Saturday, September 24, 2016

100 days, Thank Yous

100 days
Sharry can you believe we’ve been apart for 100 days!? Or that your beautiful baby boy has been on this earth for such a milestone? To celebrate his 100th day Shar I want to share with you all the good people and things that have helped me survive and for which I am very grateful.

To begin with let us be totally clear I am NOT thankful for life in general right now! In fact I kind of loathe it and long for any kind of reality (alive or dead) where I am still by your side, where I can hold you in my arms, hear your voice and see your beautiful smile. Unfortunately in this reality that is impossible and I must carry on adapting to a sad new normal. But Shar I did want to let you know what is helping me survive.

Baby girl you are first and foremost on my list. I am blown away by all the amazing experiences, notes, music and surprise treasures that you have left behind for me and JJ. I think I fall more in love with you all the time. I am about to finish your last journal and that honestly fills me with dread as that probably means no more amazing wisdom, memories and private undiscovered love notes. Thank you for filling our 12 short years together with so much love, adventure, passion and goodness. You were an earthbound angel and continue to be one that I hope and pray watches over and guides JJ, Lola and me.

Shar your baby boy is a 100 day super star. He is chunky, smiley, super cute, incredibly social, has long Buhanan digits, and pipes...the kiddo can scream! He is my exhausting anchor and I love him to pieces. He is my literal piece of you and I can’t wait to see him grow and develop where I discover his angel mama in his attributes, let’s hope there are many! I am grateful to our beautiful boy.

I am so so grateful to the NICU staff of the Murray Intermountain Medical Center. Shar these talented doctors, nurses and staff took such great care of your family. They obviously knew the whole tragic situation and they responded with amazing kindness, expertise and compassion. I learned much from them. I slept many nights in the NICU (they have a room for parents) and I loved going in at 3am and having a loving and comforting nurse who was there taking care of JJ and taking care of me. I sincerely miss them.

Another note on the medical front our fertility clinic has waived the cost of keeping our six embryos frozen for the next couple of years. I have no idea what to do with these living pieces of you Shar but my tentative plan is to find a proxy mama in 2-3 years and have a baby girl. We’ll see, regardless, their generosity gives me time to figure things out.

Sharry our families have been extraordinary. On June 16th Scott was the first responder to the hospital when I needed love and support desperately and he was followed by the SOS Buhanan-Decker grief and love aid. They have been deep wells of love and support. My cousin Jamie, Brad, Justin, Lisa and Josh and their families have been amazing helps for both me and JJ. Shar you should see how much JJ loves his cousins and other little kids it’s so adorable. However it is important to note that Sara informs me “she is JJ’s favorite”.

Oh man Shar I’m getting emotional writing this one but I am so grateful for our amazing moms. They are consistent, reliable, loving supports in my life and I’m pretty sure JJ likes them both a bit more than he likes me and I think I’m totally ok with that. Your mom watches JJ 3 days a week while I’m at work and he always seems so happy when I go to pick him up. I think it’s good for your mom and dad too because he is such a powerful connection to you. My mom is a super hero. In the hospital when I weeped literally all night long she would cuddle and comfort me. Now she takes the more difficult of the JJ night shifts every single night. I love and am so grateful for these two amazing women.

Shar you would not believe the outpouring of love and support from people online for our tragedy and learning from your light and example. People are so drawn to you Shar, you have inspired hundreds if not thousands to try to live more full lives that focus on relationships and experiences. Individuals and families have been incredibly generous emotionally, spiritually and financially. One of my awesome cousins setup a gofundme that was shared six thousand times! Thanks to that and your good financial habits JJ and I really have not had to stress about finances which is pretty great in a time so full of other stresses, sadness and loss. There has even amazingly been a great amount of milk (both breastmilk and formula) donated to our family as well which is so thoughtful and generous in a way that I would have never anticipated. One individual in my parent’s neighborhood has be especially helpful with our milk supply. People can be so good.

