I don’t remember the date that Silas died. I remember that it was the first week of February and I remember it was a Thursday. I remember it was 12 days before his scheduled c-section date. I know the year, so I could easily look it up but I’m okay not remembering the exact date. That fact seems relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Then there’s also the small detail that he likely died the day before he was born so was that the day of his death? Or the day he was born still? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.
Born still. To me those words sound peaceful, in a way. Someone told me once that Silas died knowing only the very best part of his life; the part that most of us don’t remember. Swimming around, warm and secure in his mummy’s tummy; never knowing what it is to be cold, hungry, tired, hurt. I thought that was a lovely idea. The fact that there was tremendous grief and pain on the outside of his little world is not to be minimized, but it was something that he was not aware of. Silas only knew love; in the most basic, instinctual way.
I remember being so happy when I found out that B was pregnant. I was pregnant too, and our due dates were just a few days apart. I felt slightly guilty that I was so happy about her pregnancy because it was unexpected; the relationship just casual. But to me it was perfect! It was just like we’d imagined as little girls: we’d get pregnant at the exact same time and our kids will be the best of friends, just like us.
I remember the moment I found out that Silas had died. I’d been anxious all day. I knew B was going to the doctor and that she hadn’t felt the baby moving. I was worried. I hadn’t heard from her all day. I’d left messages. I’d told her to call me after her appointment. She should have called me hours ago. No word. I went about my day, trying to focus on other things. I went to my prenatal yoga class and with my phone nearby, tried not to think about the knot in my stomach.
My phone rang, I jumped up to get it. It was Mr. FamilyNature, “Hi honey. I talked to B … honey, Silas died.”
I remember crying, sitting down on the stairs, I was hyperventilating, I was hysterical. The instructor was rubbing my back, she was trying to help me calm down, slow my breathing down. After a few minutes I was able to settle down a bit. I tried to stand up but had to sit down again because I was dizzy. Mr. FN’s dad came to drive me home. Someone called my sister. She came and picked me up and we went to the hospital together.
I remember going to the hospital, walking down the hall to the room B was in. I remember a picture of a butterfly on her door. They were prepping B for a c-section.
I don’t remember walking into the room. I don’t remember what I said. I just remember crying. I remember thinking how strong B & L seemed. We weren’t there long before B and L went to the OR so that Silas could be delivered. We waited in B’s room.
I remember wondering whether or not we’d get to see Silas and being scared to see a dead baby. I was afraid. Did I want to see him? Would it be strange? How would I react?
B was wheeled back into the room with L following, carrying Silas. I saw him. I cried. I stood beside B’s bed. I remember crying; sobbing so hard and being so angry with myself for not being stronger for B.
As I stood there beside B, trying so hard to keep it together, but failing, I remember her reaching out and touching my arm. I remember this moment better than any other. I remember it so vividly and intensely I can almost feel her hand on my arm. I remember feeling guilty, then feeling stupid for feeling guilty, then feeling guilty all over again – because my oldest and dearest friend, in her darkest moment, in her moment of unimaginable grief, reached out to comfort me.
I remember looking at Silas and thinking that he was adorable. I’d been afraid to see him but as soon as I did I realized how silly that was. I don’t remember what Silas looked like. I remember him wrapped up in a blanket. I remember his little hat. I can’t remember his face but I remember that he was perfect and beautiful. I loved him. I am so glad that I got to see him. I was one of very few people who did.
I try not to live my life with regret. We all have things we’d do differently in retrospect, right? But I look at my life right now and know that I am where I am today because of the choices I’ve made. I have a pretty happy life. My life right now is a summary of my past experiences. Things, even bad things in my life, have made me better, wiser, stronger. I am aware of my flaws and I am also aware that they are related to my strengths. While I’m always thinking about self-improvement, I am also quite content with who I am. No regrets.
Well … mostly.
My one regret: I never held Silas. Why? Why didn’t I? I don’t know. I don’t remember. I wish I had.
I remember the night before the funeral, I was in bed and Mr. FN came and woke me up. He’d been writing Silas’ eulogy and came to me, overcome with grief. I read it and we cried. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever read. I remember him reading it at the funeral and feeling so proud. Many people found comfort in his words that day.
I remember that Silas was buried swaddled in a blanket that I had made for him.
I remember the gathering after the funeral. It was at our house. The house was so packed you could barely move around. I remember seeing B & L sitting together on the couch. They were at the front of the house; the couch was in front of the window. They were sitting there, B in L’s arms. I think these kinds of tragedies can tear people apart. I think they often do. But I saw the two of them sitting there and I remember thinking, no, I remember knowing, that they would be together forever.
I remember seeing B every single day in the week or so that followed Silas’ death and funeral. I was so worried. I remember calling her one day and blurting out, “Are you suicidal? Would you tell me if you were?” No. She wasn’t. She had a three year old to take care of and that was keeping her going.
I remember thinking, some time later, that I didn’t really consider L’s grief. I was so focused on my own grief, and worrying about B and how she was doing, I didn’t really think about how L was doing. Did I ever ask him how he was doing? Did I ever give him a hug? I don’t remember. I don’t think I was very supportive to him and I have felt a lot of guilt about this over the years.
About month after Silas died, my baby was born. I remember wanting so desperately for it to be a boy and it was. I remember B visiting us in the hospital and her holding my boy while wiping away tears.
I remember grieving on behalf of my baby boy, for the best friend he should have had but would never know.
After Silas died Mr. FN and I got really close to B & L. We’d always been close with B, but we didn’t know L that well. We started hanging out. Every weekend we’d take turns hosting each other for dinner. I remember being grateful (and still am) that L is our friend.
I think of Silas as both the best thing and the worst thing that happened to B & L. The worst thing, for obvious reasons. The best thing because he initiated a chain of events that would never have happened if he had lived. Silas brought the B & L together, in a way that would otherwise never have been. Silas brought L into our lives. And just less than one year after Silas died, he brought us little baby X, B & L’s second son.
I’ve had a hard time over the years reconciling these thoughts in my mind. I can’t ever be happy that Silas died, but I am happy about the events his death triggered. These thoughts have weighed, somewhat uncomfortably, on my mind. I am unbearable sad about Silas’ death. I am so wonderfully happy about B & L being together and being the couple they are; about having L as part of our family; and about baby X (now a big 8 years old!).
How do you make sense of it all? You don’t. You just don’t. Death is a curious thing. It’s so real and ever-present but we sneak around it like it’s not there. We whisper of people “passing on” and we talk quietly of “losing” people. We shield our children from it. We fear it.
My thoughts on the matter (and I don’t present them as facts, just my ideas; my way of coping, I suppose) are that you can’t sugar-coat death. There is no nice way to say it and I don’t think we should try. People die. It’s sad. My thoughts and feelings about Silas’ death don’t make sense because there is no sense to be made of such things. Death is not logical. I cannot, will not, ever understand the how and why of Silas’ death. I accept that. It has taken me a long time to come around to this but it is, for the time being, how I have come to terms with the most tragic thing I have ever experienced.
I remember Silas. Always.
Photo by Swamibu via flickr.