This was an intense weekend.  It was our first time away from home since Silas was born and passed away, and it wasn’t easy.  The only way it was at all enjoyable was that we were with our siblings in my brother’s wonderfully comfortable house up in the mountains of New Hampshire.  The weather was beautiful, the trees brilliant, the stars endless and the chilly evenings were warmed by firelight.  There was a coldness within, though, that was almost untouchable.

This weekend I put a shovel into the ground and I opened up the Earth.  I dug a hole.  Every stroke and crunch and and scrape chilled me.  There was no mistaking exactly what else I was doing besides planting a tree in my brother’s back yard. For a day the hole sat there unfilled, the tiny sapling peach tree firmly encased in a plastic pot off to the side.

In the early afternoon on Sunday we gathered in the back yard, I read the Hopi Prayer of the Soul’s Graduation, scattered my son’s ashes into the open Earth and then Lu and I placed the tree.  Together we filled the space left with loam that Mark trundled in with wheelbarrow and then we all found rocks in the yard to represent each of us and all the others who loved Silas so much.  There weren’t enough rocks for everyone, so we let the few we gathered represent many.

On some level I wanted to feel better coming home from this.  I don’t.  I’m pleased that we have this wonderful memorial to Silas, and that we had a chance to perform this deeply human ritual, but it’s not enough.  If anything I feel worse that I don’t have my little nephew Oren around to shower with love.

As brutal as it was to have to perform that action, to create a memorial to my dead son, it felt right.  I’m so glad that my brother and his wife picked out a tree for us.  For some reason, making decisions right now can be challenging and I don’t think either of us would have thought of a peach tree, but it was the perfect call.  All summer Lu has been demanding peaches from the various farmers’ markets I worked and all summer the “Peaches” song by The Presidents of the United States has been going through our brains.

Now Silas’ tree will generate millions of peaches, peaches for us.  Nothing can soothe the empty ache that lives in our hearts, but sharing the pain with our family in a gorgeous setting does help.  We will savor the fruit from his tree for many years, and I hope to someday see Oren climbing in those branches. I wish that vision had both Silas and Oren in a tree together, playing like brothers do, like me and my brothers still do, but that’s just not how this Universe rolls.  Ours is a far more steep and treacherous path than we ever imagined and we have no map or compass.

The stars are covered by clouds.  The reserve jugs of sustenance are sorely depleted and all we have is the little spark of our love for each other to keep us warm. We can hear the voices of friends and family in the distance and dawn is somewhere in the future, but right now we are huddled next to a tiny peach tree on a cold and terrible night high in the mountains and we are both too exhausted push on.

The thing is, it’s not so much that we are lost as it is that we are hiding from the Universe itself.  We’ll trudge out of this shitstorm eventually, somehow.  It’s going to be an ugly path.

After all, just look at that vision of hope I have.  I want to see Oren climbing the tree we planted as a memorial to a cousin he won’t ever know, at all.  That is so fucked up and sad it’s impossible to comprehend. But that is my life now, our life.

No matter where we go right now, it is always a cold and terrible night, high in the mountains of despair and we are digging a bitter hole to plant a tree we hate on a beautiful day we despise with our family who we love and a missing impossibility named Silas Orion who is our son.

The peaches that we eat from his tree will make me sick to my soul forever, but I will enjoy every single bite of that sweet flesh.  It will be like having a taste of the memory of my soul’s joy as a snack.  I look forward to the harvest.  It will mean Time has passed.

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