"Thank you for a productive week. Thank you for McDs. Thank you for cute houses. Thank you for the smell of fresh cut grass. Thank you for time with just me and the 'mules'." SAB 4-30-1998
So here we are. The day I've been moving toward since January 1. The last entry in Shannon's gratitude journal...and as so many days before, our lives have once again meshed ... past and present.
I spent the day with Mom. We bought dirt. We looked at what we hope will be my nephew's 'cute' new house with his wife and baby son. We mowed grass and now I'm home, just me and the "mules" - animules. Oh and we had lunch from McDonald's... and I hadn't read ahead... so I didn't know until now that these were her thank yous for today.
I think I've almost come to the conclusion that writing this blog, this year, is a way for me to finally grasp what it means to live with loss. In other cultures, mourning is respected, extended, sometimes for years. There are rules for dress during mourning, "Mourning is worn for six months for a sibling. Parents will wear mourning for a child for "as long as they feel so disposed. A widow is supposed to wear mourning for two years and is not supposed to enter society for twelve months". In our culture, or at least in my experience, I was given five days. Five days to close the chapter and prepare to move on. I did my best.
I took an extra week off from work, a week of vacation. I understand there was some discussion about whether I was taking vacation or excused time and 'additional' excused time was not supposed to be granted for a death. People can be so incredibly insensitive.
I wrote my thank you notes, we took Shannon's flowers to family members at the cemetery, we held each other, we cried, we didn't eat or sleep, we went through the motions, did what we thought we were supposed to do. Then we went back to work. We volunteered for LifeNet, we made bookmarks, we tried to be there for families going through loss. Our greatest comfort seemed to come when we were embracing, comforting someone else in pain. We tucked our sorrow safely inside. We celebrated Shannon's life every chance we had. I went back to school. I worked long days and watched a lot of television. I even spent far too much time playing mindless computer games. I kept moving, moving, moving. We created our Angel Tree. I read every book on the market about surviving loss. I knew that statistics made it clear that 75% of marriages don't survive the loss of a child. We just kept moving, breathing, and holding on to each other.
It's been twelve years since Shannon's accident. I think I finally need to write it all down, as many details as I can remember, before time causes the memories to fade. It's not because of sadness or depression or a morbid need to relive that day, but there is such incredible significance to Shannon 'leaving'. Nothing will ever be the same and it is all so meaningful, so tender, so profound... I want to be sure that I don't miss a thing. So here we are, April 30, again.
Sometimes we miss the significance of the details, but here's one that might make clear what I'm trying to say. You know the Leonard Cohen song " Hallelujah " ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tubL9EaiztM )? Well, I had only heard it once before I saw the Canadian Tenors on Oprah, and I didn't remember where. I bought the CD and listened to the song over and over... the harmony brought tears to my eyes... until I really listened to the line..."she broke your throat, she cut your hair", yuck. It ruined the whole experience for me. The song took on an entirely different feel. I was telling Denise, and she said "Oh yeah, that's the song from Shrek". I said, "But that line about cutting his throat... ick." She said, with a kind smirk on her face... " She broke your THRONE." Okay, so hearing is the second thing to go.
I was so relieved. Now I can listen to the song a million more times with peace of mind. But you see how relevant the details are? That was just one word...two letters, actually, and I almost gave up something that gives my heart wings.
Two years before Shannon's accident, she went with me to a Regression Therapist. I don't know exactly how God planned for us to learn all of our lessons and grow spiritually, but I can't help but think that maybe we do get more than one chance...and I wanted the experience of a Past Life Regression to see what I might remember. My sweet Shannon agreed to go with me. "What the heck!" The one love in her young life had ended badly, he was dating, and she was struggling with letting go. I knew it couldn't hurt to explore her feelings in the alternative setting and to be honest... it was amazing. She regressed to a lifetime with him where the roles were reversed and she had left him. Regardless of whether past lives are possibilities or just hooey, Shannon felt better and that was all that mattered. Well, anyway, the session was recorded and this morning I listened to it as I drove to my Moms. It was wonderful to hear Shannon's voice !
I have thought about Shannon's transplant recipients all day today. They didn't realize that their lives were about to change, health restored and hope for a future realized. They didn't know Shannon. Shannon didn't know them, but we were all about to collide. Our lives changed in the blink of an eye.
On the night of April 30, 1998, Shannon wrote her thank yous and then on the last page before May 1 she wrote,
"First thing, I'm now 23. I don't feel older, but people keep reminding me of my age and the things I need to do to live up to it. Things are back to normal with Gram and I spent this last week of April with her as her paid handy man, as much a blessing to her as it is to me 'cause I need the mula. I quit WW 'cause I was gaining weight, but Mom seems to be doing well, hope she keeps it up. I'm thankful for the life I have, nothing I want that I can't obtain, wonderful family and friends, and lucky enough to take my time finding a job. Of course I know it's time to do so. Everyone seems to be doing well right now and for that I am thankful."
Tomorrow, I won't have her thank yous to begin each entry. Not until August 7, which is the date it all began the summer before. What I hope unfolds as I continue to write, is the beauty of this journey. We have been blessed with so many messages from Shannon. Things that have no other explanation. Things that made us smile in spite of ourselves.
It's okay if you don't believe.....just enjoy and blame it all on imagination or wishful thinking but if it gives your heart comfort, that's all that really matters.
"Thank you for a productive week. Thank you for McDs. Thank you for cute houses. Thank you for the smell of fresh cut grass. Thank you for time with just me and the 'mules'." JJB 4-30-2010