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Feels like I didn’t even sleep last night, but I did, straight through and riddled with dreams. It went from night to day but I barely even touched the sheets. It wasn’t cause I was up with a kid or anything. I was busy last night in my dreams. There were so many things to do. I almost feel closer to Silas when asleep than awake. I guess I just believe my dreams are probably the best shot I’ve got at somehow encountering his presence.
I yearn for that, especially on a day like this.
Silas would have been 5 months old today. And I don’t even have any fucking clue what to do with that. Do parents have little month parties? I feel like we would. Or maybe we’d talk about it but then decide to save it for his 6 month bday. But all day we’d both be secretly celebrating with him in our own little ways.
The Path of What Should Have Been is still there, daily, but I make a conscious choice not to tread upon it. On days like this, though, I find myself wandering the woods around that path inadvertently, almost obsessively. But I cannot stroll too long because the scenery is catastrophic.
Lu off to class. Me taking Silas to deliver coffee and check out some shops. The MMW kid’s album I’d play for him as we drove. Seeing grandmom in our travels this afternoon. Tonight we’d meet up with Mom and maybe make a first attempt at a restaurant meal. Not because it’s his 5 monther, no, not that. Just because maybe we could and that would be awesome.
Ahem. Yeah. Cannot go there all the time. It is unspeakably painful. So then, on this World I must focus. The problem is, it also feels mentally unhealthy to keep not-thinking-about something. But what I am doing is the opposite of denial. I’m trying to accept the World as it is and yet, on a day like this, that feels totally and completely wrong.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to deliver that coffee, I’m going to play music of an utterly different variety (dark, edgy & loud), I’m going to check out some coffeehops, I’m going to stop by and see my Mom, I’m going to stop at a local pub and have a beer and read the paper. Later on, Lu and I will meet up with friends and we’ll have a delicious dinner in a nice restaurant with loud jazz and then when we get home tonight we’ll light a candle for Silas and then I’ll tear the house down with my bare hands. Ahem! No, not that. We will cry and then we will sleep and then I will dream and then maybe somewhere in those depths I will find my missing son.
Please send our friends Brad & Christa and their sweet little baby Carly some healing vibes today. She is getting yet another surgery to replace the shunt and get her feeling like herself. We really hope this time it works so she doesn’t have to go through this again.
Send them some blog love if you can.
I am not a mom. I know you all will tell me that’s really not true, but it feels true to me. I don’t have a baby to hold, bathe, feed, or read good night. I don’t have a baby who wants only their mama. I watch my friends and sister-in-law with their kids and its not the same. I birthed a baby boy, but he’s not here in my arms. I don’t get to mother him, to be a mom, have a baby call me mama or only want me and no one else. I was pregnant, I was in labor, I gained the weight, but I don’t have my baby.
That part is still a struggle. I still have the weight. I don’t look or feel like myself. My grief is physical as much as it is emotional. There was a baby inside me, I felt him with every part of my being. He was part of me. Now he’s not here to share his life with me. My whole body aches from this loss. My body still has the hormones coursing through. My belly still has those unnatural curves and rolls that were not there before. My hips are wider, my clothes don’t fit. I am uncomfortable in my own skin. I walk down the street a different person. People look at me and they don’t know what happened which makes me so uncomfortable. There is no baby slung close to my body or in a stroller. When others look at me, they don’t see a mom who is carrying extra weight from carrying that cute baby she’s pushing along. They see an unhappy woman who is not herself.
As a yoga teacher for kids- I know better. I know this extra weight doesn’t change the person I am inside. I know that it doesn’t really matter. But it kinda does. It does because it symbolizes so much more then just extra weight. It’s there for a reason, and doesn’t want to leave. I’m working at it, working hard at losing it, but its still there. Somehow movie stars lose the weight and look perfect a month after their baby is born. Almost 5 months out and I look the same. I don’t have breastfeeding to help, I have to motivate myself to do this, to make the changes, to stay active, to eat well and to take care of myself. Its such an uphill battle, one I sometimes don’t know if I have the strength for.
