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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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I’m worn out.  Weary.  The hoops have won.  There are simply too many of them to jump through just to get back to normal.

Away in New Hampshire was the perfect place to hide.  I felt like if I stayed in bed, everything would stop.  Or the other way around, if I never went to sleep, I’d never have to wake up and face another day.

As always, the leaving was the worst.  I woke up at 5am on Sunday morning already rolling through my brain the tangy, bitter bubbles of worries and concern.  My stomach was frothing.  I made deep breathes unclench my hands, and then I fell back to sleep, for a little while.  But soon it was time for goodbyes and a drive.

Every mile brought decisions and responsibilities closer.  All of the uncertainty on the horizon made me apprehensive.

Instead of being able to just get up and get shit done, I now have to do a hundred extra things simply to return to a moderate baseline of normality.  The anniversary of Silas’ death became the foundation and backdrop to both of Lu’s recent car accidents and although we are grateful that she is fine in both instances, at the same time, we’ve had enough.

Unfortunately, the Universe is bigger than me, so my enough is not a fraction of what the Universe can put forth.  Why it has Its Malevolent Eye on me, I do not know but nonetheless, now and then, I still do manage to have fun.  For example, today, I was a guest on a show on NPR and truly it was a dream come true.

I have been listening to NPR for 10 years.  I cut my Public Radio teeth on WGBH in Boston and the Car Talk guys have kept me smiling on many a brutal weekend mornings this past year.  I would give up TV for the rest of my life provided I could keep NPR and the NYTimes.  The Internet is non-negotiable, though.

So then today on one hand a dream came true, and on the other, at the garage where my totaled Matrix is stored they had already stuffed it far away in the back even though I called to say I was on my way to empty it completely.

I want the tires, too.  I just bought those fucking things along with a clutch 2 months ago and the transmission last year.  Maybe it is best to be done with that machine and start over with a fresh Matrix I can drive into the ground on the roads of CT, delivering coffee.

So many hoops, though, just to get back to normal.  Finding the car, financing, insurance, title, registration, emissions DMV, DMV… D…M…V.  So many actions and requirements that must be executed before I can get back to anything at all like that regular-ole-shit-ass life I’ve come to know and love(?).

The Universe doesn’t stop, though.  And it’s bigger than me.

Right now, to be honest, I think It is being a bit of bully.

But whatever, I can take it.  I’ve got fresh beer from friends from around the World, and love from so many people.  Today I got to be on NP-fucking-R and I got to sound as though I know a few things about coffee.  And for today that wins out over the crumpled frame of my totaled car.

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.

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.

Things are starting to get weird here.  Life is accelerating and I’m having trouble catching my breath.  I can feel tension in my neck and arm and back, pressure in my sinus.  The winter hit quick this year and the cold is making me tight and shivery.  It’s too soon to turn on the heat but we must.  We’re cold.  We use blankets on the couch and drink coffee to stay warm.  Coffee is everywhere in my life right now.

I felt restless and edgy today.  It could have been too much caffeine.  Or perhaps it was talking to customers that knew us before Silas but not since.  It’s probably both plus the apathy of emptiness.

Blah.  The blah is alive and well in my life now.  Bills, chores, bullshit, assholes, unwatchable TV and good ideas ignored all go blah now.  It’s phone calls to good friends I have to make that I can’t because who wants to hear from a disaster zone, and what is there to say?  Surprise!  Disaster Zone on the phone!  Were you feeling good before your caller ID blew up with a Sadness Bomb on the line?

I can’t even talk to myself sometimes because it’s too fucking catastrophic to comprehend.  So I let NPR do the talking or let music thump me down the road.

Besides, this is how it goes: (first there’s a loooong series of rings where I see the person looking at their phone and deciding if they can handle this right now.)  Then: Hey, hi it’s Chris.  Yeah I’m okay, you know.  Yes, yes, thank you.  I know there’s really nothing to say.  Thank you, yes we love his name so much too.  Yeah it’s fucked up, but we’re getting by somehow.  Most of the time okay and only sometimes terrible.  I know, I know, thank you.  If you can we will let you know.  So what the fuck?  How the hell are you?  What’s going on out there in *insert city*?

And I want to listen because I love my friends and I miss them a lot, but sometimes I can’t stop saying to myself: They are talking to a disaster.  Alert. Alert.  Disaster on the line.  Get out quick because it’s only going to get worse!  I have nothing to offer, no stories or smalltalk.  Help!  I can’t have normal conversations!  Is this normal?  Do you think I sound okay?  Please don’t say something awesome and make me cry.  Please don’t… awwww fuck.

