The one thing I know after a year of doing this is that emotions are tricky things… unplanned, unexpected moments of sadness happen. And no matter how I try to keep this in check and just go to work, go on with my day… some days are just crappy, they start crappy and go on from there… and it is probably natural to want to curl up and go back to bed, to refuse today to do the things… go through those motions… to just stay right here and roll over.
But I got up. I worked out. I showered. And now I am dressed and ready for work.
Today is very windy. Inside the house you can hear doors rattle with the howl of the wind outside. The house creaks, rattles, and taps as outside the wind chimes mix with what sounds like the rush of the ocean or some ancient traffic blowing through the pines. I sleep in the pre dawn, waiting for my alarm. But the wind swirls and plays on the trees and chimes and against the sides of the house.
Somehow this morning in that half sleep set of moments before the alarm goes off, I hear a bedroom door from downstairs and footsteps on the stairs… and then at the foot of my bed Ethan is saying, “Dad. Dad!” And when I wake up there is nothing but the wind. He is gone. He has been gone for fourteen months now.
And so I lay there awake. Wanting maybe to sleep to hear him say “dad” one more time. To open my eyes in that dream and see him standing there… to just keep him for one more moment. So I lay there… my wife sleeping. The cat holding my foot. Awake. And around me the wind plays percussion- patternless and dissonant. And for the moment my son is gone, again.
I’ve lost him. He is gone.
So I grab my laptop from the nightstand and check on FaceBook… on a forum. I look at the news. I go to the bathroom. I get on the eliptical. I watch yesterday’s episode of Jon Stewart. And I think about Ethan… about him walking up stairs and waking me up. I think about the wind. I think about writing this. About how to put this emotion somewhere, so I can leave my house. Be a teacher. Do a good job with the Bill of Rights… with Robber Barons and the Cold War. And then pick up dinner and meet Marquita and go on to Karate.
When I feel like going back to bed and finding that moment… when I was Ethan’s dad again. And he was waking me because he needed me. To hear it. To hear his voice. To see him standing there. A hug? A conversation? Something. If I could just stay here at home in the wind and go back to bed, could I find my way back to that moment?
It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t expected. And here it is again… loss. Grief.
And this strange expectation from society that to be productive, I have to get in that car and drive to the school and teach and I can’t probe that twilight dawn for the son I have lost. I can’t have that moment or hold on to it. I have to put it away and go on.