Everyone says I’m so hard on myself, but really, do any of you women like being 20 lbs overweight? Not really. It just makes getting dressed a really unpleasant experience. Try getting into a bathing suit in the middle of winter. Yeah, that really sucked. But I work hard to not let it matter. I try to focus on my mental health, on just getting through my day in one piece. But I’m just uneasy. Everything in my life is making me uneasy and I feel it in my whole body.
Part of me believes that getting pregnant again will make some of that uneasiness go away. The other part of me believes that it will never go away. That getting pregnant is only a band aid that can’t heal the real pain inside. I dream every night of the moment my baby is placed on my chest. Silas being placed on my chest only seconds after he was born seems like a dream. He was there and taken away before I even had a chance to look at his beautiful face, or give him kisses or really feel his skin against mine. My body longs for a new baby to grow inside. My body is obviously still hanging on to that last pregnancy, it doesn’t seem to want to let it go. This part of me that is still hanging on is longing for that baby to hold and kiss and love.
I keep looking for Silas in the pieces of the World, but I can’t find him. It is only in the ink on my arm, in the ache in my heart, in the searing images in my mind of his brief life that I can find him.
I wish those rainbows filled me with the light of his presence. But they don’t. I wish I could see instants of happiness or luck or beauty as his hand at work. But I can’t.
He feels so far away from me that it takes effort to find ways to hold him close. He is beyond my reach, beyond my thoughts. Silas is flying away from me faster than the speed of light, beating time every second he races on into the heart of the Universe, as I stand here on Earth slowly spinning around this dim, distant sun.
When he left he took something from me, something I will never get back. But that’s okay, I want him to have it. That missing piece fits perfectly as the place I can fill with my love for him. The empty ache in the shape of my son is as close as I can get to having him with me.
As always, now, I will take what I can get, even if it is only the pain of Nothing.
There is this particular kind of rain that happens in Panama called the Bajareque. It comes at you sideways, the sun still shining up in the sky. They say you never get wet because as it hits you, the wind dries you off. We did get wet, but yeah, it was super windy too. The weather was definitely not on our side this week. We went to Panama to relax and to have the sun beating down on us, healing from the inside out. There was this expectation that oh yeah, of course that would happen. Who would have thought they would have stormy weather the exact week we were there. Of course everyone kept saying how unusual this was this time of year.
We arrive in Boquete, up in the mountains where all the coffee farms were, and it was unreal. Billboards and power lines were down all over, no cell phone service, the rivers were flooding, it was chaos. Kind of like my life right now. I wanted peace, calm, sun.
“Ok” I thought, “I can handle this, we are in Panama, its still kinda warm, we aren’t home, we are on vacation, just relax.”
But it wasn’t as warm as I’d hoped and I didn’t have enough warm clothes, I was wet and cold. I just felt tired of being ok with things not working out the way I’d hoped. But, Boquete ended up being fun, we got to do what we wanted to regardless of the weather. The sun came and went and we got to see ridiculous rainbows. With Bajareque, because the sun is still shining overhead there are rainbows. The rainbows blew me away. I don’t think I have ever seen anything so vibrant and so beautiful.
I had a really challenging time leaving my shit at home while I was on this vacation. So badly I wanted to feel peace, and feel happy- I mean, look where I was? But yet, I seemed to be sadder then ever. I guess because this was our consolation prize. We didn’t get the baby so here we are, on this wonderful vacation. Like Chris said in the last post, you have nothing to be jealous about so please, keep that word away from me. You don’t want my life, trust me. I’ve always believed that anyone can do anything they set their mind to- that’s how we live. We have always lived the life we’ve wanted to, even with no money. We do what we want and we work hard. So if you really want to go on a nice vacation, then do it. Just don’t tell me you are jealous of mine.
Getting from Panama City to the deserted Kuna island – Isla Pelikano, took many hours and lots of patience. We were up before the sun, heading out to a teeny plane that would take us to Carti. From there we had an hour boat ride to the island, but this was if the weather was in our favor. Of course, it wasn’t, the sea was choppy and rough and the boat ride was long and painful. Every time the waves crashed over me, I let out another sob, for Silas, for me, for the sun that refused to shine. The expectation that we would have beautiful weather and that this trip would be easy, fun, relaxing, was just not happening.
