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Dare I write? Dare I start down this path again with Lu’s second pregnancy?
I’ve had the urge to go back and read what I wrote about each of the stages of her carrying Silas, but frankly, I’m scared. I’m scared of the innocence and naivety in my writing from that time. I’m scared of being confident and cocksure that everything is going to go perfectly this time. I’m scared of reading that confidence in my past posts now knowing how wrong I was.
I’ve considered putting this blog to rest altogether, and let it stand as is, as a testament to Silas’s brief time with us. Instead I could start a new one to chronicle these next nine months.
I’ve also entertained the idea that I shouldn’t write at all this time. That perhaps the words themselves were the jinx that took him from us, and how dare I risk that again?
But I hate being afraid, and I don’t believe this blog was a jinx in any way.
I also hate it when I tell people Lu is pregnant and they say “Oh how exciting, you’re going to be a father!”
I want to correct them and tell them NO, I *might* become a father. It could happen. I hope more than anything that I do become a father. But for now I’m just a potential-father. A Maybe-Dad. A hopefully-father-to-be, if the Universe allows it. If genetics and nature line up just-so. If we are as lucky this time as we were unluckly last.
For the last 3 nights I’ve barely slept. My stomach was bloated and roiling and my mind could not find the path to quiet slumber. Once I hit 4:30am and I was still awake, again, the knowledge that I was fucked for tomorrow made it even harder to still my thoughts and drift away. Even pointless tv couldn’t shut me down. Finally at 6am pure exhaustion took over and I slept for a few hours, but when I had to get up for work I was in slow-mo, and that stayed all day.
So much of our focus was just getting to this point. Yet, it took so long, it felt like it was never going to happen. I had to train my brain to think only of right now, of this, of here. Now we are ‘expecting’ and I am terrified of expectations. The stress and fear mixed with hope and love has me in knots. In order to stay sane I’ve taught myself to be happy enough with whatever was right in front of me. So that’s exactly what I’m going to keep on doing.
Today Lu is pregnant. A tiny, beautiful heart beats within her. Her boobs are bodacious and her skin has an amazing glow. She’s been tired and off to bed early and I’m trying to make her take it as easy as I can, but she’s not one for slowing down for anything. Today she woke up and felt like she might be getting a little cold, but that could just be her body reacting to the pregnancy. After all, that happened last time, I checked.
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.
My desk is a disaster. It is a reflection of my inner turmoil, and I welcome the comfort of its chaos. But there is a traitor amidst the madness. There must be. It’s the only explanation for all the bullshit we’ve had to endure.
So a pogrom has begun. One by one I’m evaluating and discarding my favorite objects and items. There’s the highlighter I never use in a tall, brown ceramic cup of uncertain origin. The tiny metal buddah isn’t facing me, and I wonder about its intentions. Then there’s Boba Fett, gun raised, standing next to the Mexican skull-headed figure with a broken arm, a bottle of beer and a jaunty cigarette. All suspect. I need firecrackers for both of them.
Spoons and wrenches, magazines I’ve long finished, business cards from across the spectrum of sales all clutter the space around where my arms rest as I type these words. But even the keyboard is suspicious now. I spurn pens at the first sign of faltering.
There must be a Betrayer. There must be an active force tugging at the most delicate strings of our souls because otherwise the explanation is eternally bleak.
It sucks to feel like bad luck. I hate that other people look at us and go whoa, what the fuck, that is some bad luck coming down on them. To the Secreters & Manifesters, we caused this by our bad thoughts. By the Pagan book it’s a malicious gnome. To the Fundies of Various Religions it is clearly Punishment for our Sins. Others of a more secular variety just cite big ole Bad Luck. And for the Superstitious, we’re Cursed.
I’ve never been much of a part of the latter, but these days that feels the most true, as well as utterly ridiculous.
But when you’ve hit the shit lottery in life, utterly ridiculous is eminently plausible. Otherwise there’s no way we could be here. This new life only a year old is preposterous every day.
I’m open to the possibility of extremely small odds. I am a living example of infinitesimal statistics.
The death of our son caused our lives to spiral into despair. We clawed our way back into some semblance of normalcy, only to be constantly challenged every month when we are not pregnant again. It is like swimming into the surf only to be pounded into the sand with every stroke, every tide.
