Invisible Shadows

Silas’s invisible shadow leaves markers of emotion on the milestones of Zephyr’s life.  From birth to smile to first steps to sentences, I revel in Zeph’s vibrant growth overflowing with life, yet I feel the silent echo of our lost son’s nonexistent experiences reverberating through the house, Lu’s eyes, my soul.

Everyone sees Zeph as an only child.  That’s what he is in every obvious way.  But I cannot help wondering how different his life and personality would have been if Silas were here as his older brother.  That it is impossible to fathom how that fundamental variation would have transformed all of our lives is slightly maddening.  I try to picture it and vanish down the vortex of endless possibilities.

I dread the moment Zephyr realizes or is told about the friend and brother he should have had. That sadness is a shadow on my every gesture and thought, and I hate that he will learn, someday, what he doesn’t have. At night as I lay in bed, sometimes the pipes start to knock as they heat up and warm the house.  First it’s soft and light, then louder and more solid.  The knocks are intermittent but consistent and when they wake me up in the middle of the night and I lay there listening, anticipating, waiting for each next knock, I can’t help but think about the soft gray ashes in the drawer next to my bed, next to my head that are all that is left of Silas’s corporeal body and although I don’t believe in ghosts or hauntings or maybe even the afterlife at all, I can’t help but hear his shadow knocking on my soul, knocking softly every day and night, knocking softly on my heart.

I see his fleet shadow flying around the corner when I walk with Zeph down the block.  Silas is already ahead, already gone, but I’ve got to keep this little guy’s hand in mine as we amble along, going slow like only a two year old can do.

Do you have moments when you feel your lost child closely?  Is it a sound or a place or state of mind?  If you were fortunate enough to have children after your lost child, what was it like to explain to them what happened?  How do you deal with the what-ifs & should-have-beens?