missing person

This isn’t something I could have anticipated.
I miss him. A lot. A lot, a lot.
Like stuffing it down, swallowing it hole, a lot.
Feels like now, more than ever, I’m craving his presence, guidance, and friendship.
Awake at night a lot. Closing my eyes, swallowing tears, catching my breath alone, a lot.
Feeling ashamed and blindsided by this new wave of …missing him.

I don’t openly admit this to diminish or discredit the incredibly astounding love I have and know now, it’s different… my heart is blooming at the same time that the ache feels like it has intensified. And I’m exhausted by the push and pull.
Why now?
The stronger my new love for Jessep roots down and deepens and grows, it seems the missing Shayne intensifies.
What?!

I share this because its pressing so hard on my heart.
And I am aware enough of this to know, this is what this does.
Its the life in the anomaly. The missing and moving onward.
Missing the life you knew while building a brand new one.
I am feeling love, giving love, emptying my cup, sometimes even when it hasn’t entirely filled up, and showing up and leaning in to a new normal with shaky hands and a smile and 10 layers of tough skin.
We try. We all try.
Every day to just.do.better than the last.
But when the dust settles each day and lately as I go to bed at night, after a new day of entirely new challenges… I miss him. I miss knowing how he will react to things, the kids, the situations that arise… I miss the knowing.
Or do I?
Or is it… do I also miss not feeling like things are out of my control.
I miss that, too.

The tables of anxiety have turned. Shayne was anxious.
He was thoughtful and precise and was always on a task, keeping busy, his brain was always on. I used to give him a hard time about being, “OCD.”
Now, I feel like I have inherited that from him.
Because so many aspects of my life felt out of my hands since April 16th, I began strong-holding, gripping tightly onto things I thought I could and needed to.
Whatever I could control, I snatched it up and allowed that to breathe confidence in me that…. yes, yes I can do this life. Watch me. Look at everything I can grab a hold of and control, see?
Well, now that again things have been shaken up, the anxiety rises and I recoil and retreat into myself in defeat when I feel like I have lost even a hint of it. It makes me feel helpless all over again. Reminiscent of the first weeks of being a widow.
And I don’t want to be this way.
I do fight it. I fight in my heart and head with it. Every.day.

The new-ness has not worn off. Even being a widow. Its been a year and a half of it, but I still catch myself shaking my head at the air sometimes. But adding to the mix two additional fragile souls. Two souls that deserve me at my best. Pressure has been on to stay patient and gracious with myself and our new-ness.
But, stuffing my own grief down that has taken on new shape since we all integrated, to especially be present for a child who is in the throes of it… its just hard stuff.

I wish I could turn the faucet off.

I feel selfish if I feel it too much, but suffocating on it if I don’t.

I couldn’t have anticipated my own would morph. Again.
I underestimated it.

I woke Jessep and I both up from a dream about a week ago, sobbing.
I hadn’t dreamt of Shayne in a long while. The first ‘dream’ I ever had of Shayne after he died, I was staying with my friend in Destin, visiting, hadn’t moved here yet. I woke up out of a sound sleep, opened my eyes wide… staring at the bunk above me and clear as day I saw his face. I saw him just as I saw him every day for nearly 10 years. He was smiling. So big. His eyes so kind, so soft, so peaceful. He didn’t say anything. Just smiling. And I wasn’t panicked or scared or sad. I was overwhelmed with calm and peace.
I didn’t know what that meant or what I was being given in that moment, but I thought maybe somehow, someway I was being given a sign he is okay, and maybe happy for me to pursue living here.

I was up for almost an hour after having this dream about Shayne last week.
I was in the van, driving around and looking for him. Searching for his car.
I was driving by the old nursery he used to work at in South Florida, hoping he was parked out front. Sure enough, his white Chevy Blazer was there. Even with all his band stickers on the back hatch glass.
My heart raced as I parked next to him. I couldn’t wait to get to him.
He was sitting in the driver’s seat with a big smile. I knocked on his window and he acted like he didn’t know me. I was a stranger to him in this dream but I was adamant about finding him and letting him know, you do know me.
Like he had amnesia and I needed to remind him of us.
I got out my phone and was showing him a video of us in the snow in Chicago and said, “It will be weird when you watch this, but you’ll see… we were real.”
I watched his face as he watched the video of us and it lit up, he was so excited.
I watched as his face painted the picture that the puzzle pieces in his mind about who I was were finding their way to each other.

Then, I woke up sobbing. I was overwhelmed with pain instantly. The minute my brain realized I wasn’t in his car, talking to him, it remembered I can’t go find him or talk to him or be able to explain any of this, anything, ever again.

The dream was my inner workings trying not to lose touch of him throughout all of these changes and evolution into our new life. That the more time presses on, the more miles together we travel… the farther I get and feel away from my life. Letting more fingertips go. The one I had 18 months ago.  If I take a minute to think on everything that has transpired and what I have on my plate… I can easily paralyze.

And in dealing with family, children… add the layers. With preexisting conditions and expectations and experiences and love from people who are no longer even living. And having to navigate those, while establishing new ones… trial and error. As if parenting wasn’t the gauntlet of trial and error.

This is not for the faint of heart. This is not black and white. There is no road map. There are no fail-safes. Like walking in a minefield. Anything at any time could trigger someone’s grief.
We, all of us, in our own ways, have built defenses and fortresses around and for ourselves and each day we stay together, are all trying to soften each other enough to break through them.
Combining families without a death, much less two, is sure as shit a tough gig. Add kids. Who have all been through losing the person who brought them to life.
We’re doing our best.
I’m doing my best. I’m showing up in the ways that I know how, but wanting to be better.

Some days I feel like I’m never going to not be treading water with this. And other days I feel like I can conquer and swim the ocean-wide.

Learning to relinquish control. Giving myself permission to not have a tough grip on everything, that if I give up my grip… it won’t all unravel and slip away from me and disappear.
I won’t lose anything or anyone by letting my guard down and unclench my fists.
I’m trying.

And a year from now… I know I’ll still miss him, but I also know I’ll look back and I’ll have conquered more than this.

No shame while I grow through this season. Just feel it all, let it rise, and lead on with love. And be grateful, nonstop, for the time I have been given. IMG_2893.JPG

joy+health+peace,

caroline

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