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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.
I should close this blog. I should shut it down and walk away. Perhaps this place these words my chronicled expectations are the jinx that prevents me from becoming exactly what I want to be.
I’m dangling. I’m done. I’m done wondering when I get to be a Dad.
Oh yeah sure I know I know how I’m Silas’s Dad and like it’s all okay because you know it’s just fine. You’re strong, you’re okay you’re going to be okay you’re doing great. All true, except the Dad part. Not that.
Got home at 2am tonight. Got a ton of shit to do tomorrow. I’ll probably go to bed at midnight tomorrow night after finishing everything I need to do. Not that it matters; my schedule is mostly my own. Lu works hard, too. All the time she’s on the go getting shit done to run her business.
We do it because we can, and because we have to. There is no Silas to dictate our lives. In our hearts he’s there of course, but we don’t have to do anything at all to hold him there. Out here in the apartment it is just cats and work and time together to eat and sleep and garden and read. It looks placid, but that is because we’re good at this now.
I’ll sleep flipping over and over and over. I’ll dream and maybe remember snatches. They’re always the same these days. They are always about the unattainable. The dreams are about friends I can’t see at concerts that never happened. Complex interactions and events cascade through my sleep and I flip and flip and flip over and over and over.
I’ve learned how to not clench my hands when I sleep. Everyone should try this. When you sleep, lay your hands flat against the cool sheen of the sheet. Spread your fingers wide. Lay your hands between the pillow and the mattress. Sleep with your hands wide open and flat because it feels good and right and smooth.
I lay flat and I flip from back to front to side to back again. No Silas. Not a Dad. This page is a mockery of everything I want. It is an affront to reality. I’ve gone for the hope, for the belief, for the obviously easy because everyone around us is clearly okay to make and have babies. To be parents.
Elm City Guy. Elm City Roaster. Now maybe Elm City Bartender but Not in New Haven so Not Really Elm City Either… Guy Who Does Lots of Things Besides… Well… You Know… Being A Dad. Elm City Douchebag. Elm City Fuck You. Elm City Leave Me The Fuck Alone Because I’ve Got Shit To-Do!
Phew. I’m glad that’s out there. I hope that didn’t hurt anyone, but damn that felt good.
Maybe I’ll be a dad someday. Until then this blog is named as it is as a hope for what could be. If anyone is listening/reading that can do anything about this, all I have to say is seriously, stop fucking with us. We’ve had enough.
I’m going to be a dad. Lu is going to be a mom. We are taking actions and steps far beyond what most people have to do, but we’re doing it because it feels right and because once it finally happens I’m pretty sure we’ll be pretty good at it. And that’s not bragging, that’s hope.
I am an Incognito Disaster.
You can’t see the mayhem only millimeters out, but it’s there, inside.
You can’t see my toes curl as I cringe when I re-live the day Silas was born.
Cars swerve around my thoughts as I drive.
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.
“You just moaned,” she said in the darkness.
“I know,” I replied, suddenly wide awake.
“What the hell was that?” she asked me.
“Had a nightmare. We heard something so I got up to check it out and I went all around the house–it wasn’t this house, though, way more rooms and corridors–but there was nothing there. I was going back to bed and I then I saw someone standing there and it scared the shit out of me. I couldn’t see the face, just their slight form and I was so freaked out I actually puked into my hand and then threw it at them and shouted and then I woke up.”
“Well that wasn’t a shout you let out,” Lu replied. “More like a moan.”
“I know. I woke myself up!”
That was at four thirty in the morning. I fell back to sleep eventually, but it was a fitful sleep and when I got up for the day I had a crushing, twisting knot between my neck and my shoulder blade. That particular pain has been with me off and on for many years, and I know that whenever it flares up it means I’m way too stressed out.
I was fine before bed, but after that early morning nightmare the muscles seized up and spasmed. I could feel them throbbing all day.
It’s never fun to be in pain, but I have less tolerance for it now than ever before. I use ice and heat, Lu helps with massage and after a few days I’m usually back to normal. But the normal I go back to is far away from what it used to be.
Every day without Silas is brutal. Every day I do not get to be a father beats me to a pulp. Every month when we are again not pregnant what little bits of hope I’ve managed to find are ground further into a fine dust of desolation and fear. One night of sleep in a weird position or nodding off on the couch, head tucked into my chest, sends my neck into another twisted crimp that drains me of the energy to battle through another day.
