about where we want to be next year at this time, I had to bring up the fact that my whole perspective on “Next year at this time…” has shifted because of Shayna’s passing. I kept it short and simple. No one asked any questions. I didn’t volunteer any more information.
On the way home, I passed a spot that reminded me of trips back and forth to Children’s Hospital with Shayna. I broke into tears missing her, wondering what we’d be doing if she were here, and just generally thinking about how my life has changed in the last 18 months or so. There are times when I miss her so much I can barely stand it. This was one of those times.
When I got home, the National Championship football game was on. I have no interest in either Clemson or Alabama and since I always root for the underdog unless one of my teams is playing, I fully expected to be disappointed in the outcome. I decided to watch until I got tired, then turn in. It turned out to be a great game. Clemson even pulled out a victory in the end.
When I turned off the TV, I got onto Facebook. That’s when I saw that my Aunt Carol, who went into hospice just a few weeks ago, had made her transition. My cousin had posted it on Facebook. My heart goes out to my cousins, her sons, and daughters. My Uncle Walter, her husband, preceded her in transition a few years ago. They are left with no parents here. I know that day is coming for me, as it comes for all of us. In my family, at this time in our lives, we’re experiencing more going out than coming in, more deaths than births. It’s the season we’re in.
I have to say though that my thoughts go to my Aunt Carol, who is Home. I think of her reunion with Uncle Walter. I think of the joy and peace she is feeling after having graduated from Earth school. And, my heart is lifted a bit because when I mourn Shayna the way I was earlier tonight, it’s because I’ve lost that Hope of Heaven. It’s because I have, for a time, stopped believing first and foremost, that nothing can keep me apart from Shayna forever. Every day, every moment is one step closer.