“Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup.”

We have been talking to friends and family, trying to figure out what we do next.  One next thing was to get back into work full-swing.  The initial reconnect with each client has been difficult, but it simply has to happen so that our business can move forward and life can continue.

Roasting at the shop yesterday was both extremely enjoyable and absolutely brutal.  At some point in the middle of the day the thought occured to me that I was never going to have a chance to teach Silas how to roast.  That mangled me for hours.

The thought just kept repeating over and over again and there was nothing I could do to stop it so I stopped trying.  The words drilled into me, searing my mind.  It was similar to my experience in the waiting room of the eye doctor’s office two weeks ago.  But I have found that now I can rethink those thoughts, experience those images and feelings again, and they are not as disabling as they were when I sat there waiting.

So yesterday when it started I just let it happen.  I let the thought of what I would not have ignite my mind and thrash my soul, I let the sickening truth roil my belly and turn my skin slick and icky until tears trickled out.  I have a rule about work, though.  That rule is: No crying at work.  But I didn’t feel like I was breaking that cardinal rule because it was about something other than work, and not work stress at all.  However, later on in the day I did almost break that rule because I was overwhelmed on my first full day roasting.

I had been at it for hours, roasting batch after batch and I was finally bagging up all the orders when I realized I didn’t have quite enough coffee to do everything I needed.  Now, in the grand scheme of things, that is not that big of a deal.  We have hundreds of pounds of green coffee ready for roasting and dinner could wait, but I just couldn’t handle it.

These days, I have no buffer, no safe place in my mind where I can pull back and gain perspective.  Usually I can take a step back when things get stressful and talk myself down from the craziness.  It’s just coffee, it’s no big deal, it’s not brain surgery or the end of the world.  Just coffee.

But I am different now.  Now when I get pissed off and stressed out I can feel the adrenaline rise and the panicky rush suffuse my body like it did that day when Silas was born, to the point that I simply cannot think for a little while.

Fuck it, I tell myself.  Who the hell cares about any of this when my son is dead? I shout back internally at the thoughts raging through my tired brain.  All day I try to tread that razor edge between being okay and thinking about Silas incessantly, and frankly it is exhausting.  Every action, every moment, every thought is fraught with weight and danger.  But coworkers stepped up and helped me out.  I took a few minutes outside to calm and cool and I just kept repeating to myself, over and over again, It’s just coffee, it’s fine, you can do this, just relax.  Eventually the stress lessened, the orders got bagged and I drove away truly pleased that I had tackled a full day of work and only barely broke down twice.

There are going to be many moments when the stress of life overloads my battered defenses.  Even worse, there are going to be many, many times like the one yesterday afternoon when I realize another terrible aspect of this tragedy. Times when I am sideswiped by a stray image or idea and it plows my train of thought into the mountainside.

Every time it happens I am going to do the same thing.  I’m going to let the crash happen, let the thoughts wash over me, let them drill themselves into my brain, let the horror and sadness consume me for a time, and then I will step forward into the light again, out of the firey rage of pain and loss.  It is the only way to do this.  It is the only way I will heal.

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