We wake up in the beautiful home of our friends, the Mins. Kevin, Julie, Carson and Brody (their sons) and Lucy, their dog have welcomed us into their home in Parker, CO at about 6,000 feet surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. After being in a fog the day we arrived my headache has gone and I’m feeling pretty good. Today we take a drive up about 3,000 feet into the mountains (up to 9,000 feet) to observe the changing leaves of the Aspen trees, do some shopping in Boulder and have dinner. Over the course of the next three days, Julie and Kevin will treat us to marvelous meals, a smorgasbord of bourbons and great conversation. Being around Carson and Brody (13 and 9 years old) takes me back. They are smart, sensitive boys, bright and inquisitive. They are all into this fantasy world called “Hammies” They have created stories and a whole world. They remind me of Kayla and Shayna at that age. They are full of energy and it’s great to spend time in a lively house. There can be a hint of jealousy being around in tact families with kids now, but I remind myself that we had our time and how amazing it was. Kevin is six years younger than I am and his kids are six years younger than mine. In five or six more years he’ll be facing empty nest syndrome starting. We all do.
Kevin and I stay up late talking about the things we have always talked about- life, love, family, is this all there is, why we are here, you know- small talk. We think back on our conversations from nearly 20 years ago when we first met and I was coming out of fundamentalism and Kevin was close to an atheist. We’ve both come a long, long way. The thing is though even when we were far apart in our views we never debated. That’s why conversations with Kevin are great. It’s not about being right or wrong. The verse “Come let us reason together.” comes to mind when I think about our talks. It’s always been about learning, exploring, growing. I think we both come away better for having had them.
Everyone should have friends like the Mins. Julie is a wonderful hostess. I have never lived in the same city as Kevin so we haven’t spent much time with Julie. Only on vacations. Ty and Julie have an amazing time though. They find they have a lot in common. Kevin has reached out to me nearly every day since Shayna passed, often multiple times a day. He only has backed off because I asked him to because I was sick of complaining about the same things twice a day. He’s a great listener, but he doesn’t just agree for the sake of agreeing. He challenges me when I need to be challenged, which is often.
Getting away is good, but you can never really get away. Being in a different environment means we don’t think of Shayna as often. The distractions help, but inevitably thoughts turn to Shayna. As I come to bed on Monday night, Ty looks at me crying and asks how are we going to make it through this next year. Sometimes she just misses Shayna so much it seems unbearable. Well, yeah. Me too. In fact, I sat with Kevin just a few minutes ago and cried my eyes out saying the same thing. Not just the next year, the next years… Can I live in a world without one of my children? Do I even want to? Right now the answer is “no”. I don’t want to. I guess the goal is to get to the point where I do. For now it’s just one foot in front of the other.
Wednesday, we are up at o’dark thirty again. Kevin drives us to the airport and we board the plane headed back to fall in Ohio (yuck). it’s gray and rainy. This is going to be a really rough one.