Last month, the false-positive on the Piece Of Shit digital preggers stick was a step too far on a hike that should have never even started. Car accidents before that. Financial woes. Family illness. Cold nights without heat. The many slices of life’s razor have forced me to be hard and wary. I’m skeptical of everything except for Lu, the love of friends and family, and that shit is going to be more fucked up every damn year.
It is time to purge. We already had the opportunity to discard our possibly-cursed cars, and now we’ve started fresh. One of the new machines is a time-tested Lovevan from our friends. Many a ridiculous night has been transported by said mini-van. It’s a Quest and that fits. We’re on a quest for something better too.
My new auto has an extra speed and 100k less miles, which is totally fantastic. It’s also quicker and tighter with a Celica transmission instead of Corolla. I can feel the difference in torque and response every time I jump onto the Merritt from a dead stop into zipping traffic.
It can’t stop there, though. Next are the tiny talismans on my desk. Smashed and twisted. Then the Ward of Eyes Evil from above our threshold and the angled mezuzah on our doorjamb. Shattering for one. A slow burn for the other. What good are they? Maybe the vortices of their competing protective energies canceled out one another and allowed our son to be taken from us.
Or could it be this apartment itself? This town? I’ve never felt an instance of malevolence from either of them, but maybe my Evil Radar is on the fritz. I look forward to coming back to these walls and floors every time I’m away. In the spring and summer the backyard is an oasis of growing vegetables, warm sun and cool breezes. The kitties chase squirrels or just laze about as I read the paper or fire up the grill. When friends and family are here this place feels like a party, and even alone on a cold autumn afternoon, it feels like home.
It can’t be cursed. It would feel icky and weird, wouldn’t it? Don’t the Cursed Things have an extra squeaky sheen to them? Can’t you feel the slippery deviance of their very atomic structure?
Or perhaps therein lies their insidiousness. The tainted piece of reality is invisible as evil and therefore impossible to eradicate.
It could be a cushion of the used couch we bought last year. Maybe our table is possessed with a very slow, inert demon. Or how about that water heater? I’ve always hated the way it made the laundry room smell.
One by one I’m getting rid of it all even as Lu stands there shouting at me, asking what the hell I’m doing.
“I’m fixing things” I tell her and continue my methodical eradication of everything that could contain the terrible vibration that is destroying our lives.
But then in the end, there’s only us, she and I, side by side, the apartment demolished before us. The cars are fresh and clean so we can live in them, but maybe it goes even deeper. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the Curse that destroyed our future. I guess I’ll start with my teeth and then go for my fingernails until things start to improve.
I hope I figure out what it is before too long because Lu is starting to look at me a little funny and there is not much left to get rid of. Soon the whole planet will be a candidate for expulsion and I just don’t have time for all of that.
I want to grab ahold of the World, turn it upside down and shake everything loose. I want the sad, depressing, difficult parts to fall away, to vanish into the ether, so that when I turn it all right side up again, all we’ve got left are the good pieces. The thing is, I’m not even sure if I could figure out which was which.
I can’t get my arms around the World, either, and I’m not strong enough to lift it. Besides, the vigorous shake I would give it would do nothing more than rattle everything around. Probably break a few things in the process. Nice things like summer days would end up cloudy and muddied. And I’ve had enough of the rain to last for a good long while. Best for me to just sit here, nearly motionless, my only action the turn of the page of the newspaper I hide behind like a shield.
Ensconed by the fences of our yard I choose to enjoy the warm air and sunlight. With an almost-imperceptible effort that is oh-so-familiar to me now, I decide that today’s beauty will not cut me to pieces. It is a choice, though. It is all too easy to let the grief and despair dominate.
This doesn’t get easier. It’s not better today than it was any yesterday. In some ways it is even worse, because now there’s been all this time to think about what happened, and to more fully realize how deep losing him goes.
He is gone but we are still here waiting for him. And everyone we know is looking back at us from their bright and lively futures. I don’t feel that sense of future. It is all just one long, brutal Now that started the moment we lost him. Because that cannot and will not ever change it is difficult to feel that anything has changed at all.
Now I am exactly montionless, because even reading has stopped. Only my thoughts remain moving as I twist around and around how today the World is the same because Silas is not here. Tears flow down my cheeks but I don’t wipe them away. There are still so many more to come and I have no where to go.
It was a strange feeling, driving home from the tattoo shop with my friend (and amazing artist) Cindy. I was thrilled and proud of what she had just put on my arm. I felt more correct and complete with this transformation revealed. But I was sad, too. Sad that this was what I had to do. That this is all I get.