Remember how you had a pretty amazing Amazon wish list of children’s books and you wanted our kids to have the best library ever? Well it happened! Another fabulous cousin shared your list with people online and hundreds of books were delivered along with diapers, clothes, homemade quilts, chairs, accessories wipes and so much more. You have great taste Shar and the cool thing is many of the books come with a little gift note with well wishes and support. People can be so thoughtful.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how good absolute and complete strangers have been on reddit and elsewhere. In two different scenarios I have turned there for help and people deliver with compassion and kindness. The first was when I found some of your recorded songs in a format that I could not figure out so I turned to a music subreddit and people delivered mp3s of your angelic voice! Then in the last little bit I am trying to figure out the preliminary steps to make your treasure hunt scholarship happen and once again complete strangers who don’t know me from Adam responded. It’s totally going to happen Shar this spring your amazing creative giving idea is going to happen.

Wise and compassion supports have entered my life from unexpected places. I have had students from Midvale and their families become a big source of compassion and friendship in my life. I have reconnected with old friends from middle school and high school that I can turn to for total love and support. I have made new friends who share my burden with patience, kindness and faith. After a decade of not really wanting or needing any new friends, (you were all I ever wanted) it’s been kind of weird, in a good way, to have such promising friendships blossom.

Sharry I have been so grateful for my new job. I honestly am pleasantly surprised by this one. I was always nervous about counseling at a high school and the prospect of moving back to St George. But the teachers, counselors, parents and especially students have given me a giant source of purpose and love in my life when I desperately need it in a location where I can be near family and get the support that JJ and I require.

You and I always cherished our time in nature and the wilderness and I do now more than ever. I like to think that I feel your presence in the red sands of snow canyon, hiking with loved ones (or alone), watching the full moon or as the wind blows through my hair. I am so grateful for the amazing beauty of southern Utah and all the cherished memories that you and I shared exploring many of its nooks and crannies.

Baby girl I doubt there will ever be anything that completely fills the giant Sharry size hole in my heart and soul but people are helping, at least a bit, and for all this I am grateful. And if you have any ability whatsoever I pray that in addition to being our loving guardian angel that you send some good angelic vibes of gratitude to all of the amazing people who have showed the BD3 such compassion and grace.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Reflections on resolutions

Sharry always developed AMAZING New Year’s resolutions. I recently read these incredible goals in her journal for 2014. The year previous, 2013, was one of the hardest years of our lives. It was the year we aimed to have our first baby (and obviously didn’t), we lost a family member way too young and moved into a new apartment infested by bed bugs and had to throw out all of our furniture. Sharry had an especially hard time yet at the end of the year when looking back she was not bitter but rather reached for higher goals of goodness. As always, I need to #livelikeShar and reach for greater experiences, love, light and compassion.

New Years Resolutions 2014

  • Literally become more like Jesus, St Francis, Mother Teresa, Gandhi family heroes
    • (St Francis) Eat mostly vegan, 100% vegetarian still going strong
    • (Jesus) climb to the mountains and through the deserts to commune with God need to do this more
    • (Jesus and Gandhi) Fast. Give food and $ saved to help the poor AHIMSA!
    • (Mother Teresa) Directly help the sick and afflicted for my career path. Volunteer hospice
    • (All) Read spiritual texts
    • (St Francis) Keep a nature journal w/ pictures and poetry
    • (Gandhi) Write a novel about my mormon family (Little Women etc.) That tells and honest story of love, loss and growing up. She had a few chapters in a very rough draft that I LOVE

  • Spend time with family happening in spades
  • Hike and camp in the narrows
  • Run a 5k in spring to get in shape for my year in the outdoors (Bandit style)
  • Backpack through Utah’s slot canyons for sure need to do
  • Rocky Mountain High, enjoy the beautiful rockies
  • Grow in Peace and Happiness
  • Fast, meditate, read 40 books that improve me spiritually and increase compassion
  • Join in and have a community
  • Create beautiful art
  • Write a novel of all the things that are the most true and honest. Rough draft by December 2014.
  • Hunger for justice
  • Finish my paper with Peri
  • Other:
    • Stress less about money
    • Pay off student loans
    • Try to get pregnant
    • Save for future home
    • Play and record guitar
    • Get involved in activism
    • Go jogging regularly

