A year ago today, our son was born, and a year ago today, our son died.
The past 12 months have been an excruciating journey of self-reflection, healing, caring for ourselves and each other, learning to grieve, learning to remember, and learning that despite it all, life does go on. To look at myself one day and think about where I was a month prior, and know that I’ve changed in ways I thought were impossible then, has been a powerful and moving experience.
We’re doing ok. Days are harder than others, some conversations more difficult, and meeting people that just don’t know is a new experience. How do you tell someone something of this magnitude? For us, it’s an indelible part of our being. But, we work to respect and to know it, while not having it overtake us. It will not become us.
We’re doing ok.
I spoke to my brother a few weeks ago about how to properly commemorate an event like this. He said he has a reminder set up, but to what end? He’s at a loss for what to do here. So am I. How do you navigate these waters? How do you build the tools to deal with this? I’m not sure any of us know, which is only expected. These waters are dangerous and deep, full of monsters and oases, storms and eddies, and a placid, terrifying calm of silence that extends beyond the infinite horizon. To know these waters is to have been there, to be comfortable in what should never be. We know that those that love us do, and we know that those that support us continue to do so, in whatever ways they can.
We’re doing ok.
A few months after his birth, his death, we were out to dinner with my father. My brother and his wife were expecting their first child soon, and my dad mentioned it to the waiter.
Is this your first grandchild?
No, our second.
We’ve built a box in the shape of being parents, and have nothing with which to fill it. While it sits empty, still, it remains there, a vessel only parents can know, yawning wide, aching for moments never ours. I am a father. She is a mother.
But we’re doing ok.
We miss him, every day, in a way that wrenches our bodies and our souls. We love him, every day, in ways that still can bring joy mixed with our heartbreak. We are not ok, we will never be ok, this pain will not cease, and we can only push against it, to live with it beside us, instead of over us.
And we do. And we will, and we can, we have to, and it will never, and it will always, and it can only. There is nothing fair here; there is no balance to this weight, but it will always be with us, and grow us into the people we are today, the people we will be forever.
And we’re doing ok.