A couple of days ago I get a call from a loved one. People are worried about me. It’s been nearly three years since Shayna passed. Am I any better? “How is Brian doing?” people ask. “When will he get over this?” The answer is one they don’t want to hear. So, when asked that question, depending on the person, the day, my mood, our relationship, they’ll get different answers. But, the honest truth is my life will never be the same. Never. When you have a child go Home before you, you don’t get “better” in three days, three months, three years, or three decades.
For us Shining Light Parents, every day is a fight for survival. A parent recently asked, in our group of over 2,500 parents, if anyone else feels this way and the answers, while varied and with many nuances, was a resounding yes. Some of us struggle more than others. Some are better at putting on a brave face than others. Some have learned to embrace the joy of life even in the midst of the pain, but the longing for our child never diminishes and being without them is never easy.
The problem is when we tell those on the outside how we feel, they either intentionally or unintentionally make us feel guilty. They want us to be better. They take our struggle personally. They ask “Am I not enough to make you want to stay here?” Our spouses, our other children, our parents, our friends. They all want to be enough for us, as if it’s a contest, an A or B choice. We should be happy being with them as opposed to being with our children. “Would you rather be with me or with your child?” I choose both. . Give me option C
But, we can’t choose both. We have to learn to have a new relationship with our child now in spirit. We have to learn to live without their hugs, seeing them hit their milestones, without their smiles. We have to tune into that next world to get there. None of this is easy. It’s hard, grueling, exhausting work. It’s like swimming upstream every single day. And then, as we get tuned in, we are reminded of Home. We begin to awaken from the slumber of this world. We remember how wonderful it is back there. And, you know what? We get homesick.
Back when I was a Christian, there was something I never understood. If Christians really believe Heaven is so great, so wonderful, how come no one wants to go there? All you have to do is die. But, no one wanted to die. They all want to live as long as possible. As a society, we spend thousands of dollars on end of life care, keeping hollowed out shells alive in hospital beds to take a few more breaths because anything, anything is better than “death”. We mourn at the funerals of people in their 90s. I heard this morning that Billy Graham has made his transition and people are sad. Really? You’re sad. Billy was 99. I say “Well done, Billy. Good for you!” and I say “Dear Lord, don’t make me stay here for 40 more years.”
But, it’s morose to long for Home. It’s wrong to long for death because death is the end. Death is an enemy to be overcome. That’s what the world tells us. Well, once you wake up from the illusion of this world, which a child in the next world will do to you, you realize death is not the end, but the beginning. Death is not the enemy, not something to be feared. To die is to go Home.
So, we live here stuck between two worlds. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to leave my wife or Kayla or my parents, or my friends. I had a dream the other night in which I was in a group being attacked. Armed men stormed into the room and shot the man next to me. I feared for my life. An elder who was in the room shouted out “This is your chance. This is your escape. Step forward and free yourself from this world. Do it now. They are only taking two.” But, I didn’t. I ran away. I had the choice and I chose to stay. The survival instinct is strong. My commitment to my mission is strong. I don’t want to put others through mourning for me, right now. But… I know this isn’t forever. And for that, I am grateful. I count off the days. Today is day 973. 973 less than whatever the number is. I make the most of each day I have here. I do my absolute best to be the best I can be. And I know that in a “little while”, we’ll all be back Home together.