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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.

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By nature, I am an extremely curious person. I love to ask questions, I love to know your story, I love looking at pictures and getting a glimpse into people’s lives. I think that’s why I took to face.book so quickly a few years ago when I joined up.  At that time, only a few of my friends were on it and it was much quieter. These days, it has taken on a life of it’s own. Everyone is on it and giving the play by play of what used to be the mundane and ordinary parts of our lives.

But at my age, almost everyone I know is married with a family.  This year, though, it seemed like there were more babies being born then ever before. Or maybe it’s because everyone is sharing all about it in detail. When I was pregnant, it was fun. I loved sharing my updates, my excitement, connecting with old friends who were also pregnant. But now, wow, being in this situation – it’s like a daily form of torture.

A lot of us here in babylost land have ditched our memberships. It is just too hard to see all those baby & pregnancy pictures. Not me, oh no, I stayed the course. I figured- you all were here when I was pregnant supporting me, you’ll all stay with me when I go through this nightmare as well. And you know what? I was right. I have heard from countless friends these last 9 1/2 months since Silas died. Many sharing their own horrific stories, others just offering up their love and thoughts. It’s been overwhelming. This is the good stuff though. The stuff that keeps me going. The emails, the words of encouragement, the love.

The other side of this is the baby & pregnancy pix. It  just tears me up. Little by little I find myself hiding friends from my news feed, because I really don’t want to know what you and your new little baby are up to. But I kind of do. I need to take that peek, to see what I’m missing.  I look at the pictures, I read your comments, I torture myself with what I don’t have. Then I cry and feel sorry for myself and punish myself for looking in the first place. It’s an ugly cycle that I can’t get out of. Luckily all I have to do is click hide and *poof* you’re out of my life for now.

2 great friends of ours just had their babies this past week. I want to know everything and nothing at the same time. I am torn. I want to make sure everything went okay because I love them, but then I cry because I know that I can’t get past my own unhappiness to be happy for them. I want to so badly. I want to go hold their babies and give them every ounce of love I can find in me. But I can’t. So, because of that, my curious nature gets the best of me, and I have to look first before I hide.

Why must I torture myself? I am not able to shut it all away. We work at the farmer’s market every week, where new parents parade their new babies around like show dogs. I put on my blinders and pretend they aren’t even there. I guess it’s easy enough to pretend when there is no connection in the first place. With friends though, it’s harder.

I still cry when I see my good friend’s 4 month old. I still can’t allow her to exist in my brain, even though I know she does. It’s just too hard and they understand.

Some days I feel okay. I wake up and think about how okay I am, and wonder how that is even possible. Then a week of new babies being born takes me down that ugly spiral where I feel like I can’t and don’t want to crawl back up.

To all of this, I know there are no answers. Maybe it’s because I’ve stopped asking questions.

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.

I have had these images of myself with my feet stuck in cement, and everyone else is just flying past me. Their lives are moving forward, baby after baby being born.  And here I am, stuck. While I know I’ve moved forward in these last 9 months in so many other ways,  I am still not a mom to a living child. As a teacher, I have always taken care of other people’s children. I have always imagined what it would be like to finally have children of my own. I almost did.

When we decided it was time to start our family, we were still in SF. The timing never seemed to work, and then we decided to move east. At that point, we figured we’d wait until we were settled in a new town in a new apt. As soon as that time finally came, we got pregnant pretty quickly. It happened so fast and so unexpectedly. Our bodies really were connected with our minds.

Here I am, years later from when we first decided we were ready, and we’re back to square one. It’s so frustrating and so upsetting. I am realizing that in all this, I am scared to death that it will never happen. I am terrified that I will never get to be a mom. One by one, all the babylost mom’s out there are getting pregnant again. Then here I sit, waiting, stuck, a life on hold. It’s almost unbearable at times.

I have the angel on one shoulder whispering in my ear in the most hopeful of voices “of course you will get pregnant again, don’t be silly.” I have the devil shouting at me  “don’t set yourself up for disappointment again, look what happened to you already.” and the battle continues. Do I fill myself up with hope that it will happen to me? Or do I put away all thoughts of what will & could be and accept what is now.

