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I’m worn out. Weary. The hoops have won. There are simply too many of them to jump through just to get back to normal.
Away in New Hampshire was the perfect place to hide. I felt like if I stayed in bed, everything would stop. Or the other way around, if I never went to sleep, I’d never have to wake up and face another day.
As always, the leaving was the worst. I woke up at 5am on Sunday morning already rolling through my brain the tangy, bitter bubbles of worries and concern. My stomach was frothing. I made deep breathes unclench my hands, and then I fell back to sleep, for a little while. But soon it was time for goodbyes and a drive.
Every mile brought decisions and responsibilities closer. All of the uncertainty on the horizon made me apprehensive.
Instead of being able to just get up and get shit done, I now have to do a hundred extra things simply to return to a moderate baseline of normality. The anniversary of Silas’ death became the foundation and backdrop to both of Lu’s recent car accidents and although we are grateful that she is fine in both instances, at the same time, we’ve had enough.
Unfortunately, the Universe is bigger than me, so my enough is not a fraction of what the Universe can put forth. Why it has Its Malevolent Eye on me, I do not know but nonetheless, now and then, I still do manage to have fun. For example, today, I was a guest on a show on NPR and truly it was a dream come true.
I have been listening to NPR for 10 years. I cut my Public Radio teeth on WGBH in Boston and the Car Talk guys have kept me smiling on many a brutal weekend mornings this past year. I would give up TV for the rest of my life provided I could keep NPR and the NYTimes. The Internet is non-negotiable, though.
So then today on one hand a dream came true, and on the other, at the garage where my totaled Matrix is stored they had already stuffed it far away in the back even though I called to say I was on my way to empty it completely.
I want the tires, too. I just bought those fucking things along with a clutch 2 months ago and the transmission last year. Maybe it is best to be done with that machine and start over with a fresh Matrix I can drive into the ground on the roads of CT, delivering coffee.
So many hoops, though, just to get back to normal. Finding the car, financing, insurance, title, registration, emissions DMV, DMV… D…M…V. So many actions and requirements that must be executed before I can get back to anything at all like that regular-ole-shit-ass life I’ve come to know and love(?).
The Universe doesn’t stop, though. And it’s bigger than me.
Right now, to be honest, I think It is being a bit of bully.
But whatever, I can take it. I’ve got fresh beer from friends from around the World, and love from so many people. Today I got to be on NP-fucking-R and I got to sound as though I know a few things about coffee. And for today that wins out over the crumpled frame of my totaled car.
The silence is deep. I hear the echoes of what was and what should have been.
Lu in labor then. A first birthday party now.
Instead it is just quiet. The emails only buzz. The phone only blinks, messages of love within.
The humongous sunflower out front is bowed low with the promise of another thousand just like it. Bowed low with sadness too, with the weight of our grief bright and brilliant during this first gorgeous fall.
Every day when I open my eyes, it is the first day that Silas wasn’t here. This year was three hundred and sixty-five of those. Tomorrow will be three hundred and sixty-six.
Every time I can’t believe it. Every time it is true.
But you must excuse me now. I have things to smash.
Everything but the sunflower. The sunflower stays.
I’m not sure how to do this, what to call it or how to get through it. The anniversary of Silas’ birth and death is on Friday which means I am a year deep into this nightmare and still mostly lost.
Our plan is to spend time away with my brother’s family, up in New Hampshire. Their house is cozy and safe, tucked onto a hillside in the midst of trees and trails, the canopy of stars endless above.
Fall is here. The longsleeves and blankets prove it. I knew it had arrived a year ago today, too, when I first cleaned out the birthing pool in the back yard as colored leaves dropped from above.
It is hard to believe I am same the individual that performed those actions and thought the things I did as I was preparing for Silas to be born. The sweet hopefulness and naivety nearly sickens me when I read through what I have written. Perhaps at some point today’s bleak despair will appear equally dated. Only time will tell.
But Time is silent, and can only be discerned by the effect of its action on my mind and soul and the World around me. I know time is passing because of how long I have missed Silas. But Time is a trickster, too, because somehow it feels like I have always been missing Silas. His absence fills my life, even in the parts before he was even a possibility. He is gone from my distant past and my far future just like he is not here with me today.
There is a strange comfort to this time of the year for me now, though. As the weather cools and fall slips in I am powerfully reminded of everything we went through at this time last year. The raw shock and deep despair was suprising last year. Now it is the invisible, impenetrable cloak I wear over my soul every second of every day. This sensation is as close as I will ever get to my missing son.
This weather. This light. The feel of the chilly sheets as I slide into hiding, never to be seen again. These are my thin threads of connection to him, to the time when he was near me. Even though it is shot through with torment and loss, this time of year is his and I’ll take it.
I wish I could just crawl away with the cold snap of the fall breeze and huddle from the ravages of the Universe for a little while, just like I did last September and October. I wish I could pull the Dead Son card, show it to everyone and just walk away. I want nothing. I want to be surrounded by love and left completely alone. I want no decisions. I want an easy ride. I want to hide away and think about Silas and read and write and eat and drink and sometimes maybe go take a walk with Lu.
