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.