I don’t want to accept it. I imagine my Silas with me, 9 months old, almost every single day. It’s my daily torture. It’s this constant longing for what isn’t here and what will never be. Then I fill my thoughts with hope for a new life growing inside of me. But that is not happening, and at this point, is hard to really believe that it will. I want to believe it, oh so badly, but that devil forces me back to reality.

Balance is necessary and important.  Finding it with the opposing thoughts on my shoulders is a challenge. Luckily I have lots of love around me, pulling me up from the cement and moving me in the direction I need to go.

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!

Spring is raw for us so far.  Where we were for the last one, what isn’t, etc.

But still it compels us to smile, the warm spring air.  We look for hawks as we drive, living these lives that we could have never seen.

Is there a way to un-hope for something?  If so, I’m living it.  So now I don’t do hope.  I just do givens, realities, nows.

I’m living a series of nows that must remain distinct from everything that came before and anything that might happen next.

Other terrible things probably await down the path of my life.  But I’m sure stupendous beauty and ridiculous fun is somewhere out there, too.

I’m just worried about the timing.

Too many flying bags of flaming shit directly in the face can really beat a man down.  So it’s time for better things to start getting better and being more awesome.

Directly.

I want to get things straightened out and cleaned up, but then I just sit back down here at the computer or out on the couch or often in my car and I just go through the World.  Go.  Do.  Forward.  Get. Things. Done.  Whatever is the next thing in front of me, that’s what I do.

This weekend while away in the woods, all I could do was read.  I read in the yard and on the porch and almost walking up the hiking trail, too, but mostly I read.  I had to have it all in my head instead of just there in my hands.  I can’t do anything with it if it’s still in the book.

Then to bed.  Bed is dangerous.  Horizontal hopes send my stomach gurgling and my mind whirling.  Upright and walking I wander through the day observing the anxious actions of my physical self.  There I go getting shit done.  How the eff do I do it, I wonder, my mind wild and tight.

We walked in the woods this weekend and I put my book away long enough to look around and hit the trail and get some breath and sweat.  There were long, warm views from atop the mountain and crisp early-spring shadows still laced with snow.  I didn’t have much to add to the group’s banter and conversation because I was brooding through the woods.

It was nothing specific beyond Silas and everything that is my life now.  No particular worry or newly bad situation rumbled around my brain.  A pervasive sadness just filled me even as I relished the thrum of turkey vultures taking off, fleeing my mad dash down the trail around knobby roots and small, firm trees.  Old leaves covered every inch of the forest floor, giving each step the potential for slip.  But I got winded before I tripped and fell.  Lucky me.

For a few moments I was alone in the woods in the rustling quiet of nature.  I listened and looked and stood slightly sweating in the cool arboreal shade waiting and wondering for what was next.  Not just the next moment, but the next everything.  For a moment I thought about what our lives might look like if we had another child, but I couldn’t focus on that thought for long.

I was worried and hopeful throughout Lu’s pregnancy but those thoughts and fears seem vastly inadequate to the magnitude of what happened.  So I don’t bother with them anymore.  Our lives will be whatever they are whenever that happens, and there was not much I could about it out there on the mountain, in the woods, briefly alone in the chilly spring air.

My muscles were atrophied from lassitude and grief but they kept me moving through the trees until I found the perfect spot to stop and wait.

The breeze across the sweat of my back sent me shivering.

I listened to my soul missing my son by hearing the subtle sounds of the life around me.

My wife and brothers and family and nephew snapped and crackled into my range, their laughter and conversation a beacon for my worn and tattered spirit.  I waited for them on a rock above the trail, hiding in the glare of the sun.

Silas is hidden in the glare of my pain and grief.  I need to have him close, but missing him burns my mind to a crisp.

Once they found me I walked with Lu’s hand in mine and we didn’t have to say a thing because we both knew what the other was thinking.  I hope Silas knows too, somehow.

Back home I picked up my book and read some more.  I had to have it all in my head because now, not knowing is worse than anything.

Driving is my thinking time.  I don’t ruminate before bed because once I grab onto a string of thought it inevitably leads to a whole tapestry of ideas and perspectives that keep me agitated and alert.  Work worries weave into thoughts of Silas that spin me into tight knots, wide awake.

