Shayna Elayne Smith is her name. Shayna is Hebrew for Beautiful. Elayne means light. Shayna was named Beautiful Light and that is precisely what she was while on Earth. Shayna was given to us on January 13, 2000 and taken from us suddenly on June 24, 2015. She passed peacefully in her sleep in her bed, but it was not supposed to happen. She went to bed a happy, healthy 15 year old girl looking forward to her sophomore year of high school and her second season of her the second sport she was mastering, volleyball, and she did not wake up.
My wife Ty and her sister Kayla and I are completely and utterly devastated by the loss of the light of our lives. Shayna was the spice in our family. She was the baby and she loved it. Shayna was an accomplished athlete having gone to volleyball nationals and two basketball nationals. She was a gifted student, number 15 in a class of about 550. She was everyone’s best friend. She was drop dead gorgeous and she was fun and spunky. In spite of her talents and her quiet confidence, she was quick with a smile and a joke and she was humble. She cared deeply for animals. She had decided she was going to attend my alma mater to become a veterinarian. She was going to go with her favorite cousin who is the same age. She had big plans. All taken from us in a heartbeat.
Shayna accomplished so much in her 15-½ years on this Earth. She accomplished more than most who live two, three, four or five times that long. At her celebration, which we had just a couple of days before I began this blog, there were well over 500 people- former teachers, coaches, people who had never met Shayna but had heard about her, coaches she never had the opportunity to play for but looked forward to having her on their teams. The outpouring of love and support was one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed and it is a testament to a life well lived.
This blog is for me to process my grief. When I’m upset I write. It’s totally self-indulgent. This time I write in an effort to hold onto my sanity. I write in search of hope. I write to release some of this grief and pain that keeps filling me up. If I don’t release it, I will explode. It comes out in tears, it comes out in words. I
will share the ups (if there any) and the downs with no filters. I will be singing the praises of Shayna for the rest of my days. I will mourn her loss until I take my last breath and am reunited with her.
But, in the meantime, Shayna wants me to press on and press on is what I will do. Ty and Kayla need me. I still have a family to protect and nurture. I write this to honor my little girl who taught me so much. We cherished her, told her how proud we were of her, and told her we loved her daily. But, my appreciation for the way she took life on went even higher as I looked back at the sum total of what she did in such a short time.
We believe this little girl (if I can call a 5′10″ girl little) ran her course on Earth and finished fast, the same way she did everything else in life. She ran on ahead of us and we are saddened that she left us here to finish without her. But, a few days after her death, an image came to me.
We were walking the path of life together, as a family. We did everything together. We were holding hands. Shayna broke ranks and ran ahead. Shayna was always onto the next thing. We miss her, but our choices are to sit down here on the path and cry or to keep moving forward. Sitting down won’t bring us any closer to her. We have to keep moving forward and we will.
One day we will be reunited. Every day for the rest of my life, I will look forward to that day.