“Are You Still There?”

We all have a story.

I wish I could sit with you and hear your story.

This is Part 2 of my story about ways I discovered that helped me heal the pain from the loss of our 16 year-old son, Zane to cancer.

Specific pain: I longed and longed to find a way to stay connected to Zane in the absence of being with him physically.

Solutions: Not so specific … but they grew to be meaningful … and soothed my missing him until I see him again.

What I’m about to say is no new news.

We all yearn for connection … connection to a spouse, to a friend, to a group, to our business partners, to barn buddies … to our children.

It’s in these special connected relationships that we can be ourselves. We don’t have to pretend.

In the loss of our dear son, that physical connection was ripped away.

But, the heart connection was still there.

I bet it’s the same for you.

I still wanted a real connection to him, even if the style of it was new. I needed to find a way to experience a new relationship.

Here are some of the ways I discovered a new relationship with Zane. For these ways, I am truly grateful,

Immediately after his passing, I talked to Zane daily at the cemetary. I drove to that country place and I would sit on a bench my husband, Tom placed there. I talked to him.

I did that for about 6 months, because it comforted me. But then, I didn’t have the same desire to go there everyday.

Then some things occurred that gave me great comfort. I knew that he was near. I know it may sound strange to some people. All I know is that I could feel his absolutely hilariously funny and fun loving nature around me from time-to-time.

One night I had a different kind of dream in which he came and told me he was okay. He said he was helping cancer kids. He hugged our entire family. Then he said he had to go. He looked fabulous.

I also began to see 44s everywhere. Forty-four was Zane’s jersey number in high school football and basketball. He signed his emails, Z44. I lcherish seeing 44s. I see them often. I always think he’s saying, “Hi, Mom.” Z44 became our brand.

But the biggest part of my new relationship is knowing I will see him again. I always use the analogy of a kid at Christmas. I know when I see Zane again on the other side, I will be smiling from ear to ear. And this gives me huge comfort.

He is only out of my physical sight for a little while. I’ll be a good girl and do my job here until I see him again there.

In the meantime, I have my relationship with him here. I talk to him. Sometimes I feel him … and I always smile when I see the number 44.

These things have helped my healing journey. They have been hugely important for me. Zane’s not gone … gone. We just have a different relationship now.

I hope these ideas are helpful to you. I’m sure you have your own ways of staying connected in your heart to your loved one.

In this article, I “put myself out there”. I think, though when we share openly and honestly, we help each other.

I wish you comfort and peace. I would love for you to share your story. Just click the link here.

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22 Comments on “Are You Still There?”

  1. Sandy Crow on Wed, 21st Feb 2018 9:44 am
  2. This is so immensely touching and helpful.
    Thank for you sharing

  3. Barbra Schulte on Wed, 21st Feb 2018 5:15 pm
  4. Thank you, Sandy … so glad it’s helpful to you.

  5. Susan Bolin on Wed, 21st Feb 2018 8:10 pm
  6. I loved your email. It has given me encouragement. My husband and I have been married over 38 years. John has renal kidney cancer which has spread. For the moment, my prayers have been answered. The tumors are smaller now with the help of chemo-pills. He has more energy and is able to stay up all day. He still gets tired and doesn’t feel like driving, but that’s okay. I still talk to my father who passed away 46 years ago. I still miss him and like you, I want to see my love ones again. Thank you so much for your email.

  7. Barbra Schulte on Wed, 21st Feb 2018 8:49 pm
  8. You’re so welcome, Susan. All the best to you and your husband.

  9. Tricia Bruce-Novak on Thu, 22nd Feb 2018 6:54 am
  10. Barbra, Thank you for sharing your personal story about the loss of your son Zane. My situation is that I am not grieving anyone’s death, acutely, (tho still miss the loss of Mom & friends & family,) but, I am interested in other’s journey & what has helped them cope. Every day, I pray about my 96 year old Dad, 2 Aunts in their 90’s & an elderly Uncle. They have all been such a big part of my life & their loss will be hard to bear. For now, I’m thankful & appreciate their lives. Sincerely, Tricia

  11. sally Labree on Thu, 22nd Feb 2018 8:28 am
  12. I too spent alot of time at the cemetary, I spent so much time there I carried a stool in my car….but gradually I am come to realize I did not have to be there to “connect” with her, She is in me, in my heart ,wherever I am she is with me. That is when it started to get a bit easier. Thank you for sharing

  13. Barbra Schulte on Thu, 22nd Feb 2018 9:35 am
  14. Thank you, Tricia. I think you are wise. Blessings.

  15. Barbra Schulte on Thu, 22nd Feb 2018 9:37 am
  16. Sally, thank you for sharing. Yes. I understand.

  17. Lynn Jasmine on Thu, 22nd Feb 2018 10:52 am
  18. Barb, I am always amazed at how our journeys have been so parallel. My husband, Dannie, passed away suddenly in 1999. He continued to be “with me” until 9/11. That morning, my son called me before I had heard about the horrific events. We talked for a while. Shortly after we said goodbye, my husband came to me to let me know that I was OK, and that many other people needed him that day. Since that time, he comes occasionally – day or night – with some message that helps me. I know that he is an Angel helping those with greater needs than I have. Like your “44” Dannie left me a sign…an eagle came to the barn shortly after Dannie passed away. Through that magnificent bird Dannie let me know that he would always be watching over me and that when we met again we would soar together. Thank you once again for sharing your journey with Zane and offering others an opportunity to share our stories. Lynn

  19. Barbra Schulte on Thu, 22nd Feb 2018 11:12 am
  20. OMGosh, Lynn. What a beautiful, beautiful story. I truly thank you for sharing. I’m so glad you did. Blessings to you.

