I move slowly through the world now. I used to rush all the time. Always on the go ready for next next next. Busy at work, busy with friends, I was always looking forward to whatever it was that was happening tomorrow or next week or next month. Throughout Lu's pregnancy I had my gaze focused on the end result, on having our child in our arms and the whole rest of our lives to get started, finally.
Her water broke, the mid-wives arrived, the longest night of my life started, and all I wanted was for it to be over and our child to arrive.
What I would give to go back to that night and tell the me that no longer exists what was going to happen, and what I had to do to fix it.
To the hospital, now, I would tell me. Fuck the supposed knowledge and experience of those terrible mid-wives. Fuck their surety, how certain they were that it would all be fine. Fuck the protestations of my wife who would not have wanted to go at first. Fuck all of that. To the hospital where we should have been the whole time I would have insisted and none would have stood in our way. The me-then that was terrified and the me-now that is shattered, Lu too, together we might have had a chance. Silas might have had a chance. Instead dawn broke and he still hadn't arrived until finally in the afternoon they had to drag him out of her, bloody, blue and not breathing at all.
Suddenly we couldn't go fast enough. The ambulance couldn't arrive quickly enough. We couldn't get to the hospital in time. We raced and raced but it was far too late, he was gone gone gone. Everything I wanted and waited for smashed to pieces in a single afternoon, as though the Universe itself had just dropped an infinitely dense and heavy brick directly on my soul.
Now, I go slow. The stress and pressure I used to thrive on now makes me incredibly anxious and uncomfortable. It started right away. As we lay splayed out and shattered by grief and loss, all I could do was take it moment my moment. After a few days I began to be able to think an hour or two into the future. As in, maybe I'll eat something... later. Eventually, after many months of paralyzing sadness, I re-learned how to last a day and take the next as it came. Tomorrow I'll shower, I'd think, and then fell an immense sense of accomplishment when I achieved that lofty goal.
When I finally started working again I quickly realized that the way I used to do things was no longer appropriate. I used to finish things just-in-time, but when I tried to do that again I found myself shaking with stress, palms sweaty, and my mind in turmoil as I tried to prioritize and execute what needed to be done. After several near-panic attacks, I learned I no longer functioned that way. So I stopped trying. Silas's death taught me that time will not wait, and if you don't have enough of it to get something done right, you're not going to get any more.
So it's slow how I go, now. Slow to rise from bed, slow to eat, slow steps through another day without Silas at my side. He's inside me only, now. Transferred in death from inside Lu only, beautifully, to inside both of us, terribly. Inside me are the memories of my hopes for him; the expectations of what being his father would be like; the shape and feel of the world that I would have lived in, if he lived in it, too.
I take my time because I experience time differently than I did before Silas died. Because now I know all to well that we only get one chance to experience each moment in time, and if you miss it or do it wrong or forget what you're about, it is gone gone gone, never to return.
I've come to hate rushing. Whenever I have to rush to do anything, I feel an echo of that day when we couldn't rush enough, couldn't stop time, couldn't turn things back, couldn't hold on to what was vanishing before our eyes. We rushed after our hope, our love, our son, and we couldn't catch up to him no matter how fast we went.
So now I go slow and try to get it right. I couldn't survive another terrible, monumental mistake like losing Silas. Better to tread carefully, watch closely, savor what I have right in front of me and never for a second expect the Universe to take up the slack when I fuck things up. But no matter how slow I go, I can never go slow enough to turn it back, to save Silas, to change that terrible day.
Time pushes me forward away from him, forcing me to face every new day with a shadow across my heart cast by the absence of my son, his tiny features etched in my mind: perfect, beautiful and timeless.
How did the death of your child or children transform your sense of time? Do you think about time differently now? If years have passed since you child died, has time changed in the intervening years? If you could go back in time would you be able to change what happened? Would you want to?