While some of this silence adds a certain calm to our family, I feel it viscerally in my soul even if I can no longer hear the sounds I know aren't there.
For our three other children it is as if the silence has set them loose as satellites slightly orbiting each other at a greater distance now. At twelve, David is embracing his independence. He buries his head in books that transport him far away from all this. He cocoons himself in his bedroom watching season after season of his favorite television shows on his iPad. He had eight full years with Sam and knew him the longest amongst our kids. He remembers the most and feels the most but intersperses his own silence with playful requests to be tickled viciously in order to feel youthful joy within our familial sadness.
Yael is blossoming the most out from Sammy's shadow. Her voice has been heard (loud and clear from such a vocal baby) ever since she was born. But Sammy was louder. She learned from Sammy his battle cry of "that's not fair." He took up this cry from seeing perceived inequalities both above and below, sandwiched between David and Yael. Now, however, she uses the phrase less. She only has David to compare to and we do our best to remind her that there really is no "fair" ("especially without Sammy," whispered quietly in my mind, but never out loud).
And finally Solly, who has spent half of his life acclimating to living without Sammy all the time he was in the hospital. Solly has never been quiet. Solly is the most vocal over his needs and wants. I mean, he's a toddler. Doesn't the world spin entirely around his axis?
He has essentially been out of pre-school more than he has attended these last six weeks. He travelled to Israel and Orlando with us all and now is on winter break. Solly has never feared asking, yelling or screaming for what he wants. Of all the kids his voice often drove Sammy nuts, especially towards the end. Sammy couldn't believe how loud Solly was or how he usually got his way. In the end, Sammy loved Solly but had little patience for how Solly's own personal exhaustion manifested itself during our most recent trips. He showed this amidst the noise and chaos by ordering a last birthday present for Solly (with his own money) that he would never see arrive (Solly loved the viking helmet and How to Train Your Dragon two headed dragon immensely). Solly may never fully understand the silence that lives where he would have told stories to Sam.
After a death life moves on. We have three children who need our love, affection and attention constantly. They don't want to mourn quietly, sitting at home. Their grief is a more subtle entity in their lives than my grief as a parent. They want playdates, sleepovers, to go to the movies and trips to Target. They want noise. They fill the silence with their play, their laughter, their small arguments, their wants and their needs. They fill the silence with their living.
In life there is nothing wrong with silence. In a good relationship, sitting quietly is comfortable. In our home, mourning the loss of Sam, the silence is often the places where Sam would have been heard. There is a lot of love in the noise of our home that pushes the silence in the middle back. But the sounds of Sam that are missing still hurt my ears the most.