too busy

I'm too busy raising my son to acknowledge how sad it makes me to see him alone in the yard.  He's playing in the sandbox solo, his cars and trucks pushing the grit around wrapped by his tiny perfect fingers.

 I hide behind the glare of the summer sun in the door, hide behind the glare of the book on my tablet. He's alone, no older brother tormenting or teaching him how to be a maniac.  Luckily he's figured that out all on his own, mostly.  I do have my moments.

Laconic and prone to naps I don't have the energy a 6 year old would have.  That relentless running; that sturdy, focused dash at top speed yet three year old slow would be beaten by the speed of his older brother across the yard, which would now be too small for the four of us.

But here there's three.  Us and him.  Her and us.  Them and me.  Whatever the daily configuration happens to be, it always comes back to us three.

He doesn't know yet.  He has no inkling.

There was a moment about a year ago that I have told no one about when Zeph happened to see a framed memorial to his lost brother.  It was a photo of Silas, his footprint, our tattoos, and his name in the sand at the beach during sunset.  It was on the floor near my dresser where Lu and I can always see it.

"Baby is sleeping," he said when he glanced at it and my heart was knifed.  I nearly fell over.

"Yes, baby is sleeping," I replied and we continued on our daily adventures with my heart pounding and my skin prickly and flushed all over my body.

I rolled on calm because there was no one else to play with, just him and me.  I couldn't collapse like I wanted to.  I couldn't freak out and howl at the unfairness of the world.  I couldn't sit down and tell him everything, that he had an older brother Silas but that Silas was dead and none of us ever knew him at all.

He's two point five.  I'm forty.  Silas should be here with us but he's not, so I have to make sure Zeph has all the fun he would have had with the older brother he will never have.

I am totally distracted by the growth of this being.  I tell him every day that he's my best friend, my squishy boy, my Zephyr.  I am so busy loving him I don't have time to be destroyed by how sad I am he's alone.


What excuses do you make for yourself to get by?

playing with fire

Lu had a miscarriage recently.  We were shocked and amazed that she was pregnant, but the glow didn't last. Within days of seeing that second line it became clear this pregnancy would not be continuing.  

I don't know how much more heartache this family can take.  

We are trying for life and siblings and family.  We are striving against time, against history, against death, against memory.  I want Zeph to have a brother, but he already didn't have one before he was born.  I want our family to be a crew, but we are missing our Silas and we don't know if we will ever have more.

I love my two brothers and I loved growing up in our family of five.  It was crazy, beautiful, loving chaos.  It was always an event, every single day.  Somehow my parents spread their deep and abiding love all over our tiny, growing souls.  Despite illness and anger and sadness for my mother's MS, they imparted a profound love for laughter, for friendship, for family and for fun.  I always envisioned having a two or three kids, but that is looking less and less likely and I'm not sure how much harder we should push.  We have Zeph and he is amazing.

Zeph is my pure joy.  Despite poops and crazy baby toddler behaviors and utter two-year-old defiance, I can only see and think and feel how lucky I am that this being is in our life.  He should have an older brother.  I wish he had a younger sibling of any kind at all.  I want all of that, but I am terrified to try.  We are old.  The odds are not in our favor.  We barely handled a miscarriage at 7 weeks.  What happens at 20, at 30, at 40?  We have traveled the dark path of death and I can never go back.  I want to have everything for my son, but I know too much to have any illusions about what can happen.

And lastly, of course, are the 'positive outlook' people that would call me out for not thinking positively and not hoping for the best.  But I just don't give a fuck about any of that anymore.  Haven't for a while. What I think, what I hope for, what I want, it has absolutely no bearing on what biologically happens in my wife's uterus. Some may believe otherwise, and if it helps them that's fantastic but it just doesn't work for me.

I can't go back to the vortex ever again.  I can't touch that deep dark deathness where Silas went.  And yet I will. We all will.  The only path forward is to try everything and to know that only nothing awaits.  My parents will die. People I know and love will die.  But I can't lose another child, not ever again.  So to keep trying is to play with fire, and I know I can't handle the pain if we fail.

The spring is sneaking into the afternoon sun.  The daylight has been saved.  We get to collect a little more of that light late in the day when it's time to walk off work's sour funk and I wandered slowly with my son to the park today.  I didn't hear Silas then.  I didn't think about what Zeph is missing, who should have been leading the way.  I was so fully engaged in the beautiful moments of his experience that I didn't imagine anything else.  

