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Longing, Observed

February 16, 2009

I thought I could be oblivious, but that was naive. I thought that I’d hit ‘reset’ when this newest child came, but that was overly optimistic. Instead– in an almost insidious way– the space left by the birth of a relatively healthy child is getting back-filled by the memories of the birth and early life of our twins. Where I should be enjoying the freedoms of this new version of fatherhood, I’m spinning gears remembering our blue son and our yellow daughter the last time around. I’m suddenly in shock at all we were facing last time around, mired in guilt over my lack of concern then for our daughter’s huge health concerns then. Bothered by the psyhic distance I kept between my newborn kids then, I’m nevertheless distancing myself from our newest child now. And perhaps the worst thing is that I’m afraid to talk about it for fear of being accused of borrowing trouble.

After we visited the Pediatrician last week to have Lucia’s weight checked (she had already surpassed her birth weight, to her doctor’s delight), we stopped by to see our old social worker from the days of our son’s hospitalization for cardiac surgery. We talked about post-traumatic stress, and adrenaline addiction (I’m feeling anxiously understimulated as I only deal with sleep deprivation, burping, diapering, and managing the interface between a 2-week-old and a 2-year-old in a small apartment). She confirmed some of my self-reflective theories, and talked for awhile about how natural it is to miss our Will during all of the notable events of life– about how birthdays and holidays are heavy times for families who have lost a child. And as she was talking about this, I nodded and gave a kind of silent ascent, but thought to myself, “This is undoubtedly good counsel for most families, but I’m not still in that place. This is something different: this is me moving forward, not me looking back.”

But then tonight I was running some errands, listening to Radiohead’s In Rainbows. I was thinking about the day I bought it: probably my happiest and saddest day of last year. It was the day we held Ella’s birthday party, which was an overwhelmingly joyful morning of goodness. Oh, sure, the skies were gloomy, but the collection of friends and family created its own heat and light (and the cake was delicious). From there, I went directly to another great occasion– the graduation party for a dear friend. It too was a place of mirth and celebration… until yet another parent said something about how worried new parents get about their kids not breathing in their cribs at night. And though the party continued, I knew my day was over. I milled around for a few more minutes, then said goodbye and thanked the hosts and trudged out to the car. For some reason, I robotically drove to Best Buy, where I bought the aforementioned album, a collection of somber and uplifting tunes that has become a favorite in the time since.

I thought about all of this in the car tonight as ‘Reckoner’ played, and I realized that I miss my son. It is the most obvious thing in the world– Hack Psychology 101– but there it is. My life is better than ever, and yet here I sit in the middle of a room packed tight with wonderful blessings, missing my Will.

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6 Responses to “Longing, Observed”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Besides remembering familiar songs, you are likely catching familiar whiffs of smells – our strongest memories. I say ‘embraces these memories.’ I was just telling Yvonne the other day that I don’t remember my Mom’s smell anymore. Sad, indeed. Embrace these memories, they make up who we are.
    Tom D.M.

  2. Lisa says:

    We’ve been sick and I’m behind on my blog reading! First of all, Congratulations on beautiful Lucia! It seems natural to revisit the difficulties of Ella and Will’s early life. My prayers are with you two! May you be able to hold both the joy and the sorrow in turn. Love you both,

    Lisa and Mark

  3. chills man. what silly things can come from one’s mouth (including my own) that can ruin a day, a week, a month. But it’s the longing and memory that lasts a lifetime.

  4. Hey, just to clarify my unclear words: I didn’t, and don’t blame this friend of mine who talked about her anxiety about her son’s breathing. She didn’t know my story, and I don’t hold that against her, not for a second. It was just an innocent comment that she made on a heavy day for me… it didn’t ruin my day, but only typified the intensity of my feelings on that day.

  5. Ken Tennyson says:

    Mike, it is surprisingly hard to attach to a newborn, I have struggled with both Kieran and now Tristan. Also, especially this time around, I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about death (obsessing?) leading up to and following the birth of Tristan. So I guess I am saying that I understand your dilemma when a happy advent seems bitter sweet (though I don’t pretend to understand your loss of Will).

    Thinking of you guys today, I know this is tough going with many demands on your time as well as your heart.

  6. Lora says:

    of course you miss your Will.

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