I can stare into a pitchblack room with my eyes open and searching, or I can use the back of my eyelids to examine my thoughts.  Neither lead to sleep.  Instead, usually, the soft azure glow of my Blackberry’s screen soothes me into slumber as I read about tomorrow’s news.  It’s a trade-off.  I don’t need a headlamp when I read off of that tiny machine, but it doesn’t have the warm texture of aged pages in a used book.

Either way–be it digital or analog–before bed, I read.  It used to be just a habit.  Now it is a tactic and a refuge from the spinning thoughts that pull me awake every night.

Those spinning thoughts are safer to untangle as I drive.  The active motion forward seems to make me think fast and lucid.  I’m already processing the world at eighty miles an hour as other huge machines hurtle by and that makes my internal dialogue rapid and precise.  My mental monkeys piggyback on the velocity of my motion down the road.

Yesterday I left the house fast, grabbing what I needed as I raced out the door.  It was warmer than it has been, but the sun was positioned so that it blasted my eyes through the passenger window, utterly blinding everyone in their cars on that corner of 95 just north of New Haven.  I sailed through on instinct and we all made it on up the road.  But then a sudden pang twanged through my belly.  I was starving.

Dinner the night before had been on the early side and I wasn’t all that hungry, so I didn’t each much.  Now, just shy of noon, hunger was roiling my stomach.  There was a huge gaping emptiness at the center of my belly and suddenly my 80mph brain jumped a divider following a thinly threaded thought and I found myself on the same road I sometimes travel with Silas.

I am hungry for my son, I realized.  The physical hunger for lack of food resonated within that deeply empty place in my soul.  It was like invisible gongs clanging through my belly or like a swallowed Ohmm that went stale and burpy.  It felt like the inside of me was attached to the most endless place in the entire Universe.  It was hunger, but it was my soul’s hunger in a way I have never ever felt before.

I wanted to devour the sight and scents and sounds of Silas every day as he grew.  I wanted to fill myself all the way up with his new life and new perspective on our World.  His life was going to be a feast for my heart and my spirit.

I drove on, the sobbing subsided, the physical hunger slowly slipped away, and the sun slid higher into the sky.  My eyes flickered from mirror to mirror and then out the windshield in front of me.

But it could have been that blackened room before sleep.  It could have been the insides of my eyelids.  My sight took in the 80mph road and the cars around me, but my gaze was focused deep within.

There is a knot in my thoughts that no fingers can untie.  A part of me will always be starving without him.  Somehow I have to deal with that longing as it grows tighter and deeper and more fundamental to my being.

Words seem to help me.  The ones I read and the ones I write.  Digital or analog, spoken or written.  The words of my wife and my friends, old and new, and of my family that is essential to my life, their words and their actions help me heal and become whole.

We are wounded but we move because what’s coming must be better than what we’ve got today.  Sometimes I’m amazed that I’m up and about in the world, but there’s nothing else I can do.  Forward is the only choice, even if I’m starving and tangled every step of the way.

I have been out in the world a great deal lately and it is messing me up.  I’m splintering into pieces and it is not easy to keep all the parts together.

The surprising thing is that being out in the world isn’t really the hard part, but rather the fact that there is only the same empty place I come back to when I’m done out there.  The place where Silas isn’t destroys me over and over again.  And no matter if I’m in Boston, at home, on the road alone delivering coffee, when find myself returning to that place where he isn’t, that place that is my life-as-it-should-have-been, I am crushed anew.

I can do the world stuff now, mostly. I’ve thrown myself into work.  But it is such an effort to accomplish even the tiniest thing because on some level, I just don’t give a fuck.  Except that I also do.  I know I have to keep going forward,  I need to get shit done, work, live, love, laugh.  Just do it.  Just go go go.  But no, sometimes.  No.  Not getting up.  Not returning that phone call (and sorry to friends I owe calls back to, they are coming.)  Not thinking about Silas.  Not not not not can’t won’t.  But I am.  Always.

Always back to that place where I am thinking about him and it is literally the one and only thing I can do with him.  That’s it.  I can think about him.  Nothing else.

It is empty.  I’m emptier than I have ever felt before.  I have little to say a lot of the time.  I just don’t feel like talking.  I don’t feel like explaining how I’m feeling over and over again.

