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The wind and rain whipped me into a tailspin. I thought I was ready for Monday after a relaxing weekend but by noon I was already soaked 3x, stranded at home and once again frustrated by the unyielding bullshit of banks, the entropy of automotive parts and the relentlessness of life.
It never stops. Just when it feels like we might be getting our heads above water there’s something else clutching at my cuffs, pulling me below.
I’ve learned to hold my breath indefinitely.
Pulled down, down, down, down, down, and I hold it in me. I hold a bit of light, a snatch of hope, a whisper of love, all of them deep in the depths of my lungs and I let the oxidized, leaden bullshit wrapped around my ankle pull me right to the bottom.
This is where most people freak out. This is where most start to smash things and scream and shout and rage.
That’s how I used to be. I’ve changed though. Getting all worked up like that is too scary, now. What was before just a pissed off tantrum at life’s crap has become a dangerous step into total breakdown, into unending tears, into that utter and complete despair I feel all too close in my past.
So I don’t freak out. I stay calm. I hold my breath and tighten my soul and I let the weight pull me straight to the bottom. Down there I have a beer and look around. I know this place. I’ve been here before many times. Always managed to pop back up to the surface eventually so now I just know to wait it out and stay calm.
The pressure is nothing. The breathlessness is unremarkable. The dim vision and chill is warm compared to the darkness and cold I’ve felt. Just bullshit, this. Just normal everyday life. Cars need to be fixed. Bank reps need to be dealt with. Nothing here today is life and death. None of this is anywhere near as bad as losing Silas. But Bandha’s passing has put me on edge and the depths feel closer than they have in a while. It is easy to flounder while missing our little kitty suddenly and our son for so long.
I see that the knot in the rope holding me under looks like the word Silas. The swishes and loops and straight line, I know them inside and out so I know what I have to do. I find that final loose end. I find it and whisper his name and with a light tug the knot falls apart and I am free.
Slowly, I rise to the surface waiting patiently to breathe again.
Once again, my heart is split open. I can feel it as an actual ache just behind my breastbone. It’s the place that provides momentum when my mind can’t handle the pain. I’m still not sure how we made it to the vet tonight but I guess I’m pretty good at driving through tears.
Our kitty cat Bandha was diagnosed with bone cancer of the jaw about six weeks ago. The cancer was aggressive and tonight we had to let him pass, and it was awful. He was such a comfort to us after Silas left us so quickly, and now he’s gone too.
Lu will have up pictures of our big, quirky kitty soon. We’ll always miss you little guy. Thank you for all the love over the years.
Orion from both sides of the Earth.
Someday I would love to see it on a warm summer night from a beach in Australia.
These days as I drive west through the darkness along the coast of Connecticut on I95 the constellation of Orion is splashed across the southern sky, just above the horizon. Despite the distance of those myriad stars, it is still almost too bright for me to look at. That, and then there’s the threat of driving off the road if I stare out the driver-side window for too long.
I know that it is not him, not in any real way, but I cannot help feeling the whisper of his presence when I see those stars.
I listen for Silas above the thumping drums and screeching guitars I have blasting in the car on my way home. I listen to see if he’s speaking to me, but mostly I just hear the din of my voices arguing and rehearsing the narrative of my soul. Agreement between them all is rare. Mostly what I do is made of momentum and habit.
There I was driving along thinking of what Death has taken from me, reflected in those stars above. Thinking of how well I know It now and how deep and terrifying It lies nearby, like the darkness flashing past wooden and forested. And then that song out of no where like a deer or a moth or a shooting star.
The stars, the song, the speed of my lonely car and me telling me what I think about it all.
I rarely even see the what-if-World anymore. There is no empty, ghostly carseat behind me. There is no other schedule all tangled with child-care and life. There is only what is: around me, above me, within me, without.
Those stars are not him but their slight, whispery light and impossible, infinite dust, they are so close to me as I drive; closer than Death. Closer than his life.
They are brilliant, and they shine on me all the way home to Lu.
Friday night and we’re off to hang with some friends. It is easy, we just walk out the door when we’re ready to leave.
Am I supposed to enjoy the freedom I don’t want, or lament the confines I don’t have?
I refuse to stop living my life but I’m almost disgusted by how easy it is for either of us to do whatever we want.
Friends juggle their lives four-handed to keep up with everything their family requires and in contrast there I stand. Loose. Lonely. A little lost without Silas, every time.
I can come and go. I can change plans on the fly or completely check out if I need to. What would so many parents give to have that ease and freedom, sometimes?
I know what I would give to have things the other way.
Or almost, anyways. Except for Lu. She’s mine forever, too.
Then out we go. Two in bodies into the cold, and three in our hearts every time.
Thank you all for your kinds words in response the last post and all the times before. I sorta figured I’d lost everyone when I took a break from posting, but I just didn’t have it in me for a while there. Thanks for sticking with me.
Last week I read this book review of “The Other Side of Sadness”, by George A. Bonanno and I’m looking forward to reading the book itself.
The parts that that really popped out for me were:
-“His conclusion: the bereaved are far more resilient than anyone — including Freud, and the bereaved themselves — would ever have imagined.”
-“People can be sad at times, fine at other times. The level of fluctuation is ‘nothing short of spectacular’; the prevalence of joy is ‘striking.'”
In my experience all of that is exactly true. I’ll let you know what I think when I get the book in hand and finish it off.
I needed a holiday break. My mind went quiet even as my soul raged against what again we did not get to share with our son.
No highchair at the Thanksgiving table. No presents under the tree for him.
So instead of trying to parse the brutality of that reality, I just shut down. I went into hunker-down-mode and tried to stay focused on what needed to be done to get through the many Happy Holidays I did not feel at all.
Overall it went okay at best. I probably seemed better than I felt. Thanksgiving was as tough as I expected it to be, but Christmas caught me a little off-guard. I guess I thought I was doing better than I was, because I really did not expect to be as destroyed as I felt. I thought I’d gotten used to missing him, but that day with family all around except for him was awful.
Even though he has been gone for over a year I still feel his absence as though he was just taken from me yesterday.
I doubt that will ever change, and I wonder how it is that friends and acquaintances don’t seem to realize that all of this is the case. To this day I am shocked by the baby-centric conversations I have to endure around people that should know better.
Do they think Silas was like the flu? That his death was something to be endured during the acute phase and then thoroughly healed with some chicken soup and a good night’s sleep? Or is it just easier for them to forget in a haze of denial and positive-thinking that this is all still very real and present for me? Either way it doesn’t work and so I do what I’ve always done in this situation. I walk away.
For a while there, I even had to walk away from my own mind because facing his absence through another cheery season of joy and light was wrenching and unbearable.
But I refuse to give up. I’ve come to the conclusion, finally, that his death will not destroy me. It could have and perhaps it still can, but I think I’ve at least reached the stage where I know that I will endure and I will not be some kind of mutilated, desolate soul. There’s no doubt I will visit those barren places again, there’s no way to avoid them. They are part of the landscape I inhabit.
But I will not linger there. I will not be poisoned by his death. I will not let blame and anger and hate and rage consume me beyond reckoning. Those fires will flash through my soul many times, I’m sure, but now, finally I know I can withstand the heat and tears and walk out the other side intact.