Friday, December 27, 2013

The Silence in the Middle

There's a distinct quiet in the middle where Sam's voice used to be heard. Where Sammy would voice his opinion or lodge a complaint or request his turn is silent, a void unfilled by his sweet or sometimes cantankerous voice. There is the series of alarms for medicines now silenced and unnecessary after his death. I've erased them from my phone. There is the silence in the middle of the night where Sam's nighttime arguments would be fought in his dreams (ok, Solly sometimes picks up where Sam left off). 

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. 
Thanksgiving 2012
Sammy, 2007

17 comments:

  1. Holding y'all in my heart and in my prayers as you navigate this new silence, and as you continue to balance your own grief with your kids' different needs and different ways of processing this unthinkable reality.

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  2. Sending all of our love as you take one day at a time through this process of grieving.

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  3. Beautiful. I'm feeling blessed I've been allowed to partake in your family story of Sam. Bless you and your family, peace and love to you all.

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  4. I so wish we could all take your pain away. Sending love to you all this Shabbat and always.

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  5. Holding you all very close in my heart. xox

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  6. Beautiful. Thinking of and praying for each of you.

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  7. Hugs and prayers for all of you from the Cash family in Georgia.
    We hurt for you.

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  8. Sending you peace & prayers.. And thank you for allowing strangers and friends alike the honor to share your heartache. I can't begin to imagine the loss you all are feeling.

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  9. It's not fair. Not at all. (And thank you michael for sharing your feelings and words. Sometimes silence is the only response ---

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  10. I want to thank you..... So very much..... .. Every time I get frustrated with my three kids I read your blog and it truly recalibrates me and reminds me that they are kids...... And no matter how much they argue or annoy me it doesn't matter.... Your blog reminds me of what is really important...... Thank you....... May you have a peaceful 2014.....

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  11. thinking of you and sharing in your pain.

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  12. From what people say, those feelings never go away. They stay. You just learn to put them on a shelf, but sometimes they'll fall off and make a crash.

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  13. At least your own voice is not silent, and I treasure these messages. If I offend or misconstrue at any time, feel free to silence ME! For now, you are my "link" to Sam's voice, and I love to hear him, even without words.

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  14. The Sounds of Silence are the most powerful of all. The sounds of your Sammy. Your heartache of missing him makes my heart ache for you. I'm so grateful you shared this. Shavua tov to you and Michael.
    With love,
    Fran

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