It’s come. The day I have dreaded has arrived. Kayla starts classes on Monday so it’s time to take her back to school for the coming year. One blessing of Shayna’s passing is it happened during summer break while we could draw Kayla close to us, love on her as much as possible, get her into counseling and try to prepare her for going back to college dealing with what we all have to deal with now. She’s probably relieved to get away from all the lectures and questions we’ve been giving her, but we wanted to drill into her head that she has a lot of safety nets and tools and she should not be ashamed to use them.
It’s a particularly tearful day for me. I figure maybe I can get all of the tears out before the drive up. I cry on my walk. I come home and I cry some more. Ty and I listen to a grief Podcast on the way up. There are several musical interludes during the guy’s talk. Each time leaves a blank space that my mind fills in with thoughts of Shayna. I try to push them away by thinking Shayna wouldn’t be with us today anyway. She would be in school, but that doesn’t work. It seems like only yesterday we were taking Kayla up to school for the first time, Shayna along with us bouncing off of the walls like she always does, arranging Kayla’s clothes in her wardrobe, giving her opinion on everything. My solace in leaving Kayla was at least I still had Shayna coming home with me. This year we are returning to an empty nest.
Kayla’s roommate is a wonderful girl that Kayla has become fast friends with. She is already familiar with Shayna’s death and she and her little sister have even spent time with Kayla and Shayna. We’re hopeful that she will help Kayla through this year. Her entire family is there to move her in, mother, sister, father, grandfather, grandmother. Her little sister is acting just like Shayna talking about her sister’s fashion sense, putting her clothes in her closet, giving her opinion on everything. More wishes that Shayna could be with us. But, I bite back the tears.
Finally, after a trip to Costco it’s time to leave Kayla. I can’ help tearing up. There are too many emotions to hold back. There are too many things swirling through my head as I hug her tight, not wanting to let go and step away to leave. Ty and I both have good cries in the car on the way back. The reality of our new lives, the stark contrast is coming into full view. We discuss how we are going to do dinners for two now, how we’ll fill our time, the energy level in the house as it’s largely empty now.
I tell her I’m ambivalent about life now. So often I just don’t want to live here anymore. It’s a feeling I had a lot before having a family, but it’s been gone for a long time. The pain of this world is too great and now there is the pull of Shayna on the other side. On the other hand, Kayla and Ty need me and I signed up for this. i have no desire to leave them. I want to see Kayla grow and thrive and have an amazing life. We assure each other that things can and will get better. People tell us this is true. Other people have survived this and worse. But, I tell her I don’t want to just hang on just wait out my days. Even though I have no desire to live a long life, I don’t want to just go through the motions. If I have to be here I want to make the best of the time. We tell each other we have to be patient. The pain at times seems unbearable. At other times the situation is just surreal. We keep telling ourselves Shayna is at home waiting for us or is at a sleepover. Then the reality hits like a punch in the gut again. They tell us this will go away, the pain will deaden. The grief waves will come spaced farther and farther apart. The goal for today is survival. Healing will come later. For now, it’s stopping the bleeding.