Woke up sobbing as usual today. A cry first thing in the morning is the new normal. This time it was the realization that Shayna would become a “memory”. I don’ t want her to be a memory. Healing feels like letting her go. I can’t let go. I need to hold onto this pain to honor her. I need to hold onto this pain to keep her close. The pain, in an odd way is a comfort to me. It means she isn’t gone.
These next days are going to be especially tough. I should be planning her graduation (in three years) and I am planning the celebration of her life- the final celebration of her life. I want to get it right.
First we meet with the Bereavement Coordinator at the church. We will use the chapel there for her services. Pro-tip- do any and all services on the same day. You do not want to have to be up for meeting and greeting people two days in a row. We have decided on a one hour family visitation, a two hour public visitation and a one hour celebration. And it will be a celebration. We planned every detail the way we thought Shayna would like it. I, of course bawled like a baby several times as each phase of this process drives the reality home even deeper.
Next, it was off to meet the pastor who would officiate. He is a close personal friend that we have know most of Shayna’s life. We wanted someone who knew Shayna to do this. Bill is no longer an acting pastor, but he agreed to officiate. If I thought I could have done it without bursting into uncontrollable sobbing , I would have done it myself. Bill wanted to get a sketch of Shayna’s life beyond what he knows. I had typed up a little something. Six pages of single spaced 10 point type. Yeah, the girl only lived 15 years here, but she packed a lot in. Bill said “Do you want me to use this or take from it?” I realized no one wanted to listen to everything I had written, but to truly know Shayna, you have to know her whole story. I gave him permission to use excerpts. More tears there.
Then it was back home to work on the video for the ceremony. We have over 2,000 pictures of Shayna. We love to look through old photos of all the great times we have had. I took 200 or so and set about to choose the music. My family is deeply religious and I knew their expectations would hymns. But this was Shayna’s celebration and we were going to play Shayna’s music. Normally, I enjoy putting these together for birthdays and graduation. This time was torture. While I enjoyed looking through the years again as I got into the last two or three years now I knew her time was short.
Last meeting of the day, back at the funeral home. This was supposed to be easy dropping off stuff for The display of Shayna’s body. But, wait. What’s this? They tell me I have to sign the form to give permission to cremate her. The form has several places to initial and a place for a final signature. It was like signing a mortgage in form, but it felt like they should have just handed me a match and some gasoline and asked me to burn her. When I was done, I was spent. I slammed the pen to the table, out my head down and cried.
I composed myself long enough to walk out the door and cried again.
This was the worst day yet.