Today is Tywana’s birthday. Kayla got back from Spain two days ago and we’re going to pick her up in Toledo today because we Tywana and I are both busy for the next few days. Plus, it’s Tywana’s birthday and what better present than to see Kayla after a month of her being abroad?
Six hours in the car later and we’re back at home. Kayla has brought presents for everyone. So, she presents us with the presents she has gotten for us. She’s so thoughtful. She bought our presents early in the trip and it was killing her to not be able to give them to us or tell us about them. She’s even brought a snow globe for Shayna’s collection. The snow globe comes with a story. Tywana wasn’t there to help Kayla pack, so frankly, we were worried about what she’d forget and if she could get everything she needed to get in her bags back in her bags. Her suitcases barely closed on the way over. Of course, Kayla waited until the last minute to pack and things were not fitting. So, she got to the point where whatever went, wherever. She forgot about the liquids rule that says you can’t bring more than 3 ounces of liquids in a carry on. So, the snow globe goes into her carry on and she’s off to the Madrid airport. After she checked her bags and was waiting to board, it hit her. Shayna’s snow globe was in her carry on. There was no way she was getting that through security, not once, but twice. She just knew it was going to be confiscated. Kayla was devastated, nearly in tears. Somehow though, that snow globe made it through security in Madrid and security in Philadelphia and now sits on the shelf in Shayna’s room. I’m not sure if it was in Philly or Madrid, but a security agent asked Kayla if there was liquid in it and Kayla lied and said “No”. The agent believed her and let her keep it. I’m reminded of Alec Guinness in Star Wars “These are not the droids you are looking for.” Shayna must have done some serious Jedi mind magic on that dude.
After we get home, we grab a quick dinner (we have got to start cooking at home again). Six hours in the car doesn’t leave a lot of time for meal preparation. Tonight is our Helping Parents Heal Online meeting. Suzanne Giesemann is presenting and I am co-hosting. I’ve had no time to prepare anything. It’ll be winging it tonight. Tracy does the introductions. My job is to field, screen, and read the questions to Suzanne.
As the questions are coming in, I’m thinking this is my opportunity to ask a question myself. The questions are heavy. The questions are complex. We’re grieving parents. Some of us have been on this journey for a long time. No one is throwing Suzanne any softballs. As we’re asking the questions, I’m trying to come up with one and I simply don’t have a question for her. I don’t wonder what Shayna does all day or if she gets to eat ice cream (I suspect she has had a lot of ice cream). I know Shayna is with us. I’m not worried that I’ll get there and she’ll be reincarnated and they’ll say “Oh sorry. You just missed her. She’ll be back in about 80 years.”.
My only question is this. How do I live the rest of the time between here and there? And it’s a question only I can answer. For the first several days/weeks/months I just wanted to die. I wanted this over, now. Then, I got to the point where I saw it as a marathon. It’s a matter of endurance. It’s not going to be pleasant, it might be long, but keep your head down and take one step at at time. I noticed other parents on this journey seemed to find joy in their lives. Suzanne used a clever line last night. She said “We know there is life after death. But, I’m not talking about life on the other side for those who have crossed. There is life for us, right here, right now, after they have crossed.” That is the hard part for me. That still doesn’t resonate with me. Grief is proportional to love. The more we love, the more we are going to grieve. When I would see parents who seemed over their grief, I would think they must not have loved the way I love Shayna. I will never get over this. I never want to get over this. My sadness, my grief, was a way of honoring her, of holding onto her. It was my duty to carry this burden with me until the “end”. To have joy again would be to dishonor her.
Now I don’t know. I know other parents have had these same feelings and I know people like Tom Zuba love their kids as much as I love Shayna. Tom’s had two children and a wife pass and he seems to love life again. I’ve yet to find the secret to doing this. I’m enduring it. I’m crossing the days off of the calendar. But, I’m sure not loving it. Will I get there? I don’t know. The first step I guess would be wanting to get there and I’m not sure I want to. That is a question I must wrestle with alone.