Today would have been your second birthday, and the last day we took your elephant photos. I cannot believe you have been gone for so long. Time seems to move both more quickly and more slowly since you died. The weeks leading up to your birthday this year have been really hard. I find myself struggling more with a combination of anger and sadness. I am less in touch with my sadness than I was last year, in which crying and physically aching for you were my constant companions. But I don’t miss you or think about you any less. The feelings nonetheless seem more distant somehow, or different, in a way I don’t fully know how to express. And so perhaps the anger and unfairness of it all is striking me more deeply this year, because I have allowed myself a small absence from it. On Tuesday, I was driving back from teaching, and planning to head straight to volunteering, when I became consumed by extreme anxiety. I cancelled my volunteer work and went straight home. Perhaps because it was a Tuesday, not unlike the Tuesday that I drove home from lecturing, in labor with you. The flash backs have been more constant again too, as I imagine the moment I found out your heart had stopped. Or I would think to myself, “two years ago, Sidney was alive…but maybe he was brain dead (I have no idea if this happened, since I don’t know what happened).” A constant gnawing in my stomach, a tightness in my chest, a desire for you.
Yesterday, I took a walk in the woods that I walked in rather frequently right after you died. It had been a long time. I listened to the sounds of the birds and the insects, stared at the trees that have been there for decades, perhaps even centuries, and remembered how those woods helped carry me, allowed me to see that I (and also you) are just a part of something bigger. I thought of all the people who walked along with me that first year, and how since Silas’ birth, I have resumed a ‘normal’ routine, and don’t have the support network that I clung to the first year after you died. So in addition to asking people to do something kind in your name, which I also did last year, I am going to try to reach out more to friends, reconnect with those who I care about. I have always been bad at keeping in touch with people (but good at picking up where we left off when I see them), but nowadays, it just seems like I go too long without seeing people–it’s been nearly five years since I have seen some of my so-called closest friends–and well worth some more effort on my part to maintain these relationships.
We went away for a night to the Chesapeake Bay. I thought getting away as a family would help me during your birthday. But as we sat in rush hour traffic with Silas screaming, my anxiety got worse and worse. Deep breathing. When we finally arrived, I took a walk with Silas by the water, the sound of the waves hitting the shore providing a short calm. Later today, we will go to your grave, say some prayers, and be as physically close to you as we can.
In some ways, it seems like another chapter is ending. We close on our new house on May 15th, and will move away from the home in which I lived during my pregnancy with you, which has sheltered me in my grief. Here, everyone knows our story. When we move, new neighborhood, and a new school for Eli, people won’t know about you, and I will have to decide again how to tell them. Filling out kindergarten registration forms, siblings and ages. Sidney, deceased. I will never be okay writing that. But leaving you off is not an option either.
A few weeks ago, Eli and I were driving home, and we saw an amazing twilight on one side, and a regular dark sky on the other. Eli suggested that maybe you sent us that twilight. I don’t know if that is true, but as Eli reasoned, if you are now part of everything, the sky, the butterflies, earth’s energy, than there is no real reason it also can’t be true.
So my dear boy, my heart breaks that I cannot hold you in my arms and watch you squeal with delight as you blow out your two candles. But we all love you so much. You are not forgotten. You will never be forgotten.
I love you.
Always and forever,