  21. Wendy McGraw on Thu, 22nd Feb 2018 11:35 am
  22. A huge thanks to you Barbara for “putting yourself out there”. You have helped me so much by sharing your story. My hardest losses in the recent past haven’t been from a person, but from my animal family. Dogs and horses. Some expected and some not…… I still talk to them from time to time and get signs along the way that they are still there. I’ve wondered if some people think I’m just bat crazy! Reading your story makes me feel more human and not so “out there” myself!
    With much gratitude 🙂 Wendy

  23. Barbra Schulte on Thu, 22nd Feb 2018 1:16 pm
  24. So glad, Wendy. (-:

  25. Barbara Williams on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 7:36 am
  26. I see him in the great blue heron who skims the lake each dawn as if greeting me, and in the strength of the redtail hawk who soars from pine woods to the cherry tree where his ashes lie. I let his tired spirit rest in the bosom of the resident doe who spends each morning with me, at safe distance, calibrating her world, assuring me that all is as it should be.

    But I feel him most alive and present in the soulful black eyes of Tassie, my bold and broad-chested paint mare, who has grieved for him alongside me as I have, more than a few times, buried my tear-streaked face in the warm hollow of her neck and absorbed her love and strength as though it were coming straight from him. He was her “candy man”, always ready for her with a peppermint from his jacket pocket.
    On the day of his memorial service, as family and friends joined together to recount our life with him and scatter his ashes in the pasture of his beloved Sweetapple, our home of 40 years, the four horses stood at rigid attention facing the cherry tree, evenly spaced 4 feet apart, ears forward, heads high, never moving a muscle as we descended the hill and passed them, a color guard of grief, respect and the purest love.

  27. Barbra Schulte on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 8:03 am
  28. Beautifully written, Brenda. Thank you.

  29. Patricia Roy on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 8:34 am
  30. Barb, I get everything you said. My son’s # was 17. He played soccer and he was really good. One of his best friends was diagnosed with brain cancer 2 yrs ago and when he went in for surgery he went into room 2017. His father called me to tell me when they saw that number they knew Matt was with them. 17 being his jersey # but 20 was the day he died. It gave me chills but I knew Matt was there for his friend. Later that day his friends wife was walking the hospital grounds waiting for the surgery to be over an took a picture of a light post in the hospital parking lot and it too had the #17 on it. Matthew’s friend Ricky made it thru surgery and is now cancer free. I believe Matt was there for him and for me when I need him. I don’t dwell on my loss anymore, I now look forward to the day we see each other again, and what a joyous day that will be.

  31. Barbra Schulte on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 11:46 am
  32. Love this Patricia.

  33. Carol MacGregor on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 8:16 pm
  34. Barb, thank you so much for being so honest about your raw emotions surrounding losing Zane, and how you made steps of progress in still being close to him. Interesting how your desire to visit the cemetery every day for 6 months eventually became less and less and then you’ve found many other helpful ways to stay and “be” close to him. Thank you so much for sharing your “heart”, as Zane is a big part of your “heart”!!! 🙂

  35. Barbra Schulte on Sun, 25th Feb 2018 8:31 am
  36. Thank you, Carol for your kind comment. Blessings to you.

  37. Cindy on Mon, 26th Feb 2018 8:59 am
  38. After reading this I bawled like a baby it has been a long time since I cried like that for my Dad. Dad went to heaven almost 4 yrs ago at age 85 and I was his girl, his Doll as he called me. After his death my 2 brothers and I worked for 6 months continuously to clean out Dads junk collection and sell his place I did not get to grieve I worked and worked with no rest. Maybe that is why I still feel a hurt in my heart for his passing. I cried so hard today and I miss him. It does bring me comfort in what you said about seeing him again and I will I know I will and I can’t wait for that big hug and his laugh. That is what I miss the most. Thank you soooo much for sharing your thoughts and feeling on the passing of your son and your journey. I am so sorry for you loss.

  39. Barbra Schulte on Mon, 26th Feb 2018 10:06 am
  40. Thank you so much, Cindy. I know your Dad is loving you from where he is. Blessings and comfort.

  41. Deanna on Sun, 29th Mar 2020 9:39 pm
  42. You are so right Barbra…beautifully written and spoken from the heart.

  43. Virginia Walker on Mon, 5th Jul 2021 8:47 am
  44. Oh my, i want to cry. Such beautiful words and thoughts of those we have loved. I was Daddy’s girl and his and mom’s doll baby, Dolly. When my mom was in a home, dad had died, she had had Alzheimers for the last 13 years of her life. I told her I bought a horse whose name was Dolly and she got the biggest smile. She knew. Miss them both so much and always talk to them. Thanks everyone.

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