The hawk is stationary above the highway. The mundane light post is transformed into a majestic perch with the beaked, mottled, patient bird gripping the metal with its talons. It is looking for prey, but it feels like it was waiting for us.
We always point them out to one another on our drives, and not a word has to be spoken. Silas, we both think. Silas there somehow in the penetrating gaze of the bird, even though we don't really believe that, not in any direct, concrete way. It's not his reborn spirit in there. It's not his soul transformed into a hawk.
Instead, it is a living, breathing symbol that we can hang our grief on. Silent, alien, unknowable, beautiful and free, the creature is a perfect specimen of raw nature and it represents so much of what we don't have from Silas, and so much of what we wanted him to be.
Three hawks today. Yesterday I saw one plummet from the sky to the median between the north and soundbound lanes and then leap into the sky with some squirming fur in its grasp. The hawks are reminders of his life in a safe and abstracted way.
After all, it is hard to remember someone you never got to know.
We remember him as an absence, as a lack, and the hawk serves as a placeholder for everything we still don't understand about why Silas is not here with us today.
At night when the hawks sleep Orion captures my vision instead. Pinpricks of light billions of lightyears away arranged just so, and they pierce me with their interstellar light every time. We chose that name for him, selected that specific connection, and it ensures that every single night that our planet faces that part of the sky I see him and think of him and hold him close in my heart.
Closer yet, though, is the ink in my arm. It is a tree of life darkened with death and sprinkled with the stars of his constellation, surrounded by a ring of "S"s. And it's funny/not-funny how much an "S" looks like a broken infinity symbol.
Silas is gone forever, but I still find him every day in pieces of my life. In the hawk above, in the blazing stars of the Universe beyond, in the very fabric of my skin. I will never stop missing him, even when happy, even when feeling good and right.
His name is engraved on the inside of our wedding rings, just like it is etched on the deepest walls of our hearts. The symbols help us remember him as we hoped he would be, but the pain ensures we will never forget the child we do not get to hold in our arms.
What are the symbols you connect to your lost child or children? Did you create the connection or did some outside force cause you to recognize it? Do those symbols and reminders bring you peace or pain? Have the symbols changed over time?