I'm So Happy For You

Babies are appearing everywhere, and the afternoon light is such that I expect for us to be expecting, too. The late-setting sun blasts through the windshield as I turn off the exit to my house. The angle of those rays are filled with meaning.

This is the season of my almost-fatherhood. This is the time last year when all I could think about was everything that I thought was to come.

There were so many plans and hopes in the works. Spring and summer were full of boundless potential and imminent adventures. The full bellies and multi-strollers all around foretold our amazing future, and I was thrilled to be on the cusp of fatherhood.

Fulfillment, success, perfection, they were within my grasp and now all I hold is dust and desolation.

Since it is impossible to grasp dust, and because desolation rots the soul, I have stopped trying to hold anything.

This has become my summer of the willing suspension of disbelief. I'm working hard at accepting the World as it is, and dealing with whatever is exactly in front of me.

I learned that from my parents. My mother has had MS since before I was born, and over the years they have shown me how to handle the impossible trials of their everyday life. Do the next thing first and then deal with whatever comes after that.

Do it right, do it with humor, don't stop until it's done. Don't rely on anyone else. Don't be surprised when it doesn't go at all the way you think it will. Don't give up and don't stop loving the people around you. Those are the lessons they taught me, and I'm working hard at most of them.

I'm stuck at Don't Give Up, though. I know there are people around me ready and willing to support me with their love, if only I would return an email or make a call. The ball is definitely in my court at this point. For phone-tag I am IT a thousand times over.

It is beyond me right now, though.

Reading through the interview below I was struck by how clearly I identified with all of those Phases, but I was surprised in that I seemed to be experiencing them completely out of order.

I feel like I've been through Confrontation and even a little Accomodation, but that Avoidance is where I stew these days.

It is a nuanced Avoidance. I don't stop thinking about Silas all day. I don't pretend that my life is anything that it is not. I know to the core of my being the depth of our loss. Or at least, I know how deep it seems to go from here. I have few illusions left at this point. I'm not avoiding his name, or the pain of losing him.

I am always ready to talk about Silas but I attempt to avoid all external reminders of what we should have.

That list includes: newborns, babies, people that just had babies or are pregnant, talk of the trials of having kids, strollers, carseats, first birthdays, the Internet, driving, walking and being awake. As long as I keep all of that out of mind & sight, I should be just fine. Ha!

Another part of the problem is that I'm starting to feel bad about how bad I still feel. I don't want to talk to friends because it's the same goddam fucking sob story every fucking time. I'm sick of hearing myself sometimes. I'm sick of hearing my soul's lament, sick of my mind devising strategies to fix our broken lives, sick of my heart oozing despair and ichor whenever another scar is peeled back, or a new, surprising wound pierces my defenses.

July was brutal. Three of my closest friends had babies this month and essentially all I could do was ignore them. Didn't stay in bed moping. Didn't drive off to the wilderness and leave everyone behind. Didn't stop working or playing or living. But when it came to those three, they were mostly out of my life.

I kept in contact until the day of birth, but after they each went perfectly, I had to cut them off for the moment. I feel like an asshole of the highest order, but I had to do it in order to save myself.

The idea of even talking to them on the phone to congratulate them, knowing they were holding their perfect new child in their arms, it took the push out of my fingers for every digit of their phone number. These are people I love and care about and all I can do is nothing.

I'm active and alert and fully engaged in most of my life, but the new babies are impossible right now. Once I start thinking about my friends, I think about everything they are doing with their new child and those thoughts completely immobilize me.

I know babies. I love babies. I don't mind the cheesy puke or the weird, wide alien eyes or the tears of hunger or confusion. I used to love babies.

But there is a period of time between birth and 'baby' that I really don't know anything about. By the time I've met most children they were at least a few weeks old, if not months, and I've never had that true newborn experience. I thought it was going to be a special, beautiful time with my son and first-born, but that was not the way it happened. So now, when I hear about a new child in the World, it fills me with a mix of hope and dread and joy and fear that is impossible to parse.

I'm thrilled for the parents. I'm thrilled the child is alive and healthy. I'm jealous beyond words that they have that child to cherish and nuture. I'm terrified by how close they came to living in my World without ever considering how bad it can get, and I'm enraged at myself for my inablity to do anything but look away.

All I can do is say how HAPPY I AM FOR YOU and look away, look away. I look away and try to feel Silas and hate how much his name sounds like Silence.


What is your collateral damage? Where do you feel stuck? Are there certain aspects or phases of grief that you find particularly daunting? What do you avoid? What do you seek out?