Used to be I could deal with it. Sure I got surly and short when the worst of it hit, but most days I could push through and heal fast. Now I’m knocked flat because I do not have the mental reserves to deal with the physical pain in my neck as well as the emotional pain of every waking moment.
That afternoon I dropped off some beans at my first delivery and then headed south towards the shop. It was a glorious summer day and I tried to fight through the various bullshit setbacks that popped up here and there, as well as ignore the furious web of muscle across my back. The first gas station had been closed and then my card declined at the second. The road to my delivery was clogged with unmoving traffic so I took a long detour, cursing and wincing the entire way.
I finally made it there, did the drop and then drove on. As I steered with my right hand, I used my left hand to locate the nexus of the pain on my right shoulder blade, and I went to work. I pressed in and around, easing the muscles open and releasing the stored stress that gathered on my back.
Missed the Boat, by Modest Mouse came on and I kept pressing even as I sang along. I felt the pressure build behind my nose and eyes and mouth, and then from the speakers and me shouting along: “Well we knew we had the good things / But those never seemed to last / Oh please just last” and my throat closed, my tearducts opened and I spilled out raging hot tears as my breath caught in my larynx and a guttural groan escaped my clenched teeth.
I pressed against the muscle with two fingers and steered with five and neither the salted liquid in my eyes nor the blasting music around me ever obscured my vision. A hot stream of rage and pain cascaded down my cheeks and I flew down the road trailing thundering riffs and defiant lyrics.
I thought of the dream from the morning and how the fright finally pushed my stress into that tangled knot of muscle. From the moment I woke up, all I could think about was Silas: The day of his birth that still makes me flinch and squirm; every day since that I cannot believe I’ve survived.
I want to reject this entire option, this whole way of living and yet it lays on me and penetrates my soul so that I can be nothing else than the sum of everything I’ve done, and everything that has happened to me.
I didn’t sob or keen. I just puked tears out of my eyes and vomited groans and drove down the highway, on my way to work. And I was better by the time I got there. My neck and back still hurt, but I could clearly feel that I had released some of the emotion that had been building for many days.
The stress of my emotional pain makes my muscles tense. When that finally snaps into spasm, the pain pushes me over the edge to where it feels like my whole life is a jagged, broken mess. My physical body is my last refuge from the World at Large. When I feel physically good I am better at handling the episodes of sadness and grief. But when that is compromised by pain or sickness I have no place left to go, and I am left exposed to the raw truth of our loss, both within and without.
The rest of the day went smoothly, and at home that night I sat with Lu as we ate dinner.
“That dream has been with me all day,” I told her.
“It is so freaky,” she replied.
“Yeah, it scared the shit out of me. And so gross, I can’t believe I puked and caught it and threw it at the Intruder.”
“That’s one way to scare someone off.”
“I guess so,” I replied and then shuddered, remembering. “And then I shouted!”
“Well, it wasn’t much of a shout.”
“Yeah,” she replied, half-laughing. “It was more of a ‘Eeeee oooohhh aaaahh'”
“Eeeeooohhhaaaaah…” I imitated her imitating me and she started laughing so hard. Then I tried to do it again but I was laughing so hard I couldn’t get the shout-from-the-bottom-of-a-nightmare-well out without bursting into guffaws.
Now all I have to do is go “eeeeoooahhh!” and we both crack up, and that is far better than either of us cracking up for real.
It was a gorgeous day at the beach yesterday, but the sting of sunlight on my skin had nothing on the pain within.
Kids screamed and shouted, they cried and laughed and argued and ran. Babies were tightly wrapped and shaded against the sun and exasperated parents tried to relax as their brood ran circles around them.
Lu and I sat quietly, a team of two, each of us seemingly absorbed in a book.
My eyes were on the page but my attention was scattered like the sunlight bouncing off the rippling waters.
This impromptu trip to the shore was too easy. Just tossed a few things in the bags, grabbed the chairs and hit the road. No squealing toddler to wrestle into diapers. No seven extra bags to maintain said creature in the harsh environs of sun and sand.
Eventually the unrelenting heat sent me to the water’s edge where I strolled in up to my knees. The frigid water was refreshing, but the salt and cold made my feet and ankles sting. I know that sting well.