Those damn expectations. I expected to have an almost 5 month old right now. I expected to be happy. I expected that my life would have continued to go the way I had imagined it would go. But it hasn’t, it isn’t and it’s not. I continue to have these endless expectations of friends to follow through, or the weight to have come off already or to be pregnant by now. I am starting to feel like it’s better to just have none. None at all, and then be pleasantly surprised when things are good. Luckily for me, I have a husband who knows how to talk to me, to make me smile, to make me laugh and to calm me down when I fall into my spiral of doom.
We had a wonderful 3 days on the island, with each day getting sunnier then the last. I was able to soak in the hot sun, some instant Vitamin D that my body craved so badly. I spent a lot of time on this trip crying and being sad. I can’t leave my shit, it’s baggage that I take with me everywhere. Maybe someday I will leave it, and feel lighter and free, but right now, its not possible. The Bajareque continues to pound me, no matter where I am, I can’t escape it. I do know that with it comes the rainbows, and the sun, and for that, I am thankful.
We can feel how much everyone wanted this trip to heal us and we appreciate the sentiment. We needed sun and silence and a chance to relax and recharge. The problem is, even though we packed light, we can’t help but carry a lot of baggage with us.
Silas wasn’t with us and the weight of his absence meant we had to work hard to appreciate the beauty around us. It was an effort to let go enough to face the challenges and turn them into adventures. Wind and rain, high seas and flooding rivers, downed cellphone towers and powerlines snaking across old mountain roads all required a certain amount of good-humor and resilience to achieve a state of calm happiness.
That used to be easy for us. No more.
But on the other hand, none of those things are as tough as facing every day without our son, so we got it done.
I’m proud of us for putting ourselves out there in uncertain circumstances, for going with the flow, for standing up in the wind, leaning forward and taking every next step.
I think a lot of people would have sought out a much more chill vacation in our circumstances. A resort where every whim was anticipated might seem like the right way to go. Hours by the pool just reading, luxurious dinners under dim candles and three spa treatments every afternoon could be how some go about things.
Not us. We push it every time. In fact, the time spent doing nothing but kicking-it beside the pool or laid out in the hammock were actually far tougher than they would seem. Too much quietness gave my brain the space to think about how wrong it was to be where we were, even though I was so glad we were there.
But that wrongness is ever-present. It doesn’t vanish no matter where we stand on the planet. Whether I’m laid out on the couch watching our big, new TV or swinging inches above the ground atop a mountain in the sea it remains a struggle to feel confident and safe and beautiful and free.
So let’s call it like it is, with no bullshit or illusions.
Yes, the mountains of Boquete, Panama were impressive and the coffee farm we visited was amazing and educational. We hiked in the wind and rain to see coffee trees sprouting from the steep hillsides and loved every second of it.
Indeed, Panama City was gorgeous and the hospitality of our friend Mat was beyond impeccable. From the Old City in the center of town to the stunning marvel that is the Panama Canal to the many delicious meals we enjoyed, the urban aspects of this trip were tons of fun.
Without a doubt, our friends Andrea & Christian were incredible travel-companions: hilarious, compassionate, patient and attentive. They listened when we needed ears and laughed when we need lightness and held us when we needed hugs.
And finally, even though the three hour boat-ride through wind-tossed seas had me fearing for our lives and safety, when we finally reached that tiny Isle of the Pelicans in the San Blas islands, I experienced a powerful sense of pride to go along with the majestic beauty of that tiny dot of land. No matter where you stood on the island, you could see its sandy edge and the ocean beyond through a grove of palm trees and simple thatch huts where we slept.
But don’t be jealous of us. You don’t want our lives. You don’t want to feel the cold ache within that we live with even as our skin browns (burns!) in the hot tropical sun.
Be proud of us. Be happy that we can do something like this so soon after our terrible loss. Don’t think for a second that this was all we needed to make everything better or that we ever stopped thinking about what it was we should have been doing all cozy in the New England cold with our swaddled son and his infant cries. That never stops no matter where we are, and we simply cannot help it.