And I hate it when people don’t ask.

I can feel the world drifting on and a silence descending over me.  I can feel an isolation occurring.  Perhaps it is the winter coming.  I fear the barren, knifing winds that wait to sweep through the empty streets of this tiny city.  I dread the soft flakes that will seal us frozen in our home.  I fear the grief that is still in me and that I will carry with me every day of my life.  I’m afraid of how scared I feel these days.

And then I remember that I really, actually and truly do not give a fuck.  That helps.  Remembering that I don’t give one single shit about anything and that people should just get the hell out of my way definitely helps me to deal with the vicious cruelty of this desolate place I keep having to go back to every moment of the day.

Do you think maybe this is the anger phase?  Does that sound right to you?  It rings true with me.  As you read this you must think I’m just a completely pissed off person and while that would be true on one level, it’s also not true in many ways.

I am calm and content when roasting coffee.  Working in the shop and helping to create an amazing business with people I love is truly wonderful.  I feel good there and I really enjoy all the accounts and customers I work with.  Probably for the first time in my life I am completely and totally thrilled with my work-life, while I absolutely loathe my personal life.  But that’s not exactly it, either.

I love Lu and my family and my friends with thorough devotion.  Everyone’s love and support has been utterly amazing.  That’s all part of my personal life and I cherish it.  Rather it is my life itself, my personal experience of this life of mine that is so awful right now.  How I go about my day and how I live in my mind and how I trust and perceive the world, all of that, I hate it.  I hate that the most personal creature, my son, isn’t with me and never will be.  I hate that thought so much I have to keep my distance from it or I shatter like a wineglass on stone.

Then sometimes I have to go ahead and think about Silas, about how he will never be with me, and I shatter myself on purpose.

The problem is that there’s just no way to do all of this at the same time and feel completely sane.  So the pieces splinter and I pull them together and let all of you shove different parts into alignment.  Saturday night we saw Ira Glass in Northampton.  It was an incredible show.  I laughed so hard throughout and shed many tears, and for a little while I was able to be in that internal place with Silas and yet not feel like it was a crucible incinerating my soul.  I can find that peaceful solace within sometimes, but it doesn’t last.  And then I go back to missing him so much I don’t give a fuck about anything and I forge forward through the day destroying obstacles with ease.

We walked around Boston a lot last week.  It felt really good.  That experience helped spark an image for me, as I was thinking about how I was feeling, how I was navigating through the world while still passing through that terrible place where I missed Silas so much it created physical pain in me.  I was also just starting a book called The Canticle of Lebowitz that is considered ‘speculative literature’ (aka really good sci-fi you don’t even know is sci-fi) that takes place decades after a worldwide nuclear holocaust.  In the book, cities were turned to sheets of glass where nuclear warheads landed.

I feel as though my soul has been turned into that fused glass.  I see myself walking across a vast and desolate landscape where only off in the distance can I vaguely see tiny oases of light and life and color.  It takes a great deal of effort to walk from one of these places to the next.  Much of the time I am simply moving, moving forward, crunching across the shattered landscape with my head tight against my neck and my thin jacket pulled tight against the icy breeze.  When I’m feeling exceptionally awful there is even sometimes a tiny hand in mine, and I cannot even bear to look to see if it is Silas.  Of course it is.  I know that.  But the pure and painful impossibility of that is too brutal to even risk a glace towards him.

It wasn’t like this before.  I used to live at one of those oases all the time.  That place of light and color and love and laughter, it filled me completely.  It was a rare day when I felt like I was caught out in the barren reaches of the soul.  Now every day is a struggle to rise from my hovel, to walk across the landscape that was incinerated into glass on the day my son was born and then passed away, to find a cool pool with lush growth and the trappings of love and hope and to stay there for as long as I can.

It is never long enough.  I have to always keep walking, now.  I have to spend time out there in the reaches where I can think, and where it is safer for me to be.  I am toxic now and I have to learn how to protect myself first, so that I can protect others from me, so that they are not incinerated by the burning phosphorous of this vicious sadness.

I can shatter to pieces out there and the shards cut no one.  It is all glass.  All flat.  All harded and fused.

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.

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