I could create an endless list of all the moments I will not have with Silas. I live them all in my heart every day. His swift passage through our lives has changed us irrevocably. But that is not something you can see just by looking at us. We appear as though we’re just regular ole people strolling through the world.
Now there is proof.
To reflect the change within, to honor our son, to remind us with both pain and beauty, to capture the raw and terrible truth of this time in our lives, for all of these reasons we have decided to have permanent marks placed on our skin.
Everyone else gets birthdays and love and laughter and first words. We got tattoos. It totally and completely fucking sucks but at least we have this. It’s not nearly as much as we want or deserve, but it’s more than we had before that inky needle pierced our skin, and that, at least, is something.
These tattoos are not lousy. They are beautiful and heartbreaking and perfectly correct. We are thrilled that our dear friend Cindy created these designs for us and then took the many careful hours to place them in our skin.
They will be with us forever, just like Silas.
The holidays are almost here, and I must admit I am quite apprehensive. We expected these holidays to be the best ones of our lives, because we would be sharing them with our brand new son. But just like everything else in our lives, they have been flipped over and turned around, transformed into something grueling and raw and painful.
Thanksgiving, eh? More like Thanks-for-nothing. I just do not have much gratitude to spare for this past year. Although I am thankful that Lu is healed and healthy, and that we have each other and our family and our friends to help us along, it is all cold comfort compared to the what-should-be.
The godddam what-should-be. It is inescapable. But I should have known that there really is no ‘should be’ in this world. There is only what is and what isn’t. And this isn’t going to be fun.
One thing that was very nice was the way our families took the time to speak with Lu and I and to see what we wanted to do for Thanksgiving this year. We had the veto option where we could have said we wanted it to be a small family affair instead of the multi-family party that it always is in each of our houses. That felt wrong to us, though. Changing the way we celebrated the holiday by excluding our extended family would have made it even worse in some ways. It would have revealed just how powerfully screwed up we are, that we had to cancel Thanksgiving because we couldn’t handle it.
The fact is, we can handle it. There will be tough moments for sure, but that’s our everyday life now. The hardest moments are the ones we each have to go through all by ourselves: in the car alone with an invisible carseat, half-asleep in bed on another empty morning, caught stricken in public when we’re asked some innocuous question by a stranger, those are the moments no one can protect us from.
At least during Thanksgiving we will be surrounded by people we love who will ask nothing of us and simply shower us with care and support and insist upon laughter because we just can’t help ourselves when we’re around our amazing families. We refuse to let the cruelty of the Universe dictate our lives. We will push through no matter how difficult that day will be without Silas there with us.
I will stuff myself with turkey and sweet potatoes and beers and gravy. I will retreat to the bathroom or out back to shed tears if need be. I will play with my beautiful young cousins and chase Oren around the house with a grin plastered to my face. I will hang with my bros, I will get hugs from my aunts and taunts from my uncles. I will listen to my father swear at the world as he gets Mom situated, the table set up, and food out of the oven.
And in my heart I will try to be thankful for the few brief hours that Silas was with us, but I have my doubts about being able to overcome the gaping chasm of loss that has hollowed out my guts.
I guess that just leaves more room for turkey.
Turns out destroying the apartment won’t bring Silas back. Sure, it would get out some aggression, but I’d still end up pissed off because of the huge mess I would have to clean up. I’ve thought it through and it’s just not worth it. Even though a torn apart apartment would more accurately reflect my inner state, I’m going to allow our living space to remain habitable in an attempt to achieve that same cleanliness and order within me.
It is a choice, though. Over and over again I have to choose to not smash things. To not hurl chairs around. To not put a beer bottle through the television from 10 feet away with a nice sidearm fling. I choose to get up in the morning instead of staying in bed for days on end.
I choose to be polite to people who do not know my son just passed away, to not answer their innocuous questions truthfully, to not tell them I would love to have their problems instead of this pile of shit we’ve been handed. I try to be understanding about the many trials that every individual encounters instead of assuming that my tragedy trumps all. I choose to smile and hide the stark dread that lives in the muscle memory just below my skin.
What was automatic before has become a conscious effort.
