I don't have a picture of Silas handy. I know I can go to my blog and look at the photo we have posted there, and we have a framed memorial with his image and footprint and handprint and a photo of his name in the sand. In the drawer next to my bed, I keep his ashes in a small orange jar with a cork in the top. Lu got it for me for other reasons years ago, but when we needed to transport a portion of his remaining physical form to the memorial site in the park up the street, that's what I had and that's what I used, and that's where I keep that part of him.
I have a tattoo on my arm that is the most present aspect of Silas in my life. Like him it is part of me, forever.
The ink in my skin has become the perfect metaphor of my mental picture of him. Long ago he ceased to be a person and transformed into a force. His energy blows at my soul and turns in me in ways I never expected. All these years later and I can feel his brief life exerting its pressure on my heart, my consciousness, my view of the world.
The exact same white EMT truck just blew past my window as loud and terrifying as the day he was born. I dread where it is going. That is Silas as real and true as anything I can conjure.
When I hear of a new pregnancy, when I see women round with life, when someone unknowing tells me about plans for the perfect birth experience I feel Silas in my nervous system. My thoughts and memories and ideas of "him" are transcribed into the way I feel the world in a terrible, tangible, painful way. And I love it.
Those sensations: the feel of the tattoo under my skin, my terror for those beautiful mothers-to-hopefully-be, the raw reality of a toddler boy exactly his age, I need them.
Silas can't be anything for me himself. He doesn't have the voice to speak to me about his needs and wants, doesn't have the face to draw my gaze and steal my heart. I don't know anything about who he would have been, but I can feel in those grievous sensations all the hopes and expectations I had for both of us, and I love them. After all, those brutal sensations are all I have to keep my connection to the son I never knew. Funny huh? No, not really but no one else gets how fucked up this all gets besides us, the ones that are in the midst of this furnace that never stops burning.
We aim to have a Glow here in the Woods, for people to find when they are lost. The part we don't often mention is that we don't just use this fire for light and warmth. We use it to sear our souls over and over again, to touch the pain and drink it deep. When I saw his ashes in my drawer only moments ago while looking for some random object it generated a sensation in my body that few people know.
This, this is what I have. This is the most and all that I have. This is more than what I have because his ashes are years older than he ever was. That little jar. That little life. The wrongness of a life snapped off so short is gut-wrenching and violently wrong, and that's my life, his life. So the sound that came out of my face wasn't a laugh or a grunt or a groan, but something all the way in between. It was a guttural acknowledgement of how fucking awful life can be, and how much I miss his life never-to-be, and how little I can do about any of it.
I don't have him or a picture of him handy, but I have so much more of him in and with and around me than anyone would ever know. My grief for his lost life burns bright in my soul and I love hating how much it hurts. I step right up to the moments when it hurts the most because that's how I can feel him in the most visceral, literal way. His absence burns me to a crisp, and I relish in the charred memories and the hopes made of smoke and tears.
How do deal with the pain when your lost child or children is suddenly present in your life? Do you seek out experiences that will hurt, in order to feel them close? Do you grieve in secret, special, private ways? How has your view of grief and pain changed?