LOVE THIS, great advice for me as a counselor, father and human being who desperately needs good vibes in his life.
Then the last page has in big letters:
Hunger for Justice: let the pain of others haunt you
The best people have “battle scars.” Share the struggle - Bear others’ pain. Stay up at night because of injustice. Get uncomfortable

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Martyrs & Suffering

87 Days
Almost three month JJ doing some tummy time
One unique positive and difficult thing that has come from my heart breaking tragedy is having the world of suffering revealed in greater depth. My catastrophic experience of losing my best friend and soul mate on the day that was supposed to be our happiest has resonated with many people who in turn have opened up to me. This is true for multiple reasons. Sharry was a great light in the world and people take note when someone like her is extinguished at such a young age. The tragedy is many couples’ greatest fear...losing your most important person in a freak turn of events. Ultimately I think the key piece is that suffering exists for us all. And for many it is very deep and acute. I have been amazed both as a counselor and in my personal life with the depth and breadth of pain, loss, heartache, loneliness and frankly just plain shitty stuff that happens to good people everywhere.

I found a poetic observation along these lines in Sharry's journal written almost 3 years ago, September 19, 2013. "Life, by nature - is both a comedy and a tragedy. One story closes with a wedding night when another begins with a terminal illness. We will dance - and laugh - and die." (I fall deeper in love with her all the time..probably not healthy but true.)

page in Shar's journal...her "life work"
It is totally understandable if you feel like you are alone in whatever storm life has brought you. Social media often paints a very distorted view of reality. Your friends, family and casual associates appear to have life full of amazing experiences, beautiful smiles and never ending goodness. Rarely if ever is that the case 100% of the time...for anybody. As a counselor I am well aware of the power of being grateful and looking for the good but yet it must be acknowledged that we all have difficult things in our lives. One of my favorite quotes on the subject, “be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” We must resist judging others but instead turn to compassion and love. It is important that we be as open as we can with our own pain because in so doing we open the doors for compassion, kindness and healing.

My favorite book I have read since 6/16 is Why bad things happen to good people by Rabbi Harold S Kushner. I think it should be required reading for all that have suffered in their lives, i.e. every last one of us. One of my favorite concepts that he writes about in the very last chapter is the idea that when tough things happen in life people can become martyrs for good or for evil. Here is a passage pregnant with meaning for those (myself most of all) in the midst of deep suffering:

The most important question we can ask about suffering is whom it serves. Does our suffering serve God or the devil, the cause of becoming alive or morally paralyzed? Not “Where does the tragedy come from?” but “Where does it lead?”

The facts of life and death are neutral. We, by our responses, give suffering either a positive or a negative meaning. Illnesses, accidents, human tragedies kill people. But they do not necessarily kill life or faith. If the death and suffering of someone we love makes us bitter, jealous, against all religion, and/or incapable of happiness, we turn the person who dies into one of the “devil’s martyrs.” If suffering and death in someone close to us brings us to explore the limits of our capacity for strength and love and cheerfulness, if it leads us to discover sources of consolation we never knew before, then we make the person into a witness for the affirmation of life rather than its rejection.

It would be very easy to despair and from my suffering grow bitter, hopeless, loveless, lonely, faithless and angry. I totally get why and how people do it. There are many long, dark nights when I do it as well.

BUT if my angelic Sharry by her tragic loss is a martyr then I am determined that she be a “martyr for God.” A martyr for love, peace and compassion. A martyr for living a full life of deep connection, breathtaking experiences and cherishing/protecting all living things.

Where does your suffering lead?