And then I feel their love and how sad they are for me and how much they know I miss Silas, and that makes me realize again how much more I miss him than is even possible to comprehend and I almost drive off the road in tears.

Which is why I don’t call.  Because I don’t want drive off the road in tears.  Because your sadness for me makes my incessant longing for Silas impossibly sharp.  Because I am a disaster zone and the only reports coming out are: Recovery in progress.  Pitfalls abound.  Use Caution.  Danger.  Alert.  Danger.

The television has become loathed and worshiped.  Rock Band is an outlet that actually feels pretty good.  A few bagels hide in the freezer.  Bandha keeps asking to go outside, but then demands to be let back in because the cold has come.  Roasting coffee is amazing and only getting better.  Lu is the anchor that secures my soul and gives me reason to awake and take action every day.  Silas fills my heart.  I get lost in this apartment looking for clarity.

I wallow in sadness, sneering at the sky as I drive down I95 and the low winter sun strobes through the bare trees and I try not to cry.

I have nothing to offer but reports from our disaster zone, but if you’re interested I’ll try to give you a call.

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.

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 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.

Our cat Bandha has started disappearing from the yard in the afternoon.  I walk out back and I call and whistle for him but he’s nowhere to be found.  Then suddenly he’ll be weaving between my legs in the kitchen, talkin’ up to me, begging for food.

We only started letting the two cats outside this past summer, and after a few escape attempts they settled into just hanging out in the yard, vainly stalking squirrels and chirping at the birds.  One time Bandha did catch something, and he brought it in to Lu oh so very proud.  When he dropped the tiny white moth at her feet, all we could do was laugh.

But his behavior has changed.  Ever since that night we stayed over in the hospital, the night of Silas’ death, Bandha has been a bit different.

That night our friends came back to the apartment and cleaned up everything.  From random baby stuff to the mess of towels to the tub itself, they scoured the place for us, making sure we were returning to a warm and safe home void of too many reminders of our terrible tragedy.  To get the tub out they first had to pump the water out the window and in doing that left it open just a crack.  Bandha, being the dumbass that he is, managed to squeeze himself out of the window.  Once he had jumped down, though, he couldn’t get back in.  It rained all night that night.

When we returned the next day the female cat Chumby was acting strange and seemed very agitated.  Then I opened the back door and a few minutes later Bandha scampered in soaking wet and utterly exhausted.  After I chased him around to dry him off, he retreated to the bed and slept for hours.

Now, in the afternoons, he’s gone.  I call for him.  I watch for him in the yard, trying to figure out how’s he’s getting out.  But I never see him leave or return.  I shake the bag of treats, I wander around the backyard, I peer into other yards through the fences, but nothing.  And then he’s back.

Yesterday as I was searching for him something crossed my mind.  What am I really searching for here?  He’s a cat, he’s exploring, he keeps coming back.  Searching for him does nothing because there’s no way to know where he’s gone.  My search is deeper and more desperate.

I’m really searching for Silas and I will never find him in the back yards of the homes around us.  The only place we can find Silas now is deep in our hearts and in the love being showered upon us from so many sources.

I hope it is enough to sustain us and help us heal.  Today it seems that there will never be enough love to fill up what we have lost.

We have been alone today for an extended period for the first time since this happened, and I must confess, it sucks.  We are both so lost and damaged we can barely find our way around the kitchen.  But the training is valuable.  We need to be able to function in the world somehow, even if we’re just faking it real good.

I found a way to quell the morning knot of sadness.  Sleep till noon.  Only problem is that then it becomes the afternoon knot of sadness.  But then there’s lunch and that’s always nice.  After that I know there’s a beer in my future not too far away and then people stop by and there’s random shit to do in the house and then wow, check it out, evening has arrived!

Today was better than yesterday.  I think seeing family leave that had been here since the start of all of this caused some apprehension for me.  But it wasn’t us being left alone, it was just a shift change, and our recent company has been amazing.  I see things in the apartment that I think I should go and do, stuff like dishes or clothes piling up or just the regular mess of life but by the time I get up the gumption to do it, it’s already done.  Incredible.  Those simple acts of caring and organizing are so helpful in soothing our tortured souls.

Another shift change is in the works, but we know there are more people arriving soon.  So far, we have not been left alone in this house since this all started last week and that has been a very good thing.  The noise of other humans just being nearby banishes the terrifying quiet.  We will have to go there eventually, but just not quite yet.

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