Though I have managed to find many moments of happiness and pleasure in the last months, those moments never appear without an internal snap of pain and anguish. There is still no way to avoid it, and I don’t know that I would if I could. I try so hard not to linger on the what-ifs and should-bes, but the blatant void of his absence is simply too powerful.
It was a beautiful day at the beach with my wife, but there was no protection from the burn of our loss.
There never is.
Does everyone’s internal dialogue contain so many voices and perspectives? Is everyone awash in conflicting thoughts and impulses? Or is it just us, the Utterly Fucked? It’s that feeling where I want to go and do something, a hike, a few hours at the bookstore, a nice walk around the ‘hood, something I know will be good and right, and instead I can make myself do… nothing. Sit. Read the paper. Nap. Have another beer.
Sometimes I decide today is going to be a good day and then slam the door on the way out and cry in the car, pounding on the steering wheel all the way to work.
Other times I realize I can’t take any of it anymore and then I don’t have to. I end up blithely drifting through the day, smiling at the elusive sun and puddled earth. We are getting so much rain these days I’m afraid Silas’ tree is going to need swimming lessons.
Most days the cascading terror of my-life-gone-horribly-wrong churns me awake before the dawn, but often by nightfall I’m laughing with Lu or friends, surrounded by so much love I almost start to feel lucky.
I used to feel lucky all the time. I used to think I was one of the happiest people out there, despite the often intense sense of anger I have always felt at the occasional injustices of the World.
My World is entirely Unjust these days. Happiness is elusive, too.
I used to sleep well. I can still fall asleep in fifteen seconds flat and I nap as though I have a special super power for napping. But I cannot remember a time when I have had a full night of sleep. Pre-dawn is the worst. There’s no refuge there besides more sleep, and there’s just way too much to think about.
The Path of Worry is a deep groove. I slip in before I know it, and finding my way out is an ordeal. Sometimes it’s easier to just lay down amid the worn rocks and sharp pebbles and watch the vultures circle above. I try to pick out the silhouette of hawks amid the scavengers. I’m amazed by the endless sky and steep sides to this gully and I wonder, every morning I wonder, how the fuck are we going to get out of here?
Can’t climb the walls. Can’t disintegrate into the Earth. Backwards is disaster and so that only leaves forward. But sometimes I cannot move one single step. Then, sleep is the only refuge, but always I wake up wide and worn out and can’t believe it’s another day without Silas.
All of them are. From That Day until the end of my forever, it is all without my son. I feel my bones getting wobbly and sick at the thought of that. I feel my soul shrivel and hide. My mind sends me images of bright, shiny objects to distract me from the catastrophic disgustingness of a thought like that. It used to shatter me, now I just sigh and rub my eyes and wonder what I’ll do next to get by, hang on, let go or act out, depending on what I can muster for the moment.
You’d be fooled, though, just reading this. These words are the gymnastics I do in my mind day after day, moment after moment. In person I’m nothing like this. Most of the time I’m calm and pleasant. If you just met me today you might never know my son died in September and that I am still in the very taloned grasp of crushing grief.
That’s why I’ve been thinking about changing my name. “Imissilas” has a great ring to it, and that way whenever I met someone new they would know what I was all about. And that way, when my friends called out to me, they would know what I was thinking about anyway. With that name I could unify myself. Instead of being my name and missing my son, I could just be both all the time.
I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to live this life, to experience this pain, to heal, to hang on. So I’m just making it up as I go and letting the confusing contradictions of every single day and moment, of my soul and heart, of my fear and love and confusion, all of it, I’m allowing it to wake me up when it must and lay me flat when I can’t stand and crush the tears out of me when the pressure grows too strong.
Drained I find a way to pick myself up again and trudge forward, head tucked against the torrent, slowly winding my way through this shadowed, vultured valley. Silas’ heart beats in my chest. His soul fills everything within my skin.
Please send over as much love and thoughts as you can to our friends Brad and Christa and their little Carly. She’s been in a lot of pain this week and they haven’t quite figured it out. As you can imagine, it has been an incredibly tough journey for them. Lots of love and no-pain vibes heading your way little one!
My relationship to Silas has been changing. Gathering our friends and family around and planting a tree for him, speaking about him, expressing our loss and grief formally, in front of everyone, it seems to have helped me.
I’m still gut-wrenchingly sad, but there just might be a glimmer of calm worming its way into my soul.
It could just be a defense mechanism, though. Like the speck of sand in an oyster, I’m finding ways to surround and smooth over the rough pain of his absence. I don’t know if this feeling will last, if there is a brutal plunge ahead, or if I am on my way to some sort of peace or acceptance, but I know I am changing. For now, this calm is probably the result of exhausted resignation.
I can’t have him back. He’s gone, that’s it. There are no do-overs or second chances.
I’ve been living with this fact for 8 months now and I’m just completely fucking exhausted by the daily wrestling match between what I want and what I have. So I’m trying to stop that internal battle and simply resign myself to the facts at hand.
Nothing can change what happened to him, to us, to our lives, so I have to find a way to live with it. In the car when I blast music and blast down the highway, I twist and turn these thoughts like hideous alien gems, and I try to discern their facets and depths.
By staring at them long enough, I begin to pass through my sadness, into a realm where sadness is inherent in all the bits and pieces of reality itself, and that makes all the little good things shocking and bright. I have been trying to live in the World I used to know, and every day I’ve been devastated to find myself flattened by tragedy anew with each awful dawn.
But flip it around, and my loss and grief become the unsurprising parts and everything else that is *not* sucktacular is the reward for simply getting up; for allowing love to flow between us we still have each other; for allowing for the possibility that there are still some beautiful sparkles faintly glowing amidst our shattered landscape we still find laughter and music and moments of happiness. That any of that is still possible is what sometimes surprises me most of all.
I change and grow and re-examine myself and my thoughts every single day. I reevaluate what I want and what I need once it becomes clear what I can actually hope to achieve, in any given instance. With life and work I am constantly reworking plans to better fit the changing circumstances and facts at hand.
That I will never have Silas in my arms is something that will never change, though. I will not see him grow. I will never know him as a person, as my son, as a friend and peer in later years.
I can probably fix any screwed up relationship or misunderstanding from any point in my life. I can find the cash to get my car repaired. I can try again at nearly anything I have failed. But I cannot change what happened on September 25, 2008.
He was here and then he was gone and the maelstrom of that event has blown me utterly off course. And that is what he is becoming for me: a force of nature. For me, Silas has become a Law of the World. Like gravity, like light’s speed, like fusion at the core of our nearby star, Silas is immutable, unchanging, unknowable.
I sort of ‘get’ what’s going on in the Sun to create that immense furnace of energy. But I really don’t comprehend it in a true, literal sense. I know what I’ve been told: that hydrogen and helium are combining because of enormous pressure and temperature. Pressure pushes those atoms together and even though they don’t really want to get close, they don’t have a choice. When that non-choice is forced upon them, they are crushed together and break open, and immense quantities of energy are released. I ‘get’ all that, but I don’t know it. I can’t see the atoms combining one by one. It is beyond my ken, just like Silas is now.
So his death sits there in the center of my being, and it just… is. I can’t reason with it. I can’t fix it. No amount of tears or rage or depression can do a thing to dislodge that Absolute Fact and so the only reasonable response I’ve been able to summon is this:
It is up to me to change in order to incorporate this Law of Silas into my life.
Yes, he is our son. Yes, he was a tiny, beautiful perfect little boy. Yes he was the vessel of our hopes and dreams, the Everything we had staked our Everything Else to. And with him gone, the Everything Else came untethered and blew away even before we knew it was happening.
In his death, he has been transformed. He has become a force that acts on my soul and on my heart, but just like the wind, that force never changes. Every day when I relive his birth and death in my mind, it is always the same. But every time I do it, I am changed by increments etched with pain.
The trees planted for him, here in New Haven, up in New Hampshire and everywhere else in the World, it feels perfect and right. Their slow growth and leafy branches are the correct expression of what he has become for me. I can go to his trees and sit under his boughs and listen to wind softly whisper to me in a language I cannot understand with my mind, but it is one I already know in my heart and in my soul.
The sun warms my skin and then the breeze blows me cool. The Earth spins, holding me close. Missing my son empties me from within, forcing me to find Everything Else to put back in.
He is light speed. He is fission and fusion. He is the internal combustion that propels me forward through life. He is the love I can still find to share with my wife and my friends and my family all around.
He will never change, and I cannot do anything else.