This was good for us, undoubtedly. This trip absolutely helped us take a few more steps forward through our grief, it reminded us that we are still capable and competent even though we are deeply wounded. Our friends held us up and pushed us forward. We laughed, we feasted, we worshiped the stunning full moon above and cheered the diving pelicans just off the shore and shouted with glee when the Rummy cards fell our way. Our noses were buried in books. Our flip-flopping feet were covered in sand.
I guess we can make anything look easy, but don’t be fooled by the tan. It will peel away in a few days and underneath we’re still Silas’ lost parents and that hurts with a burn that nothing can block and no salve can soothe.
We are truly grateful, though, for the good wishes and love you have all sent our way. We are very very thankful to have friends that could tolerate our melancholy and help us see the beauty around us and even as we struggled to reconcile our internal darkness with bright sun above.
We wrestle with these contradictions every day and somehow, sometimes for a moment we even manage to win. This week was a victory. This week was awesome, even though we missed our son.
Driving is my thinking time. I don’t ruminate before bed because once I grab onto a string of thought it inevitably leads to a whole tapestry of ideas and perspectives that keep me agitated and alert. Work worries weave into thoughts of Silas that spin me into tight knots, wide awake.
I can stare into a pitchblack room with my eyes open and searching, or I can use the back of my eyelids to examine my thoughts. Neither lead to sleep. Instead, usually, the soft azure glow of my Blackberry’s screen soothes me into slumber as I read about tomorrow’s news. It’s a trade-off. I don’t need a headlamp when I read off of that tiny machine, but it doesn’t have the warm texture of aged pages in a used book.
Either way–be it digital or analog–before bed, I read. It used to be just a habit. Now it is a tactic and a refuge from the spinning thoughts that pull me awake every night.
Those spinning thoughts are safer to untangle as I drive. The active motion forward seems to make me think fast and lucid. I’m already processing the world at eighty miles an hour as other huge machines hurtle by and that makes my internal dialogue rapid and precise. My mental monkeys piggyback on the velocity of my motion down the road.
Yesterday I left the house fast, grabbing what I needed as I raced out the door. It was warmer than it has been, but the sun was positioned so that it blasted my eyes through the passenger window, utterly blinding everyone in their cars on that corner of 95 just north of New Haven. I sailed through on instinct and we all made it on up the road. But then a sudden pang twanged through my belly. I was starving.
Dinner the night before had been on the early side and I wasn’t all that hungry, so I didn’t each much. Now, just shy of noon, hunger was roiling my stomach. There was a huge gaping emptiness at the center of my belly and suddenly my 80mph brain jumped a divider following a thinly threaded thought and I found myself on the same road I sometimes travel with Silas.
I am hungry for my son, I realized. The physical hunger for lack of food resonated within that deeply empty place in my soul. It was like invisible gongs clanging through my belly or like a swallowed Ohmm that went stale and burpy. It felt like the inside of me was attached to the most endless place in the entire Universe. It was hunger, but it was my soul’s hunger in a way I have never ever felt before.
I wanted to devour the sight and scents and sounds of Silas every day as he grew. I wanted to fill myself all the way up with his new life and new perspective on our World. His life was going to be a feast for my heart and my spirit.
I drove on, the sobbing subsided, the physical hunger slowly slipped away, and the sun slid higher into the sky. My eyes flickered from mirror to mirror and then out the windshield in front of me.
But it could have been that blackened room before sleep. It could have been the insides of my eyelids. My sight took in the 80mph road and the cars around me, but my gaze was focused deep within.
There is a knot in my thoughts that no fingers can untie. A part of me will always be starving without him. Somehow I have to deal with that longing as it grows tighter and deeper and more fundamental to my being.
Words seem to help me. The ones I read and the ones I write. Digital or analog, spoken or written. The words of my wife and my friends, old and new, and of my family that is essential to my life, their words and their actions help me heal and become whole.
We are wounded but we move because what’s coming must be better than what we’ve got today. Sometimes I’m amazed that I’m up and about in the world, but there’s nothing else I can do. Forward is the only choice, even if I’m starving and tangled every step of the way.