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I’m not there yet. Still got a ways to go before the World can pass through me without pain.
I held Naiomi this past weekend and it was great. Didn’t break down or freak out or fall apart. I walked in, saw her in her baby chair, looked directly into her enormous blue eyes and picked her right up. There was no question about it. All of the previous times in her 6 months on this planet that I’ve been with her I devolved into a sodden mess or wigged out on her ultra-newborn-ness.
Now I can begin to get to know her and ensure that someday I’m her favorite.
All the babies I know born since Silas hold a special place in my heart. They are all the almost-mines. They are the what-could-have-beens. They are my surrogate kids.
That’s not to say the ones that came before Silas don’t count at all. In fact, those kids are all my friends already. They are easy. The more recent children take extra effort for me to accept and connect with. I must do it, though. To do otherwise is to nullify his brief existence. But it is so hard.
I hate that feeling, that I have to shy away from the best new parts of my loved ones’ lives. It kills me that I cannot share in the joy of their new children. And it is impossible to feel like that and maintain healthy relationships.
I need my friends. For me, friends are as essential as water and food and sleep. And family, of course, is the thick red of my blood and the invisible light my soul. Together they pull me along into every next day, where somehow, sometimes, it does manage to feel a little better than it did the day before.
That is today, though. That is right now. Tomorrow is a whole other story, and one I cannot even begin to get into until I’m through it and beyond.
I want tomorrow to be wonderful. I want to be free of fear and pain and sadness. I want to trust that the Universe will at least look the other way as we slip by into modest contentment and peaceful dreams. I want to celebrate the arrival of every new child and crush the jealousy and resentment I feel when I see everyone with everything I want but do not have.
It is difficult to contain the complexity of this longing and sadness and love and laughter and depression and brittle strength, and resilient weakness, and despondent determination, and resolute indifference, every day, all the time.
Sometimes I forget how fucked up I am. Sometimes I even feel okay.
I thought holding Naiomi proved that I had transformed and stepped forward. But then the very next day my oldest and bestest friend appeared with his weeks-old-son, and I nearly ran screaming into the woods. I knew they were coming. I was glad they were there. But Henry in his harness and the brutal reality of his beautiful presence was impossible for me to experience.
Even from forty feet away I could sense his newness, and it reminded me inexorably of all the moments I never had with my son Silas.
I want a new way of doing things. There is a serious lack of community in my life that the TV cannot complete. I get it here and there through my work, and I love that part of my life, but the people of my tribe are far too far away.
You should be forced to hang out with people every single day. You should be put in the presence of others so that together you can each figure out what you like to do. A tribe of two is not enough. It’s a start, but it is only that.
We need more than that, anyway. We need the blood of our kin and the love of our friends. We need to share meals and fears, hopes and horrors. We have never been able to do this on our own.
A hawk flew low across the highway, nearly pulling my car off the road with the gravity of its flight. I twisted in my seat following its unfolding path but I didn’t crash. It vanished into my past and I wondered what that could have meant. Some would see portent in the flight of that hawk. Or maybe instead by the murder of crows that rattled far above only moments later.
Maybe the bloom of a flower is a signal for good things to come.
It would be so much easier if I could believe in any of those things.
But if I was part of a tribe there would be the Shaman to sit me down and tell me how to view the World. There would be a Prankster to take me out into the juicy night. There would be a Crowd and a Ruckus, there would be the Rituals. There would be answers?
Instead I know too much about how much I don’t know. Why the flight of one bird out of all the birds I see fly, why should that one have weight and grandeur and depth? Or why not accept the tenet of a Flawed Man, and all the Original Sin we are supposed to carry? Easier to blame forces beyond my control than to accept responsibility for what happened to Silas. I did what I thought was right and that’s all I have to stand on.
So then, perhaps my life is punishment for doing things wrong. All things. Every bad choice I’ve made, here it is laid back on me, stark and utter and raw. I’m a bad person that did bad things and my punishment is never knowing my son. But I refuse that possibility just like I refuse blame. The Universe doesn’t have the time or inclination to pay that close attention to me anyway. And really, I’m not that bad of a guy. Maybe if time flows backwards and I turn out to be a total and complete badass when I’m seventy two then this punishment may start to be deserved, but all that is unlikely at best.
And then there is the Meant To Be crew, and I just can’t get down with that at all. No matter what kind of major douchebag Silas turned out to be, or how contentious our long father-son relationship was, or any other permutation of What Could Have Happened, it is always better if he was here with us tonight. So this was never Meant To Be. This didn’t Happen For a Reason. This happened because sometimes things like this happen.
There is no why. There is only: What’s next? Once I began to start thinking again, a few weeks after that terrible day, I realized the only thing I could do was whatever was the very next thing that needed to be done. I’m better than that now. I can plan ahead again. But when the terror spins up and the grief overwhelms me my focus always comes back to the exact next thing I need to do to make myself feel safe or calm or incrementally better.
Tribes are good for that. The Prankster tricks me out of my maelstrom. The Confidant leans in to listen. The Shaman points at the hawk on wing on the blowing, invisible wind and I wonder if she is telling me something is coming, or if that Silas is here, or just that he is gone, as he is every day of my life.
It would be easier if I had something to believe in and understand implictly, but all that makes sense to me is that they all seem so arbitrary and contradictory. So I concentrate on the facts. We have each other. Our Tribe is robust but spread far and wide. Silas is gone and we will never have him back. And, it is a fact that when I feel the World turn slightly to me and bow, that I take it as a sign that something is definitely going to happen and I better be ready for anything. All the time. That’s my role in the Tribe.
The time has finally arrived. It has been mutually agreed upon that Elm City Mom needs her own blog. Come by and say hi!
(And don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out! He shouted.)