Today is Friday the 13th. Last night was the full moon, known as the Full Wolf Moon. But, most significantly, today is Shayna’s 17th birthday. For some reason, there are two birthday reminders for Shayna on my calendar so, all week I’ve been reminded twice. I got notices yesterday that her birthday was coming up. Why is a day that used to be so full of hope and promise now one of the days I dread most each year. This week has been really tough for both Tywana and me. It’s a combination of the weather, financial stress, the grief we’ve been dealing with for a year and a half and another milestone to remind us that we’re missing Shayna.
At this time 17 years ago, we were at Good Samaritan Hospital and they were just about to start the drip to induce labor. Little did we know what a roller coaster ride that day would be. Shayna would put Tywana through 14 hours of labor. Shayna’s heart rate kept dropping dangerously low. As I took my run this morning, I reflected back to that day. Was there something wrong with her heart even then? Should we have found out then that she had a heart defect? Did I let her down by not finding out? All I could think that day was “Get her out.” And two days later, we took home a healthy, spunky baby girl. I was so grateful to have her. There was no way to know that we’d only have her 15-½ years.
On days like today, it’s hard not to think of what could or would have been. This would be Shayna’s last birthday as a minor. Had she stayed a grade ahead instead of staying back to be with her friends, it’d be her senior year and we’d be empty nesters in the fall. I’m sure we’d be butting heads regularly about her taking the car and going out with her friends. She’d be dating. She’d be a handful, but I’d give anything to have to deal with that.
So, today is another day of reflection. Tywana is spending the day our with friend. I’m glad. She needs to get out of the house. It’ll keep her mind on something else. I don’t have many friends and probably no one who knew Shayna’s birthday is today. I’ll find a way to pass the hours. Just like Thanksgiving, Christmas and all of those other days that I used to look forward to and now I dread, I need to keep this day in perspective. It’s not a magical day just because of what the calendar says. It’s no easier or more difficult than any other day. It’s just another 24 hour period that I need to get through. Each day, each hour, each minute that passes is a victory. My job is to crush the days that stretch out in front of me. I’ll crush today just like I crushed yesterday and will crush tomorrow.