Tomorrow is Silas's birthday. He would be four years old. Imagining our four year old son cavorting through this house, the yard, our lives, is painfully impossible. I can imagine what that Universe would look like from the outside, but not how it would feel in there.
It would have the same hint of crimson in the leaves and the same gorgeous fall breeze alight on a brilliant blue day. There would be the same cool and colder nights and suddenly hot September afternoons. But maybe I would not notice the touch of decay creeping into the shadows. Certainly the first falling, orange leaf I witnessed would not carry the weight of death and despair like it always does now. With my amazing son's fourth birthday helping to usher in autumn, I probably would not hate this time of year.
September makes me cringe. With the flip of the calendar I know what is coming, but I have no idea how to deal with it. I doubt I ever will.
Taking a quick inventory it appears that this year's emotions are: helplessness, fear, anger, disbelief, confusion and a deep and abiding despair. In other words, same as it ever was. In detail: I can't change the past. I'm afraid of anything happening to Zeph, ever. I'm still quite upset with the midwives, and at my foolish, naive trust in them. That this is my life and that my firstborn son is dead remains impossible. Four years now I still don't know how to properly prepare for and honor his birth/death day. And of course, still, always and forever, I am profoundly sad I don't get to share my life with him and see what kind of man he would have grown into, and how he would have changed me.
I always feel all of that on some level, but this month and week and final days compress and tighten in my veins like my blood is being replaced with liquid concrete as my memory unfolds the events of that long night and longer day.
Growing up my mother would always recount the events leading up to my birth. I loved hearing her tell me our beautiful, shared history. But Silas's day is made of silence. No one wants to hear that story and I can barely stand my own mind as it ticks off each milestone and moment.
The outpouring of love and support from friends and family as Sept 25 approaches yet again has been... nonexistent. I'm shocked that is the case, frankly. Maybe they are planning a surprise grief party, but I doubt it.
Our families had been incredibly supportive and understanding as Lu and I thrashed in agony in the first years after he was gone, and then they continued to handle us gently and kindly as time passed. But maybe four years is enough for them. They did their best, and now that's pretty much it. New son in our life and new babies all around means new beginnings and big happiness for everyone and it's time to move on and let Silas drift into our past, as if his life was just something that happened, instead of something that is.
There will be a few friends that are conscious enough to make a call or send a text or email. And I almost wish I could steal all knowledge of Silas from my amazing mother debilitated from MS and my incredible father taking care of her, if only just to save them from any more hardship and sadness, but I know they are crippled with despair over the loss of their grandson, and I know they know what is about to happen once again. I wish I felt that same conscious understanding from others, but the fact is people are mostly wrapped up in themselves, and if you want anything from them you need to tell them clearly and loudly exactly what you want.
But that's the problem. I can't say, "Hey it's going to be Silas's birthday in a few days and it is still really really tough, so I need you all to just say his name to me and tell me you miss him and show me that you remember." Because if you have to remind someone to remember something, they're not really remembering at all, are they? They are just responding to your clearly spoken need without any of the actual remembering or forethought. And that fucking hurts. It's that same expectation game all over again, but I don't really give a shit. They should remember. They should tell me that. They should reach out and grab me as the calendar winds up to Sept 25 and launches me to the edge of the Abyss once again.
Instead we'll do it ourselves, and take care of each other as we always have. We are going to Silas's tree tomorrow. This will be the first year we have a living, breathing child in our lives and it definitely makes it far better than it has ever been before. Of course as we sit there around his older brother's memorial tree I am not going to be able to stop thinking about the fact that someday I will have to share this deep sadness with this gorgeous, innocent child. And that, of course, is awful. I don't have any idea how I'm going to handle that or how his understanding of this awful history will affect him as he grows up. I already feel terrible that we will have to break his heart someday.
Me, Lu and Zeph are going to Silas's tree tomorrow, and we're going to plant tulips and have a little lunch picnic and cry our fucking eyes out and laugh at our amazing son who loves to play with sticks more than toys and enjoys eating rocks as much as fruit. He loves both of us so vividly he almost can't handle it sometimes. He's a wonderfully wild and alive little child and I wish with every cell of my being he had an older brother to torment and grab and run with and learn from and squeeze just as hard as he yanks on us.
I'm not working at all tomorrow. I'm just spending the day with Zephyr, as I always do on Tuesdays. It should be his older brother's birthday party. Instead it is something else I wish no one would ever have to endure. With silence all around and everyone consumed by their own lives, we will embrace each other hard and make this awful day slightly less unbearable just by doing it together.
The concrete fills my veins drop by drop as this day approaches, until I am immobilized by sadness, and my soul shatters with every step I take through his birthday, his deathday, his impossibly brief life. I will settle into bed as dust tomorrow night and I will dream of his stars and wish his younger brother had Silas in his life.
How has the day of your child's birth and death changed over the years? How many years have gone by since you lost them? What has changed about how you deal with that day? How have the people around your responded (or not) to that anniversary?