I'm used to the lies by now. They are common and easy to say. I say them for the sake of other people, but also for myself. I have to lie so that I'm not always the guy that sucks the air out of a room, even if that room is the entire outdoors on a glorious fall day at the farmer's market and someone has questions about me, about my life, about how I'm doing. There is no point in ruining every idle conversation and friendly chatter with truth about my dead son Silas.
You're welcome everyone I spared the honest recounting of my recent life. It isthe absolute least I can do, and it cuts me with a slice of sadness every time I do it. Three years since he died and it is still recent to me. Because it is not so much that time has healed my wounds as much as it is that the wounds themselves are the very nature, the very fabric, of my everyday existence. I miss Silas as a matter of course, just like breathing, just like moving my body, like blinking, like the beat of my heart.
I am still amazed to have learned that a heart can remain beating when it feels like only dust and awful and the endless void inside. I am compelled to go forward, no matter the pain of my past. If anything, his lost life is a fuel for me to live twice as hard, twice as present, twice as calm as I ever would have before. Not enough, of course, it will never be enough.
Things don't always happen for a reason, and it is always better with Silas sleeping in a room just beyond the wall. That is a lie I usually don't let people tell me. That's one I have to correct whenever that awful platitude is thrown in my face. I try to be nice about it, but I can't help but say that no I don't think everything happens for a reason.
I think each of us are a living force to make reason and sanity and beauty and love out of absolute chaos and despair. We lie to ourselves about feeling okay until one day it sticks a little bit. We pretend that it is fine to not demolish everything we see out of rage and loss. We answer the questions. We smile through the pain, feeling the smile our son or daughter might have shared through glorious living genes. We breathe their lost thoughts. We dream their silent fears and inchoate hopes and live a tiny shadow life sometimes of what should be. What could have been. What isn't.
I have to remind myself that I'm not crazy sometimes. When I wake up from the dream where I've missed the flight again, but I don't really care, but I do because I should but I really don't. I have to lay there for a moment and chill, hoping there are still hours before the appointed time of get the fuck out of bed or else. And I lay there and wonder how I'm not crazy, with a dead son and lost future and all. It feels good, then, in the cool autumn morning, when I feel dream-crazy and life-crazy and sleepy-person-lazy-crazy and realize that everyone feels this way. Everyone lies about how okay they seem to be going down the road feeling fine.
But look at the art. Look at the movies and books and paintings and poets. Read the headlines. Walk the streets. There are endless crazy universes inside everyone's head. A precise and compelling recounting of life and death and love and loss inside the brain of everyone around you. Some are people of this community that don't even know we exist. Babylost medusa crazed father parents that don't have their kids are out there in the towns and cities and hamlets where all of you live. Not to mention families that are victims of car accidents, cancer, embolisms, old age, and on and on.
The people around us tell us lies to help themselves, to save us, to get by.
I always wanted to crush every moment of time that I have into a succulent nectar of life itself that I could wallow in and enjoy. I thought that raising my son Silas was going to be the way I could do that. I anticipated a rich life remembering my childhood as I stood there amazed at his development. I thought I was going to be the best dad of all time. I couldn't wait to learn everything I couldn't even begin to comprehend as I watched my son live his amazing life.
September 25, 2008 was supposed to be the start of an incredible chapter of life and growth and offspring and hope in my life and instead it was the complete opposite. And when he died I had a choice. I could give up or I could go forward. For a moment the choice was absolutely clear. When I was told that he was dead in that moment I could have followed him along directly. A leap off the building. A scalpel. The wall and my head. But then right away thoughts of Lu and family and friends flooded my brain. I had to be strong because this situation was already going to fuck everything up forever and I couldn't also double down and make it worse.
So for many, many months, not killing myself was the baseline I had established as "doing pretty good." Plus, when you start there, getting out of bed is like successfully ascending Mt. Everest. I gave myself accolades for simply going outside for a little while. But those impulses kept growing, kept beating in my heart, kept pushing me forward. I learned to lie and love it. I learned to breathe again. And yet I'm still not sure I can reconcile what my life should be vs what it is today, right here, one month out from Lu's c-section and the start of everything that comes next.
Everything is always coming next, and it is the incredible human spirit, our very nature, that allows us to face the day and tell the lies and forge the hope we have no right to expect and yet we do, and we do and we do.
Make your lies wishes. Live extra bright and do not let the lies you have to tell stop you from living your life as honestly as you can. We will always have a special armor, a veneer of experience that is too awful to wish on anyone but also incredibly, terribly, powerfully true.
Go easy through your day and let the simple, innocent grace of your lost child guide you toward patience and serenity. Oh and also, don't go any more crazy than you are. We're all crazy enough as it is, and that's the truth.
What are your lies? What are your truths? Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? How do you fit the truth of your lost child or children into your sense of the how the world works? Do you feel crazy and okay like me?