Take my heart out and you will see the scar. From top to bottom, jagged across the middle, the scar is still raw and pink.
But against all odds, my heart is nearly whole. Lu and I took the time to stitch the other's back together with words and love and patience and time.
Pass by pass, stitch by stitch she sealed and healed my rendered soul, my tattered heart, and helped me learn how to walk and speak and think again.
I thought I was going to die in the days after he did. I thought we would be demolished by the unfathomable grief and lacerating sadness.
Yet somehow, now, eight years out from the day I married Lu, I can somehow still think that I am lucky to have her in my life. Lucky that we have our amazing son Zephyr. Lucky that we found a way to rediscover laughter, to allow light to re-enter our darkened world. We are lucky to be together despite our terrible loss.
I married her because she was beautiful and sweet, patient and spontaneous, because she was steadfast, honest, brilliant and true. What I didn't know then is that she was one of the strongest and most determined people I would ever know. Her strength of will and incredible outlook on life were absolutely pivotal in our ability to stay together and stay in love when everything around us shattered and disintegrated on the day he died.
She healed my heart with her gorgeous, liquid eyes, and I held her tight through terrible days when not one single thing in the world made a speck of sense.
But the scar remains and always will, and if you look closely enough you will see that it is only nearly whole. There is still and always a space, a void, an endless abyss in the shape of my son Silas. It looks minuscule from a distance, but don't be fooled.
That fleck of darkness on the surface of my pulsing heart expands wider and wider the closer you get until the obsidian midnight rift is all-encompassing, swallowing the field of vision until we pass within, into the endless shadow of my limitless grief.
I don't want that hole closed.
I don't want to give away the pain of his absence.
I don't want to ever be so healed that I cannot feel him in me, in us, in our sense of the world.
When Silas died I had no idea what it was like to have a son. I was hurled into a shadow world of counter-factuals, of impossible ignorance. I thought Silas was going to teach me how to be a dad, but instead I learned how to grieve and not die from it. With Zephyr so vivid and alive right before my very eyes, everything I was denied is being revealed, but the weight of losing Silas makes me ballistic with fear sometimes. I panic at the slightest thought of anything happening to Zephyr, ever, for any reason at all. Yet just as I refused to let grief define and destroy me, so too do I deny the power of fear to stop me from reveling in Zeph's every breath.
Lu is an amazing mom, and I am thrilled to share this life with her. I cannot believe to this day that I can feel this good, after so many years of terrible sadness. The strangest part, though, is how that still-present sadness mixes with the happiness I feel when I spend the day with Zeph, or watch him curled up and nursing in Lu's lap, or hearing him shouting "Dada!" when I get home from work.
The echo of his shout is the silence from Silas and the knowing look in Lu's eyes. She hears what I don't either.
I love them all fiercely, the two here with me, and the one we can only share in our sewn-up and scarred hearts. This is our family and it will always be so: drenched in light and love and happiness and shadowed by our loss that we can never fully comprehend.
What do your metaphysical scars look and feel like? How have you and your partner navigated the treacherous landscape of your life together after losing your child or children? How do your living children affect the memory of what you have lost?