This keyboard should be melting from the heat of my rage. How everything I touch remains intact instead of combusting I do not fully understand. The world is ashen and dusty, filled with unimportant detritus that distracts from the gaping Abyss that we skitter beside every day of our lives. I choose to embrace those distractions so I am not blinded and destroyed by Oblivion itself.
I choose to accept love and support. I choose to face the world directly and let it smash itself on the perfectly sharp edge of my soul. The Universe has seared me and hammered me into this shape. I am a weapon, now.
I am one dumb question and moment of impatience away from cutting conversations in half and wounding people with gentle and honest words about Silas. I choose to keep my soul sheathed and protected because I can feel an urge, an urge so strong, to tell anyone who asks that friendly question exactly how I am doing and exactly how much I miss Silas and exactly how sad I feel all the time because I want them to know so that for a moment maybe they can understand just how good they have it.
Anyone that does not feel the way Lu and I do right now has a gift they do not even know they have. They don’t have to choose to be happy. Happy just happens. I used to be that way. I am jealous of that past self.
But everyone has sadness in their lives. Everyone experiences the loss of a loved one at some point and I have to remember that fact when I begin to feel the agitation and anger start to rise. This tragedy is our personal horror but no one is free from death’s stillness. I choose to look beyond our own terrible experience to remind myself that we are not alone.
And we aren’t alone, we know that, despite the deep, solitary ache we both feel. Everyone that shares this burden with us gives us a gift of immeasurable value. We do not take lightly the tears shed for Silas, the happiness discarded to experience our pain, the candles lit in his name.
Now, whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed in the midst of daily life when offhand words ignite the sadness in my soul, I choose to be silent or politely respond, but in my heart I say his name, and I tell him I love him and I always will. I tell him I miss him miss him miss him so much I can barely see and then I remember I’m in the middle of a conversation and that if I want to appear normal, I have to pay attention to what is being said. Sometimes I choose to listen and participate. Sometimes I am lost.
Inside, I’m still whispering to Silas, and choosing to breathe instead of burst.
I can grasp fragments of the world and every now and then I manage to assemble a clear picture that I can hang on to for a while. This apartment has been the cocoon in which I have begun to reassemble my brain. Short jaunts around the neighborhood under close supervision have not led to any serious incidents, and it appears I will be able to re-enter society, albeit briefly, tomorrow morning. I’m back to work roasting and selling coffee, but it is work I love so it’s time to just do it.
I am not looking forward to the initial encounters with… everyone. Most of my wholesale accounts know about Silas, but random people I have met over the course of the summer are in for a very sad and unpleasant conversation. They are going to be embarrassed and heartbroken, I’m going to feel bad about how bad they feel while I also try to repress and deny the Abyss so close.
If I can’t help it or it’s just time to release I will be unable to drive and so I will sit in the shadow of an underpass as the sunlight falls around me and I will cry, again, that my son isn’t with me, still.
I must go forward, though. I must not be broken. I must make sure Lu stays whole and our families don’t fragment on the slight, sharp edge of Silas’ life.
There is no way for our lives to be as ‘good’ as they would have been if Silas had not died. But we can try. We can try to fill up our lives and the lives of those around us with as much ‘good’ as we can muster in order to attempt to make up for what Silas could have brought to this Universe.
Our friends and family are doing everything they can to refill our souls. So many amazing people have stepped through these doors to be with us and stuff us full of food and friendship and quiet love. I have spent more time with my brothers and parents than I have in years. The outpouring of condolences in the form of arrangements of fruit that are edible, to pies made from apples, to trees planted in our son’s name, to cold hard cash to help with the bills, it has all been overwhelming, appreciated and extremely unexpected, in a variety of ways.
Therefore, please forgive me when I say that I would trade all of it and so much more for my son to be alive. That probably sounds somewhat callous but there it is. The math in this Universe will never add up for us. Silas alive and with us right here, right now is always better.
He could have been a car thief, but I promise you it would have been for a good reason. He could have been a musician, even though you might not have liked his tunes. He could have been a pain in the ass teenager, a colicky baby and a grumpy old man and I would be a-ok with it all.
I would give anything to be lying awake right here tonight terrified that his tiny sniffles could be the onset of a bad cold or maybe even Lyme disease. After all, we three would have spent the last week in the back yard watching Chumby chase squirrels and Bandha figure out the best ways out of the yard. There are ticks everywhere!
We have everything besides Silas, and Silas is all we want. Ain’t that just grand?
