What I Carry

I’m in a river that’s broken through a dam, a river full of furious energy, mindless and untamed. Moving in one direction, but going too fast. I’m not fighting, I’m not even trying to get a grip. I wouldn’t know what to grab on to. I can’t think about it. At this speed, I don’t think, I just navigate past the danger. But I don’t breathe, either.

I smashed my car (no one got hurt and it didn’t get totaled). I spilled water on my computer, dropped my cellphone in the toilet. On a whim I looked online for an apartment and found one. But there’s the matter of the lease I signed for the place where I’m living, which means (so I’m told) I’m responsible for the remaining 8 months’ rent (read: $12,000). But there’s also the horrid brown water coming out my faucets and the refusal of the people responsible to respond to it. To me. That, along with several other issues, might help to break my lease, especially since my friend Cindy put her formidable lawyer shoes on and contacted the Property Manager.

And for whatever reason, I am beginning to understand what it means to “carry Philip’s spirit” into the world. I hate the phrase – it reeks of desperation and I’ve never understood what it meant. How could I? I am grieved and mourning and when I’m alone I can’t help but to just be. Whatever that is. I’ve not hidden how I felt since Philip died. Early on, I’d tell anyone and everyone. Salespeople, cashiers, the gas attendant; someone help me, please help me. I needed kindness. I needed to feel contact, which was impossible. I couldn’t make some effort to carry Philip’s spirit into the world. What I was carrying was crushing me as it was.

Two years and nine months later there’s been a shift. What I carry now, along with my sorrow, is Philip. Like when I was pregnant. For the first three months the only people that knew I was pregnant were my brother-and-sister-in-law and my parents. I said, as many do, that there was most chance of miscarriage during the first three months. I didn’t want to share the joy of pregnancy with anyone who I wouldn’t also want to share the anguish of a miscarriage with. But that wasn’t the all of it. It wasn’t even most of it. What I wanted was quiet time with my son. It would be a rare and short time that I didn’t have to share him with the world. He would always be part of me psychically, mentally, emotionally – but this was the only time he’d be part of me physically. He was my secret joy, he was love in a way I hadn’t known it. Once everyone knew it would be both a celebration and an intrusion.

And so it is now, in reverse. When Philip first died, I couldn’t stop telling people. Now I’m mostly quiet. It hurts. Not always, but often. It was after Philip came into the world that I wanted to share him. This is my son, I would say. Now I can’t, not in the same way. The other night someone asked how many children I had. I have two, I said; but my son died. “I shouldn’t have asked,” the woman said. “Of course you should have,” I answered. “It’s just that death is hard to talk about.” An invitation, for sure – but not one that was answered.

My relationship with Philip is constant and private. He’s too much a part of me to ever be gone. I know this – at least when grief doesn’t overwhelm. And as far as his spirit – I am kinder, more friendly. I am curious about people. I’m not so afraid of them any more. That is Philip, with his grace and ease. “Mom, I like my life” he once said, with a sincerity that stung because I could not say the same. To live with him guiding me is to live gently, is to let life be. And then things happen, then I meet the right people, without even trying.

Like this.

When I’d decided to look online for apartments, I sent emails to different realtors, who emailed back wanting to make appointments. I chose M. M. showed me two apartments that I really liked, one of which I wanted to live in. When I realized I couldn’t just break my lease, I started to flip. Not as bad as last year, which I wrote about here. And M. is one of the reasons for that. Besides her calm and her humor, she’s smart. When I realized I was most likely going to lose the apartment, I started babbling to her about last year and how hard it was and everything was too expensive and no one would take my dogs and she interrupted with, “Okay. But it’s not last year. It’s now.” When I cried because I had to turn that apartment down, she sent me a link to the Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” When I called her up to tell her the various scenarios that could take place if I could break my lease in two months or four months or not at all, she said, “But we can only deal with reality. Reality is now. And now you have a lease and you’re starting the process to see if you can get out of it early. That’s what we have to work with.”

And really, it’s no surprise. It’s no surprise I chose the Realtor who’d say the things to me that I should be saying to myself. It’s no surprise that as I was driving and thinking Philip is the face of love is the face of love I passed police van #201, then got cut off by a car whose license plate had Philip’s initials. Yet much as I can rattle off the hundreds of times he’s let me know he’s around, I still spend so much of my down-time under the covers, waiting. Just waiting. Philip is asking me to live differently. He is offering me things to think about. He is suggesting that maybe I can try – just a little – to walk in the world the way it is, instead of being seduced by the misery of the underworld. He is asking me to have some faith.

I am grateful for what I have with Philip. That the bond we had in life is even clearer in his death. That he’s teaching me life isn’t what I thought it was, and neither is death. But my God –  I miss him, I miss him, I miss him and there is something too terrible about his death to bear.

But let me share some joy. Here is Nikki, five months old:

Nikki, five months old

© 2014 Denise Smyth

Advertisements

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maria Danielle Casinelli
    Nov 19, 2014 @ 21:42:42

    Thanks!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply

  2. Lucia Maya
    Nov 20, 2014 @ 00:05:19

    love love love this. same for me, and different, and i love that i can relate to so much of what you say. and amazing that our children are so wise and such incredible teachers, in life and death. love to you.

    Reply

  3. Geves Lafosse - (contact at geveslafosse@yahoo.co.uk)
    Nov 20, 2014 @ 01:20:14

    This is so powerful, a torrent of love and feeling for your son. I recognise so much of what you say, in the secret carrying of your child and the signs. Wishing you some gentler days and luck with the apartment.

    Reply

    • Denise
      Nov 20, 2014 @ 05:40:40

      I loved being pregnant – and the way I had a relationship with my son before he was born is the way I have a relationship with him in his death. And I hope one day the force of that is at least a little stronger than the grief.

      Thank you, Geves – you’ve grace and strength in what you bear, and that, my friend, is your power.

      Reply

  4. jmgoyder
    Nov 20, 2014 @ 03:20:57

    Denise you are so amazing and so is your blog. Breathe … sending love.

    Reply

  5. lensgirl53
    Nov 20, 2014 @ 09:35:11

    ~ “I am grateful for what I have with Philip. That the bond we had in life is even clearer in his death. That he’s teaching me life isn’t what I thought it was, and neither is death. But my God – I miss him, I miss him, I miss him and there is something too terrible about his death to bear.” ~

    I feel this way, too, about my Brandon. Your feelings echo my own and so many other parents who have loved and lost. Sending my love and special Brandon bear hugs to keep you warm and give you comfort. xo

    Reply

  6. Denise
    Nov 20, 2014 @ 10:57:57

    I love when you say “Brandon bear hugs.” I ache to hug Philip…but how comforting the thought of a “bear hug.”

    So much love to you Dale – your kindness always, always touches.

    Reply

  7. Personal Trainer Lady Putney
    Nov 26, 2014 @ 08:33:38

    Aw, your cat is super adorable!

    Reply

  8. Unconfirmed Bachelorette
    Jan 19, 2015 @ 00:35:08

    Joy indeed. So fluffy! What a beautiful girl.

    Reply

  9. Denise
    Jan 19, 2015 @ 12:14:51

    Oh, I do adore her – thank you!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: