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I try to be the quietest person that ever lived when I get back home late from work and everyone is asleep. My foot placed perfectly with every careful step, but the utensil drawer is a disaster. The drag of a knife as I slide it out. The metal tinkle of fork tines in the night. The fundamental vibration as I ease it closed. I catch and pause my breath, listening. Still asleep, still asleep. But then the plate too hard, too hard! on the counter and the stove as I slip in the leftovers, it is the clanging crazy of a dumptruck or ancient elevator. There’s no way I can pull this off.
He sleeps on, though, somehow.
Just like right now, with Phish on at a good volume, he swings in the swing with his beautiful little melon head tipped onto his shoulder and mouth slightly open in the bliss of sleep, he rocks and rolls.
Oh shit, abrupt stop to music! Disaster is imminent!
Had a dream last night and I think it was the first one I’ve ever had with Silas in it. Certainly it is the first I remember with any clarity.
We were in a big complex, some sort of large multi-use space and I was with him, but I was more following him around than taking care of him. He was tiny, a toddler, but he was very agile and competent. We went swimming in this big pool and then he showed me some of the other places in the complex. I remember walking with him down hallways and then stepping into large, open rooms. It was all very nice, but I wasn’t sure what we were doing there, and I was very surprised at how able he was at everything.
When he first jumped in the pool I was like oh shit! What are you doing? But he knew how to swim. I think he even got out and jumped back in a few times and I did, too. That’s how I swim, though. I get in the water for a little while and then get out and do a cannonball in and then float, then sink to the bottom, then bob, then get in a splashfight with someone, then get out and do a cannonball again.
Always before I get out for good I like to float on my back for a little while with my ears underwater and my eyes closed and feel the silence of the World.
We didn’t talk while we walked and swam, Silas and I. He just showed me around. I was glad that he was safe, but I wasn’t thrilled that he was there.
It wasn’t easy to get up today. Obviously.
I’m really not sure how we are going to get through this, sometimes. I go through periods where I can almost sorta handle it, and then there are lots more moments when I can see my life unwinding before me absolutely brimming with loss and sadness. It is terrifying and thoroughly daunting.
I’ve felt at loose ends today, out of sync with the world around me. It was an autopilot type of day and I’m glad the bed is in my near future. At least when I’m sleeping I can be elsewhere, not in this body, this mind, this life. Although I must say, I did really enjoy the hour I spent giving a presentation about coffee to some new customers. That was actually fun. The drive home was not.
Things are getting complicated. The ongoing-ness of missing Silas is confusing. Life pulls us out and forward and onward and yet we are constantly looking back and sideways, searching for hope and happiness and him. It is extremely disorienting. That is also true for the way we are handling grief. It isn’t just the 5 stages one after the next like it used to be. Things were simpler back in those days. Now it’s a complex matrix of conflicting and complementary emotion-states.
I can do anger->acceptance->denial->bargaining and then from the inside out two times in a row in under thirty seven seconds flat. Or I can dangle myself on the twin hooks of fear and helplessness for a full day. Lu is sampling from this hideous buffet at her own pace. What is the opposite of savoring? That’s what we’re doing as we roil with guilt or shout out impossibilities that we must have, that we need.
I have never before yearned for someone who was utterly unreachable. I have never smashed my soul against Death’s impenetrable wall until now. I knew death existed, obviously, but now I am banging my skull against it, always.
It is in me, now. It is a place I cannot enter, but it is in me somehow. It is the vacuum where everything I should be learning about my new son should be going but isn’t. Instead I am learning how to live in the Universe without him. I keep trying to fill that space with thoughts of him and these words and the love of friends and family but it just doesn’t seem to work sometimes. It’s still more nothing, more not Silas, more no son, no end in sight.
I caught a chill today and it kept me shivering, even in the sun. Winter got inside me. My soul feels cold and brittle but I know the things I need to help me warm and brighten. Friends. Family. Words. Tears. Lu’s arms around me. The cozy sheets. Dreams with Silas in them where I can tell him how much I love him, and how terribly I miss him every moment of every day.
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.
Lu doesn’t give herself enough credit. She thinks she’s complaining a lot, but I don’t. I’m impressed with how hard she has been working and how much she’s been able to do despite apparently swallowing a basketball.
It has been an amazing three months. Lu has been able to work, got her appetite back, kicked her cough and even got in a few good nights of sleep. It has been a dramatic change from the uncomfortable weirdness of the first few months of her pregnancy. The party is coming to an end, though. 2 months out, 32 weeks in and Lu is really starting to feel it.
The kicks are stronger, the weight is greater and the space is limited. Some evenings her belly is taut with the very real presence of the child within. For the last few weeks Lu has had trouble catching her breath after walking or stairs, but recently that has subsided. We think it’s because the baby is riding lower within her, beginning to drop into position.
Lately Lu has awoken with an arm fast asleep. Turns out numbness and carpal tunnel are sometimes symptoms of pregnancy. Really what I’ve learned is that basically anything can be just a normal symptom of pregnancy as long as it doesn’t happen too much and become a problem.
We can feel the baby often, now. Elbows, feet, the strong, tiny back and even the bottom have been identified through the skin of Lu’s womb. It is surreal and wonderful and more than a little scary. Good scary sure, but so extremely real and life-altering that it’s almost like staring at the sun.
I look at Lu’s belly and see the next two months collapsing into a series of very brief vignettes of the daily rhythm of our lives falling into one another nearly identically (just her belly grows) until some unknown day in the future where sight collapses.
Imagination falters and fades. There is only Lu and her belly and the birth and a baby boy or girl screeching into our lives.
Then chaos as all our gears shift.
Then we will settle into a new life and new rhythms will grow until we cannot imagine how we ever lived without the child in our lives. I can almost see what that all will be like and I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to being an active participant instead of just watching and waiting and wondering from out here.
And Lu is ready for the babe-in-arms stage, too. She cannot move like she usually does, and carrying that much weight is no easy task. Insanely, leading up to delivery the baby will gain a pound a week. Frankly, I cannot imagine where that is going to go. Lu has her doubts, as well. Very quickly now we are going to be starting on the Crazy Stage where anything can happen at a moment’s notice.
I believe that Lu will take the baby to full-term. She’s extremely thorough in everything she does. But getting there is going to be wild.
Thursday had been a great day and I polished off the evening with some wings and chowder and a pair of pints at the bar up the road. Watched March Madness, did some work, and just kicked back after a great week of working hard and having fun. Lu was feeling generally okay, but her stomach had started to bother her a bit, so she went to bed early wiped out from the tough work of creating life within her womb all day/all night.
Friday everything went bad. Fast. I woke up feeling icky and before long icky had become full-blown awful. I’m not sure if it was the lukewarm chowder from the day before or an actual virus, but something got inside my belly and it tried to find every way out possible. I was leveled. Friday passed in a delirious haze that gave me a tiny glimpse into what it’s like to pregnant. I was nauseous, extremely uncomfortable, dangerously dehydrated and cloven in two by a powerful headache. Friday Lu waited on me, bringing me Pedialite, water and anything else I needed even as she cooked and fed herself, straightened up the apartment and did some work. Unfortunately, she was only a little bit better off herself.
Her stomach ache had become worse and both of us started to get worried. We knew that all kinds of weird things happen as the fetus grows and the womb enlarges, but this just didn’t feel right to her. Calls were made to the midwife and to Mom even as she searched online for reasons and explanations for her discomfort. The final analysis was either a mild gastrointestinal virus, ligaments stretching in her uterus, or most likely, that it was just one of those weird pregnant things.
But I wasn’t ‘there’ to help her through it like I would have been if I wasn’t utterly wrecked by sickness myself. Which made her feel alone and me feel helpless and both of us feel really scared and on edge. I slipped in and out of sleep all day having bizarre dreams and growing increasingly sore from being stuck in bed while she tried not to get too freaked out by the pains in her belly.
One thing that kept going through my mind both dreaming and awake was “How the hell can either of us ever get sick once we have a newborn? How, exactly, would that work?” And if both of us got ill? Forget it! Apparently as a parent illness is off the table.
Today I felt much better, but I also felt odd and different. Lighter, certainly as well as… shall we say… thoroughly purged. Saw friends at the shop today and although they were totally normal I didn’t feel that way at all. Being sick is such a private thing. It is something that is only shared with a partner or among an immediate family, but it’s also something that everyone goes through at one point or another. I kept wanting to grab them and tell them, “Look at me! I’m different! Can’t you see it? I had an ‘experience’ yesterday!”
But we all have private experiences. Moments that affect only us, that only we see on our own, through our senses and within our brains. Lu is having an incredibly powerful and private experience every day of this pregnancy, and getting sick on Friday gave me the tiniest glimpse of how she feels, just accelerated and condensed into a 24 hour period. That brief illness changed me slightly. I can only imagine how much she will change as a result of growing this baby.
I was laying in bed last night, nearly asleep, when I heard it. Well, maybe heard isn’t exactly the right word for it and I’m not entirely sure I was actually awake, but that’s the easiest way to describe it.
The house was utterly silent. The cats were napping all curled up around Lu, who was also totally out. Not even the furnace churned below the floor. The sound wasn’t coming from the neighbors upstairs or next door. It wasn’t even an external sound at all.
From somewhere in my mind, I heard the future.
It was the lingering wail of a newborn baby that was hungry or tired or needed a diaper change or simply just wanted to cry because that’s what babies do. I realized in that instant how precious our quiet slumber was at this point in our lives.
I didn’t have to move or do anything to address the wailing from within. It was just an echo of a future-sound, calling back through time to tell me that I should cherish every quiet moment every time I find them. Because soon, quiet will vanish like the sweet sleep I fell into as my mind grew silent and the dreams enveloped me.
Friends came by for dinner tonight and when they drove away a few hours ago, they left their kids behind. That was the plan, though. They get a night to see music or a movie, and we get to practice taking care of young children. It was awesome.
The kids already know us pretty well. The three year old knows us by name and is always happy to see us. But I wasn’t sure how it was going to go when it was actually time for Mom and Dad to step out the door. Me and the three year old were building a plane with Legos so he barely looked up to see them off. my wife had the one year old in her arms attempting to put him to sleep, but he was a little more fussy. It was later than usual so he was probably overtired, and because he’s still so young it had to be a little confusing that his parents weren’t there to put him to bed. I tried taking him for a while and he just screamed and squirmed in my arms, but it worked out because then my wife became a more desirable human for some reason, and after rocking him in the dark for a bit and then laying down with him, he was out.
Before the other one went to bed I read him some stories, but mostly it was just me answering a variety of the same “but why…” questions over and over. So funny. Eventually we took the Lego plane we made and flew around the apartment and then into the bed and he was so good and quiet with his young brother sleeping next to him. I was utterly surprised by how amendable he was to going to bed, and even though he wasn’t quite asleep when I got up, he hasn’t made a peep since. I did promise I’d check on him, though, so I’m gonna do that in just a few minutes. Keeping promises is important.
I know it won’t always be this easy with a kid of our own, but it felt good that we had some instinctive knowledge of how to handle little ones. Without a doubt, though, we still have tons to learn.
The first ultrasound is tomorrow at 3:30pm. We are so excited to see our little one growing in Mom’s belly. We are so excited for everything there is to come.