He would have been my best friend, someday. The abrupt ending of his possibilities is almost impossible to comprehend. Thinking about it sends my mind over a cliff.
So tomorrow when I’m at work, please don’t be surprised if I don’t break down in tears as I tell you about Silas Orion. I have already cried for those moments. I have already thrown my mind off of that particular cliff, a few times.
Every candle flame that I see reveals Silas to me, briefly, beautifully, untouchable, unknowable. I will forever search my dreams for him and I will try to fill my days with love and patience in his honor. We can’t make the math right, but we sure can fucking try every damn day.
Another morning is here and with it the prospect of filling a day, somehow. Lu’s sister is on her way and we are so looking forward to seeing her. She lives in Colorado so we don’t get to see her on a regular basis and her presense in this house will be an enormous help, especially to Lu.
Yesterday our friend Cindi was here and we started to work on the design for the tattoo I will be getting soon. I had always planned to have the constellation Orion inked onto my skin once my son was born, but now it has taken on a whole new depth of meaning. It will be a way to carry one aspect of my missing boy with me at all times, forever.
But I still cannot believe that he isn’t here. I still cannot comprehend how this is the life that we now live within. There is no center here, no shining, tiny sun of life that we can orbit around. We had so many plans, so many hopes, so many things we wanted to do with Silas that have now all vanished into dust and smoke. I want him in my arms but I can only touch him in my heart and mind. And it’s just not fucking enough.
I have always been a person that looks forward to the small joys in life. A cup of ice cream to end the night. A pint and the paper in the yard on a warm summer eve. My first espresso of the day at our shop Bean & Leaf from coffee I roasted myself. I’m still finding ways to have those small moments and I’m trying to take pleasure in them, but they are just too brief to fill the tremedous chasm that exists within me, where the pleasure of raising our son was supposed to live.
He was never ours, alone. We had to share him with the whole Universe as soon as he arrived. That is not the way we wanted it, but the choice wasn’t ours. The choice we do have is the way in which we go on living, and how we honor our tiny son every day for the rest of our lives. Yesterday we started to plan how that is going to happen.
Silas will be cremated. The funeral home already has his remains. Signing off on that yesterday afternoon was the most horrible use of my signature I have ever had the displeasure to employ. Part of me wanted to sign it “Fuck You” instead of my name, but I resisted the urge. Once his remains have been returned to us we are going to find a place to plant a tree, put a bench nearby and have a plaque created to commemorate his brief, shining life. We want a place to go and love him as a breeze whispers through his tree and his constellation wheels above, always hunting, always bright in the deep darkness of night.
Sausage feet. That’s what Lu has taken to calling herself. I try to help as much as I can, but this is such a physically personal event that there’s only so much I can do. Can’t make the wrists stop hurting or reduce the swelling of her feet and ankles but hopefully acupuncture tomorrow will. One thing I found interesting is how when Lu tells other women about the carpal tunnel they suddenly remember that they had that side effect, too. Apparently once the baby is born, women somehow forget some of the unpleasantness of being pregnant. I’m sure it’s a chemical thing their bodies are wired to do. Otherwise we’d all be only kids.
And it’s really not all fun and games. Lu has been a bit surprised that she hasn’t enjoyed this quite as much as she anticipated. She thought she would take to pregnancy and really love the whole experience, but that was not exactly the case. It’s hard work. Every day, all day, her body is working in a brand new way, pushing itself to new extremes, and into new shapes.
What a shape it is. Her belly is… prodigious. It is impressive. It looks as though she has taken a watermelon and hidden it under her shirt. There’s no more lifting or bending. She can’t even twist around when seated to look behind her. I think the physical limitations of pregnancy has been a bit of a shock to her. Since her job and her life is to move and exercise and to be in tune with her finely toned body this transformation has been difficult. Suddenly her body is acting and reacting in ways she cannot control or even fully understand. There has to be a certain feeling of powerlessness, that once started this is an experience she must see to a rather wild and crazy end. How a choice made months ago is still having such profound repercussions on every moment of her life and the entire forseeable future. I feel that on some level, but it is still an intellectual exercise for me. Lu is living within it constantly.
The crazy thing is just how powerful she is. She is magic manifest and it has been absolutely awe-filled to be with her every day since this began. So I gladly rub her sausage feet and massage her wrists and arms. I tell her every day how beautiful she looks and I insist–because I believe it–that she is doing an incredible job creating this new person for planet Earth.