The day after he died I thought Lu was next and me right behind her. On days two through five I was certain of it. At the time I talked a lot about how we couldn't let this loss destroy us and poison us and tear us apart but they were words mostly, words I spit out into the World hoping I could make them true. I had no confidence at all but no one knew.
Days five through thirty-something were a brutal crawl back from the edge of the greatest Abyss I had ever encountered. The sheer magnitude of what happened to us was impossible to to contain within my brain, my soul, my body. I could only capture pieces of it. The physical ache of no-child-in-my-arms was palpable. Having no reason to sleep and nothing to wake up for was another. The constant flow of people through our house distracted me at times, until I couldn't fake another conversation I didn't give a flying fuck about.
After that first month I managed to find my feet and started walking upright again. It was all fake--all a facade--but it was necessary to go through the motions if I ever wanted to heal, that I knew for sure. Besides, I had Lu to worry about and I needed to be strong. Sometimes I think I'm still faking it 32+ months later. Sometimes I think I always will be, that a vital of part of me vanished when Silas died. Then I remember that blind innocence is no virtue and that this experience is as real and true as love and hope and friendship and fear. It is always better if he lived but he didn't, so I had to, somehow. That's where I stood then and still do today.
Three months out I started to accept that I was probably going to survive his death and that our marriage would, too. Getting a tattoo on my arm that was visible to all was a big step forward for me. The pain of the ink entering my skin permanently ensured that I would always have a piece of Silas as part of my physical being as well as my heart & soul. To this day this tattoo is a balm and solace I treasure absolutely. Along with my wedding ring that has his name etched within, it is my most valuable possession. I love it when people ask about it and I get to decide how much to tell them. If it is someone I'm just getting to know it is a powerful way to deepen our friendship. If I'm in a conversation with someone who has recently experienced the loss of a loved one it is a mark of authenticity and truth, that I know their grief, I understand their pain, that despite everything they feel they are not alone.
Months three through twelve and beyond were eye-opening for me. I was constantly surprised that I could navigate the day so effectively, even though I felt like a shell of a human. Stressful moments were impossible and the pit that lived in my gut only expanded and contracted but never vanished completely. Sadness descended in waves I couldn't expect and couldn't surf. For the first time in my life I became a shitty, shitty sleeper. That has gotten better but I still don't sleep through the night like I did before. I guess I'm still listening for Silas' cries in the night, or his steady breath in the next room. I'm certain I always will be.
I began to wonder how many other people went through their days that way: faking the okay-ness, pretending to be fine and normal and happy. I was astounded to realize how deeply everyone held their pain. Lost parents, dead pets, an impossible relationship with someone they thought loved them, over and over again I learned how pain and sadness and loss and death were as much a part of life as the gorgeous sunrise and the beauty of the infinite stars above. Silas dying was terrible but everyone's story contained their own powerful losses in a thousand different ways. And through it all, Lu and I held on to each other and somehow managed to keep each other upright, loved and true.
But by the time a year had passed since his death a new bit'o'awfulness began to become clear. Getting Lu pregnant again was not happening. And that is when I started to learn how much bullshit people could throw our way without even thinking about it. "Oh you just need to relax!" "Once you stop trying it'll happen right away!" "She probably just needs a little wine and a vacation and it will be all good." Best of all were the, "Everything happens for a reason" jackasses. My son dying did not "happen for a reason." Our inability to get pregnant wasn't some dumbass fucking cosmic plan. Life is just fucked up and crazy shit happens and this was another example of that. Every month when Lu got her period it was like the Universe taking the little seeds of hope we had scattered in our souls and grinding them into a powdery dust we could mix with our tears and consume as a thin, awful gruel. IUI, IVF, hcg, acronyms I came to hate more than full words can describe. STFU and GTFO and LMTFA is more like it. I wanted nothing to do with any of it and it was all we had to hold on to.
Two years out and I was resigned to the fact that we just might not get to have kids. It wasn't something Lu was able to think about or hear, but I was preparing. I started to wonder how far she would want to go with all of this. Donor eggs? A surrogate? Perhaps a vat for growing a baby, no human required. I wondered how far I was willing to take this, as well. As a guy, I can never have a baby. I can have a child that has half my genes, but I can never create, gestate, grow and produce a living human being. With so many other children destitute and discarded I began to prepare my brain, heart and soul that I would have to love and nurture a child that wasn't a half replica of me. And quickly I realized that would be no problem at all. At 2 years out I had not given up on the possibility of having our own kid but I was definitely preparing for that eventuality. I had to in case I had to get Lu to that point, too.
Unending disappointment is a powerful force. Consistent and repeated negative reinforcement is unstoppable. I learned to make do with the fact that I was alive and often happy even though Silas had died, but that I could and should never expect anything more than that.
Now there is more than that for the first time since he died, and I have no idea how to feel. Or rather I know exactly how I feel, but I don't know if it is safe or wise or terrible to feel this way. I just know I feel all of it, all the time right now and so I try to go slow through the World and do everything right, everything I can. Yet still, once again, all I can do I watch and help from the outside as Lu goes through growing this next new life within her.
So I will tell you right where I am 2.66666667 years after Silas died. I'm in the same apartment where he was pulled from Lu, where the ambulances tore up to, where the EMTs stormed in. I'm in love with my wife and the love of my life. I'm sore and tired from a gorgeous weekend of camping and music with friends and fun and laughter. I'm amazed by the bulge in Lu's belly and the ultrasounds that finally show another little life. I'm terrified of what could happen, what we could lose, what we did lose without Silas here today asking questions. I'm right here at home, hoping for hope, still perfecting the plummet that should end in flight. Still waiting for a child in my arms. Still alive. Still easy to cry. Still angry, still sad. Still okay. And as often I as I can, just still.
This post is part of Angie's Right Where I Am Project. I read hers and my wife Lu's and I felt a strong connection to the theme. Angie gave me the go-ahead to post mine here at Glow but it would be great to continue her project over on her site as well. I will post her instructions in the comments so we can keep this whole thing going.