Yet, when we check every month to see if he'll have a sibling I am suddenly pulled back into that terrible world of hope that resolves into failure.  The deep well of sadness that always lives in my heart flows again, to all my limbs and heart and mind, drowning me anew.


Have you suffered subsequent losses after losing your child?  How difficult or easy was it to try to have more children after your loss?  Did both partners share the same outlook or was one more or less adamant, hopeful, afraid, etc?  How does your family compare to the one you grew up in?

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?

The Chill

I love this time of year, right up until the moment
when I feel the chill in the summer eve.

The back of my arms legs neck, the slight scent of decay.

We're bright and beautiful in the summer sun
and then nightfall
and night breeze
and the darkness spreads around me.

We fucked up last year.  We didn't prepare.
Too consumed by the stunning child in our haunted lives
the rage and sadness and death and madness
snuck up, as only memories can do.

Five years without Silas.
A blazing son on his way to his amazing birthday
that instead is merely anniversary.

That first chill of late summer orients my soul.
Distracted by the wild life and breathing love
I suddenly feel exactly like the night we collected the birthing tub.
The indigo evening, the creaking crickets, the harbingers of doom;
they are now his silent calls made mine, made into
the broken sounds of hope stilled, that future killed.

I love this time of year,
but I cannot breathe in the gorgeous evening summer breeze
as my love for Silas falls from my wet, silent eyes,
and I die a little more inside, again,
wanting him quietly, deeply, desperately as dusk settles.
Waiting for his breath I sit still,
chilled to my bones in the sweet summer eve.


Please post a poem or prose rant to your lost child.  My son would have been five years old on Sept. 25, and instead I just get Fall.  What do you get?  What have you found?  What can any of us do about being part of this tribe?

the other way

Some scientists say there are parallel worlds, realities stacked side by side like books on a shelf, or piled high in an old, dusty attic.  That seems obvious to me now that I have a whole other life hidden in my head.

The day went smoothly, the birth long but ultimately raw and right and beautiful and true.  Those first insane and breathtaking days when Silas was in our arms and screaming in our ears and staring into our eyes seemed to pass instantly and slowly, all at once.  The uncertainty of new-parenthood was a knot of fear and hope and determination in the core of my being.  I was positive I was the happiest person in the entire world, but then I'd look at my wife Lu as she breast-fed him, and I wasn't quite so sure.  Maybe the happiest man on Earth, I thought, settling for that and into the couch next to their bonded bliss.

Weeks turned to months and already a big baby, he grew fast on mom's milk.  I learned to change diapers, to hear the language of his wailing cries in the middle of the night, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the everything.  The middle of everything, that's exactly what he was whether he was awake or asleep, or whether I was, too. He slept well.  He was ahead of the curve.  Naps were long and pleasant.  He weaned easily and ate everything.  He learned to talk early and told us things I could never imagine.

On it goes, that impossible world, each day we didn't live that way seared into my mind as time pressed on.

The not-so-funny-part is that I had to make it all up before Zeph came along, but now I know exactly, specifically, precisely every single fucking detail of everything that we missed and everything we won't have. That parallel world I first inhabited wasn't just a figment of my imagination, it was the only salve to my damaged soul.  Simply accepting this world with all of its not-Silas-ness was a physical impossibility. I fantasized that whole other way as I cried and drove or lay stewing wide awake deep in the night, not hearing the wails of my dead son.

For years I was a shadow of myself, a projection of what I should be, even as half of me was gone within, wading into the deep deep deep waters of grief and anger, of loss and pain, of utter and complete rage that the midwives had failed us, that this is how the Universe rolls, and that it had just rolled right over us squashing us to nothingness and drowning us in tears.

But when Zeph was born, everything began to change in that parallel world.  Instead of feeling split in two, divided equally between the what-is and what-should, I had to focus strongly on the life in front of me.  Silas as his three year old older brother was harder to see than the baby we never had, and now the baby we did.  As Zeph grew day by day and the fantasy vision of Silas's life was shattered on the shrieks and laughter of an actual baby, I felt that other way slowly fade and dissolve, merging into the single path we now tread.

It is a relief to be whole, even with the hole.  Living halfway in a hope that could never be was maddening and exhausting.  Silas is gone.  Zeph is here.  In order for Zephyr to have the joyful life I want him to have, the only thing I can do is to be here with him, all the time.

But that other life is in me, still.  Still I grieve.  Still.


What do your parallel worlds look like?  How much time do you spend there?  Is there a certain time of day or part of your life where you feel the life you never had more strongly? How do you reconcile what you wanted with what you have?

Scars of the Heart

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?