REAL Stories: Kyna Shaw (Living Through Losing My Dad on Father’s Day)

Filed under REAL Stories Your World on Jun 15 13 by

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Kyna Shaw (left)

She pieces fabric together with a painter’s eye. Kyna Shaw creates art from bits and pieces, her work telling a story every time. A Philadelphia-based painter and mixed media artist, she is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Occupational Therapy. A few years ago, her father and hero—the man larger than life to her and her 6 siblings—passed away on Father’s Day. Since then, she is learning to see how God is stitching the beauty of her dad’s life into the tapestry of the days she lives without him. She also sees a portrait of hope, drawn by a faithful God her earthly father taught her to love and live for.

YOU ARE: When you think back on being a little girl, what things about your dad stand out most in your memory?

Kyna: My dad would get home from work and kiss mom every single day. I stood on his work boots while he walked me around; they had steel toes—that always fascinated me. He also started teaching me how to play checkers when I was seven. The first time I beat him without him going easy on me was when I was 14. I still remember that vividly. And one time, he surprised me and my sister with tickets to DC Talk, and he sat with us up in the nosebleed section, having fun with us even though he’d worked a long day in the sun.

He always made time for each child. Now that I’m a parent, I can understand what a sacrifice it must have been for him and my mom to raise us with so much individual attention.

YOU ARE: Can you tell me about the last time you saw him or spoke with him?

Kyna: The last time I saw my father was when I went to visit a few weeks before his surgery. He was diagnosed with Degenerative Disk Disease May 15th, and passed June 15th of the same year. My husband, my daughter and I traveled down to visit the family in Maryland after the diagnosis. He had a brace on his neck to stabilize the bones. The family played Cranium together, and when we left he gave [my daughter] Gabrielle a kiss two times.

He knew he was going to die. The Holy Spirit had told him, and I believe he knew that was the last time he would see us on earth. In my soul, I also knew, but I was in denial. I spoke to him last on the phone after the surgery. I still can’t remember if I said, “I love you.”

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Kyna with her mother and father

YOU ARE: You received a call from your sister saying your dad had been rushed to the hospital on Father’s Day, not breathing. What happened then?

Kyna: When I got to the hospital I jumped out of the truck and walked across the parking lot holding Gabrielle in my arms. The walk seemed endless. My husband Kris and brother Jeremiah were behind me, taking their time.

As I walked towards the doors, a family friend came out, and she wouldn’t look at me even as she walked towards me. I just kept saying her name. I may have told her to look at me. When she did, she simply said, “I’m sorry.”

As cliché as it sounds, everything did go black. I fell to the ground shrieking. Inhuman sounds ripped their way out of my body. I tried to scream the pain away; I tried to yell louder and louder to un-hear those words, change this new unwelcome reality. At first no words would come as I curled into a ball in the grass screaming over and over. Then all I could say was, “God told me he was going to take my daddy,” over and over.

It was then, in that state of shock, writhing in the grass, that God brought to my remembrance what He had already told me: the road was going to be tough, but everything was going to be okay. In that mental state where lucidity is just out of reach, God’s peace, which passes all understanding, fell over my soul.

It was that peace—and the fact that I was too prideful to be wheeled into the hospital in a wheelchair—that enabled me to stand up and walk through those doors to join my family.

YOU ARE: How did your dad’s death impact you spiritually?

Kyna: My dad’s death, as soul-shattering as it was, breathed life into me spiritually. God spoke to me directly. The infinite God, the Creator of the vast universe, cared enough about miniscule me to speak peace into my self-absorbed life when there was no peace to be found.

The profundity of those moments where God spoke directly to me is sobering. When my faith slips, I look to this time in my life where God carried a grieving family through. Thus, in my father’s death I find spiritual renewal. It has become an anchor for my faith, just as Christ’s death on the cross is the anchor of salvation. Jesus’ death gave the world the option to be renewed, because of His Father’s sacrificial love.

“His love for you as an individual is profound; His peace is within reach. Call out to Him. He will meet you exactly where you are.”

YOU ARE: What do you want other women who are dealing with loss to know?

Kyna: For those on the path walking of grief, with your heart shattered, raw, bleeding, turn to God, the Lover of your soul. Only He can restore we who are spiritual beings, housed in finite humanity.

His love for you as an individual is profound; His peace is within reach. Call out to Him. He will meet you exactly where you are.


Samples of Kyna’s work as a mixed media artist

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Shannon K. Wheeler
Shannon lives in a continually redecorated Victorian home in Maine. Before staying home with her three kids, she owned a salon for ten years and taught high school art. Shannon volunteers in orphan care and women’s ministries. Her passion is encouraging women to live vibrant, creative, inspired lives. Shannon loves to see the God-stories all around her. She writes about life, faith and all things fabulous at Shannon K. Wheeler.
  • Anastasia Stillstanding Myers

    This is an amazing article. Just as your dad was an amazing person!