They must know that I’m not better. I’m just better at hiding the ravages of losing him. He is always not here. That doesn’t change, so that place in me where he should be, that doesn’t change either.
I touch my tattoo every day and say to myself, “This is my son. This is all I have of him.” And then I nod to myself sad and somehow satisfied that I found a way to pull him close and not break down and not fall apart and not shatter into a million razor shards every day, one more time, again.
September again and I’m calm. Sad and fucked up, but calm. Crisis and emergencies are scaled differently once you’ve had your son die. There is nothing about work or money or any of life’s bullshit that comes anywhere near the level of emergency we dealt with last year and therefore, none of it is worth getting too worked up about. Sure the anger is still there, and I do get fired up and pissed off, but they are small, passing events. They have no bearing on the course of my life or the state of my soul.
Now, my soul is set to an impossible superposition where everything is the worst it can possibly be and yet often I manage to cruise through most days mostly happy within that envelope of sadness, somehow finding fun despite a pervasive, bone-crushing despair.
Missing Silas does not preclude enjoying delicious dinners fresh from the farm and garden. Although my son is dead now and before and tomorrow, I have found that the only way to honor him is to not be consumed by the bubbling rage that sometimes burbles to the surface. As much as I would love to hide away, I cannot do it. I don’t have time. There is too much work that I love to do, because autumn is superb coffee weather. It warms me on the inside where I need it most. And no matter where I go, Silas is always with me, silent in my heart.
For me, there are two kinds of Things in the World.
There are the Fixable, and the Unfixable. And really, it is as simple as that.
This month begins the anniversary of the ultimately Unfixable. Losing Silas is something I can learn to deal with or not, but I cannot ever change it.
I figure it is still essentially an even bet at this point. Odds might be slightly leaning in favor of mental stability and longtime survival, but I’ve only had a year to assess, and conditions could change.
I expect this month to be awful, but it won’t be as bad as last October. And at least I know what I’m getting into, on some level. But life is full of surprises.
Even the mundane can be surprising. That I can get out of bed. That I have not slipped silently to the edge of everyday life. That the sunset is beautiful every single time.
So I suppose I should not have been surprised when I got a call from Lu on Sunday morning that I could barely understand at first, because she was sobbing hysterically. She was a in a car accident. No one else was involved. She was fine, completely and totally fine, but the car was not. A spider had startled her and she veered onto the median and then spun out across the highway.
There was a period where she was traveling backwards down the highway, the driver’s side scraping against the right-side guardrail before being spun back out into the center of the road that is impossible to understand. Even more impossibly no cars hit her and she missed all those around her. She spliced into a wormhole and avoided unfixable disaster by an invisible thread of a spider’s web.
Should we feel lucky? I think so. Sure, it will cost some cash to put the car back together new, but really, who gives a shit? I would pay any amount of money to ensure Lu will always be safe. I would offer unimaginable sums to have Silas back. All of that is impossible. Fixing the car is not.
In a way I’ve become immune to the everyday bullshit that gets people down. Lu still feels beset on all sides by dangerous forces. She’s waiting for the good news to change everything about our lives. I’m amazed she still retains that capacity for hope and optimism. The very fact that she believes with all her heart that eventually things will get better proves that her spirit is unquenchable and forward-looking.
I don’t have that. Somehow through my pragmatic realism (read fatalist/pessimist) I manage to stay rather content and at times now even happy. But my baseline for success is extremely basic and direct.
My fundamental goal is to get through the day and not completely freak out because my son is still dead. Every time I do that, I fucking rock.
If I can actually do my job and roast a sweet batch of beans, or find a new account or put another piece together that improves my business and career, well then get out the fucking horns and strobe lights ’cause we’re gonna have a party.
For Interacting With Other Humans Successfully Without Revealing Disaster I give myself a delicious beer. For Making Necessary Phone Calls or Mailing Items At the Post Office I am rewarded with either chocolate or an hour with the paper, or both. For Getting out of Bed, I’m owed a Nap.
I’m not waiting for life to get Lucky for me. I’m have no expectations beyond more of the unexpected, all the time. I don’t think it will ever be better. There will be good times I’m sure, but I’ve seen the darkness. I’ve felt it pervade my being with a terrible and helpless truth that I can never unfeel.
Life is not just what happens to us, but also how we deal with it. I’ve learned, this year, that I can deal with almost anything, somehow or another. I can hold on to the core of my being when reality itself is being torn asunder. I hate the way it feels to be in this life, but it is pain made of up of truth and love and longing that is incredibly raw and real. I have to live extra because Silas could not.
That Lu came so close just the other day is beyond terrifying, beyond thought. Is it appropriate to feel as though something or someone was looking over her the other day? I don’t even believe in that in the least but I cannot help but think it. Can I do that? Can I put Silas in the spots where I need or want him? Can I fill in the mysteries and rare magic with his impossible presence? And once down that path, where does it lead?
Above all, though, there’s at least one thing more I have to know. I can’t get it out of my brain, from the second Lu told me in hysterical shock, when she spun out on 91 and lived to tell about without a scratch or a bump. I could not help but wonder…What happened to the spider? I’m sure it’s still alive. So is Lu. So am I. Some days, though, one year later, I really don’t know how.