34 week couple picture

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Salt Lake Dissident Vol. 1

81 days since I lost Shar and gained JJ

In 2009 Shar and I lived up by the University of Utah and she had the fun, creative and memorable idea to start an underground newspaper. We would write it ourselves and sneakily make copies at our jobs and then distribute them in City Weekly bins mixed throughout the other papers. Her pseudonym was R. Cory and mine was J. Greenman. It was a blast and we have don’t have a clue if a single paper was ever even read but I like to think that our idealistic and passionate articles reached a few eyes. I wanted to share a few of my faves that Shar had written. The images (not of us) were originally used in our paper as well. I’ll break them up into a few different posts and do some light annotating.
33 weeks pregnant up Little Cottonwood Canyon

The Salt Lake Dissident
November 2009
“The Imminent Threat of Distraction”
By R. Cory

The world’s impending apocalypse is presented in every form of media from the nightly news’ description of catastrophic tsunamis, to the internet reports on raging Iranians, to the plethora of films that depict the end of civilization (i.e. 2010, Independence Day, Wall-e, The Day After Tomorrow, I am Legend, Armageddon, just to name a few). With such doomsday reports it’s hard to focus on the possibilities of youth, change, hope, charity, or kindness. Obviously nearly seven years later this is still very much still the case

Rather than face modern fears, young people spend their time merely distracted by electronic devices, passing personal conflicts, and internet images. Face it, we’ve all been at an event where everyone was texting, or a concert where everyone was too busy snapping photos to listen to the music. At the heart of the issue, we have a large group of young people who are ultimately slipping through the cracks of technology and avoiding the harshness of reality. Of course we can all relate to this. We are all guilty of being lost in technology The funny thing is, the more we ignore the terrible world around us, the more it ultimately comes crashing down on us. What an amazing insight from a 23 year old To ignore pain, death, and fear is to live a lie. Ignorance strips us of our opportunity to help others, to give charity, to turn the other cheek, and the show love in response to terror, violence, and hatred. Truth. How could you not love this woman!?

As the great Siddhartha Gautama taught, life is suffering, impermanence, change, stress, and dissatisfaction. The incredible aspect of this truth is that after recognition, there is the remarkable opportunity to take action. Since we are in this major motion picture together, we may as well share the popcorn and make the experience as enjoyable for those around us as possible. Opportunities to help others are limitless: smile, talk to someone you would otherwise avoid, show genuine concern for others problems, host a benefit concert, make blankets for sick children, volunteer at your local care and share, make a charitable donation, or regularly visit an elderly care center. Ignorance is not bliss or a solution to tragedy and heartache, rather understanding prepares us to overcome.

The Salt Lake Dissident
January 2010
“When the Hard Rain Falls”
By R. Cory

Many college students and young people have little backup when catastrophe strikes. Not only is the entire country in conflict over wars in the Middle East, health care reform, and government bailouts but young people are often left over worked, medically uninsured, driving rusted old cars that constantly break down, tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and holding graduate school rejection letters. Emotional confidence has long since been extinguished by midterm papers, biology labs, and report cards and many students are left depressed and lost. Trust me, I have been in this unhappy place and it is not easy to find a way out.

The future can appear entirely overwhelming with the job force shrinking and the American Dream appearing as a mere glimmer on the horizon. On the other hand, sometimes it takes a hard taste of reality to focus on the things that truly matter. This unsettling place, also referred to as “rock bottom” is summed up eloquently by the musician/lyricist Kris Kristofferson (performed by Janis Joplin) “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, And nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free.”

When things are already terrible, it’s hard to get much worse. Perhaps this new low is a chance to embark on some new adventure, a chance you would otherwise never have risked with a house, car, family, or job on the line. Sometimes being left with nothing is the only way to push beyond what is expected and find something great. The newscaster David Brinkley said it this way, “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” Basically, take what you learn from your predicament and rebuild. Take that risk that you’ve always dreamed of, send your novel off to publishers, start a new business, travel the United States in a Volkswagen bus, ask out your dream girl, live off the land, start performing at open mic night, change your major to graphic design. Whatever your dream is, follow it. You’ve got “nothing left to lose” and therefore you are “free.”
Powerful words for me now in my life. I have definitely hit “rock bottom”, so from the words of my lost love I know I must go up and look for opportunities to find adventure, goodness and light once more. I just miss her so damn bad. One day at a time.