Monday, July 11, 2011

Celebrating Beautiful Lives

July 10,2011- Shane would have been 10 months and 1 day old. God I miss that little boy and I often catch myself daydreaming about what that handsome boy would look like. He'd be capable of smiling and laughing, maybe even walking, and definitely talking, maybe not real words, but words of his own. There is no denying the sadness in my heart but for as long as I live, I will never forget his life, his lesson, and the impact he has left on this world.
Yesterday, UCLA held a memorial service for the children who have passed away at the Children's Hospital. It was a celebration of their lives, whether they were 17 years or 2 days old, each one of them had a beautiful life and it was a touching service dedicated to honor the individual lives of these very special children.
Sitting in the auditorium, staring at the table covered in roses, listening to the music of IZ's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", it was difficult to not find myself remembering the memorial service we held for Shane, nearly 10 months ago. The sadness of that day revisited my soul and I was mourning the loss of Shane. It was a difficult situation. There was Shane's photo on a board next to other children who were also no longer with us here on earth. We were surrounded by other families who knew too well the pain that I was feeling. I remember sitting there and revising that day of Shane's memorial service. But something was definitely different. Reflecting on that day was like watching from the outside of a snow globe (if that makes any sense). I watched Mike and I grieve, I saw myself hugging my friend Natalie, bursting into tears saying "This is not fair!" I remember that raw pain, but I knew this was a memory.
I knew that life has changed from that day because when I opened up the program to the service I found a poem. It was a poem I have never seen before and for once this poem, being a poem dealing with loss, didn't seem so cliche. As I read it, I found myself liking the message, instead of feeling like it was some stupid saying made just to make me feel better. The poem brought me to tears; it was as if I could hear Shane's heart speak to me. The poem reads:
"And if I go, while you're still here...
Know that I live on, vibrating to a
different measure behind a thin
veil you cannot see me through.
You will not see me, so you must have faith.
I wait for the time when we both
can soar together again, both
aware of each other.
Until then, live your life to its
And when you need me, just
whisper my name in your heart...
I will be there."
Ascension by Colleen Corath Hitchcock

The service was absolutely beautiful and touching. Each child's name was read aloud and a message from their parents was made. When each child's name was called, the families were able to come up and place a rose in a vase in the child's honor. It was definitely surreal to be surrounded by other parents who have had to deal with such terrible tragedy. I remember right after Shane's service, I was told by my former coach, who had also lost a son, that we were now part of a fraternity that no one wanted to join, but that we weren't alone in this world. I couldn't help but think about what he had told me, about that fraternity, because here we were, surrounded by other families who have had to deal with the same kind of pain.
Along with the tears of sadness, there was comfort and smiles. We met some wonderful people and were able to share stories of our children. I loved hearing stories of other children as I love to talk about Shane. It's ironic because I remember having a conversation with my good friend Angie, who was my pregnancy buddy. We went through nearly our entire pregnancies together. We shared so many stories, discussed our crazy emotions, and dealt with interesting cravings. We looked forward to our futures filled with mommy dates so Shane and Aiden could play together. I envisioned visiting her in the hospital, seeing precious baby Aiden for the first time, me 9 months pregnant. But the world that we had envisioned and talked about for so long wasn't the reality of what it was going to be. Aiden Kenneth Bailey, was taken from this earth far too early and Angie and Kevin were far too young to have to say goodbye to him. I wasn't sure what was going on in the world when nearly 3 weeks after Aiden had passed, so did our precious Shane. Not only did Angie and I go through our pregnancies together, but we now shared a similar grief.
I'm not going to talk about the journey of grief or the pain that we experienced, as this was not why I brought this up. But I remember during one of our conversations, Angie and I were talking about how hard it feels sometimes to interact with the "normal" world. Not many people know the pain that we've dealt with, and no one, including us, knew how to truly navigate through it. We often talked about our interaction with people and how we both knew that the mentioning of our boys' names might not be brought up by other people because they feared that it might upset us. We both knew that people don't mention them, not because they don't care, but because they just don't know how it will affect us. But for me, and her for that matter, we enjoy hearing their name. I would rather someone acknowledge what happened then pretend like it didn't. I know it's weird for people, especially ones who we may not have seen in a long time, to wonder whether they should say something about him and if you want to truly know, it is TOTALLY ok. Infact, I would prefer it.
I remembered that conversation with Angie when the Chaplain read a poem. It is something that speaks from the heart of many parents who have lost a child. The poem she read went like this:
"The mention of my child's name may bring tears to my eyes,
But it never fails to bring music to my ears.
If you are really my friend,
let me hear the music of his name!
It soothes my broken heart and sings to my soul!"
~Author Unknown ~
Revisiting the feelings of Shane's memorial was difficult, but being at that ceremony was the right place for me. To remember Shane along with so many other parents' children, who love their child the same way we love Shane was SO special. I cried because I miss Shane, but I will always miss him, and I am ok with feeling that, because I love that little boys so much, it hurts.
"A dragonfly lights besides us like a sunbeam.
And for a brief moment, its glory and beauty
belong to our world. But then it flies on
again and though we wish it could have
stayed, we feel lucky to have seen it."


Heidi E said...

That ceremony sounds like it was very powerful! Thank you for sharing your experience. I will talk with you about Shane forever. He will never be forgotten in this household, that is for sure. Love you sister!!

Angie said...

I love your Shaney soo much!!! All of these poems are wonderful. The memorial day sounds like it was beautiful, I'm so glad you and Mike were able to go and remember Shane with so many others families. love you

jmg91 said...

Coach K, Every time I read what you write about Shane, I am truly in awe and inspired by the strength you have held. Some of what you wrote today resonates with me. When I lost my Dad, people were afraid to bring him up or bring up how he passed. But I wanted to talk about it. It was my reality, no matter how harsh or horrible it was, and I couldn't pretend that it didn't happen. Your unwanted fraternity also hit home with me as well. You are put into a group that you would never in a million years want to be in, but it does help to know you're not alone.
I love your new tattoo by the way! I hope you're doing well!

Teri Kuwahara said...

Shane Shimatsu McCusker...what a beautiful name!

Casey said...

Auntie Casey will never forget about her very first nephew, Shane!!! I love the poems you wer able to discover and enjoy from the ceremony, they are beautiful!

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