Where The Fire Began

4 Jun

Last night I dreamed of a fire. I don’t remember everything about the context, but I was outdoors and it seemed to be a fire that sprang up quickly. And it’s hard to say how, but I knew it was a fire covering the whole world.

People were running, shouting “This is it! This is the end!” And a sort of Clint Howard-looking guy pointed to a very specific spot near a tree line that was consumed in flames and said “There! That’s where the fire began, so that’s where it’ll burn out first! It’s our only chance! Go to where the fire began!”

And, listen, I’m the last guy to pull faux-inspirational instruction out of dream logic, but today is a day for trying to make sense out of the senseless, so I guess I’ll follow Clint’s advice.

Today is my boys’ second birthday.

Honest, it was never my intention to turn this blog into an annual affair, but that’s sort of how it worked out. I was interviewed for a documentary project about triplets a couple of months ago and the interviewer asked if I regret writing this blog, what with how things ended and all.  I told him no, I really don’t, because it’s the best chronicle I have of what it was like to anticipate them, to meet them and lose them.  It’s the piece of my sons that’s still out in the world, meeting new people from time to time and occasionally peeping their heads out on page five of a Google search or wedged between pictures of other babies on a Facebook news feed.

In the early days of grief, I spent a lot of time wondering how Future Me would feel about all of this.  Painful as it was, one of my biggest fears was that the pain would go away.  It makes sense, I suppose.  Pain defined my short time with them and if that disappears, well, does that mean they go away too?

But pain is still there.  I have more of a choice than I used to, I guess, about when and how I access it.  I’m of an age where my friends tend to be wrapping up their baby-having and are focused more on child-raising and it’s inevitable: there are lots of stories.  From potty training to homework trouble, there’s an inexhaustible stream of precious moments and with every story, I’m making choices.  Other grieving parents will know what I mean.  We make choices about how deep to let it cut us, whether we’ll be happy for you or bitter for us.  The thing is, by and large, we want you to have your good life and your beautiful children. For the most part, it makes us glad to see things going well, particularly if you love your kids and you’re doing your best to do right by them.  But understand that “happy-for-you” is sometimes a choice and it’s not always a natural one.

Anyhow, that’s a digression.  If today’s theme is Going To Where The Fire Began, it’s easy to see that the fire began in our little hospital room.

A year ago today we made the mistake of… eh.  We made the choice, put it that way, of visiting the hospital to bring hellos and flowers to some of the staff that had helped us in our darkest time. And I guess it sort of caught us by surprise because, after an absent left turn or two we realized we were standing right outside of our old room.

And like a wrecking ball, it came back, too much, all at once.

I’m guilty of romanticizing our small hours with our boys when the truth is it was the opposite of romantic. It was tears and confusion and hesitation.  It was pain and it was awkward fumbling with rushed eulogizing and shaky cell phone pictures, trying to figure out whether or not it was appropriate to wear a smile while posing.

And while the memories I have of our morning with our boys are maybe the most precious memories I have, I feel the need to be honest about it.  Truthfully, in those moments, more than anything, I remember wanting it to be over.

I wanted to be anywhere but there, doing anything but that.  I’m ashamed and embarrassed to say it because it’s so contrary to the sort of man I want to be, but looking at my wife’s anguish, watching Desmond and Oscar trying to grab air into their little pecan lungs that weren’t quite strong enough… I just wanted the pain to stop.  I knew I should be cherishing the time, but instead I wanted to be designing a web site or playing Angry Birds or driving to the grocery store.  I wanted to be at my boys’ memorial, remembering this time instead of right there, right then, actually living it.

I wanted no more pain for Carey, no more pain for Rudyard, Desmond or Oscar.  No more pain for me.

And now I look back at it and I hate how I remember feeling almost as much as I hate what happened.

Anyhow, that’s what I live with.  I wish it were prettier.  The fire began in other places too.  Our living room where Carey’s water broke.  Our room where the doctor gave us the odds.  In the bassinet where we said goodbye to them the morning following their birth.

But this year, two years into grief, if I’m grateful for something, it’s that the pain is still there.  It hurts because it should hurt.  And whatever stupid thing I felt in that little room in those moments, my pain today, right now, reminds me that I love them.

If you’re a reader of this blog and have been waiting a year for an update, thank you for your patience. Particularly if you’ve left a comment or offered love or encouragement to our family over the past couple of years, I can’t tell you what it means to us.  Our story is our boys and our boys is our story.  Following along with us makes all the difference.


19 Responses to “Where The Fire Began”

  1. pam June 4, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    I was thinking about Desmond, Rudyard, and Oscar, knowing their birthday was today. Wishing much peace and love to you and Carey today and always.

  2. Becki June 4, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Thinking about you both.

  3. Jon June 4, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    Powerful words.Your family is constantly in our thoughts and prayers.

  4. Stephanie June 4, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    You all come to my mind so often, and my heart, though thousands of miles and a lifetime away, breaks for you all over again. God be with you all, today and every day.

  5. lenarivers June 4, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    i hope you’ve been told over and over that you’re not alone, because you’re not. whether or not those feelings are good or bad, they have to be normal. or at least common. i’d settle for common, if i can’t have normal.

    as my mom was being diagnosed with cancer, i was meeting a man, getting engaged, and planning a move a thousand miles away from her. her cancer was aggressive, and she worsened quickly; and my relationship moved quickly. on a daily basis, i stood between overwhelming joy and panic. i didn’t want to be in the world of panic. i fantasized that if i avoided it, she wasn’t really that bad. my mom was slipping away so fast, and i – in my childhood mind – worried that it was because i wasn’t there and i wasn’t paying enough attention. my sister accepted the worst right from the beginning, and it made me so angry.

    i regret every day being so far away, for not giving in to her dying until she was gasping for her final breaths. i spent the last week with her in the hospital – wanting so badly to just go home and sleep, and then feeling really guilty and panicky when i did.

    why would anyone have any natural desires to live in that dark place where your world is falling apart and your heart is breaking? the point is that you did. you stayed. you experienced it. you were there for Carey and the boys. no one ever would have demanded that you *want* to be there. xoxo

  6. Danny Wright June 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Charity and I love you guys very much.

  7. Allison Wunderland (@FoodForEveryone) June 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    You’ve all been in my thoughts the last few days. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Matheny June 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    I love you brother. I appreciate your honesty and your heart. Thank you for allowing Johanna and I to be a part of your story.

  9. Becky June 4, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    What a beautiful strong man you’ve become. I’m not surprised at your honesty nor the depth of your grief. I’m not surprised at the sensitivity and grace that you bring this Earth and everyone who knows you because I’ve marveled at the beauty of your soul since the day you were born. I’m just so grateful that you are my son.
    Missing your precious little boys with you today.
    Love, mom

  10. Anon June 4, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    This might be strange, but I was at Grace on Sunday (I’m sort of new, just been going a few times) and after church I played the hilarious Life Group promo video on YouTube to show a friend. Later that evening, I clicked on the channel and saw the memorial video of your boys. I read your blog and my heart broke for you. It’s been sitting with me for the past two days and I have been continuously praying for strength for you and Carey. Blessings to your family.

  11. Erin Burtoft June 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    You have an amazing gift of allowing others right into your soul. I’m so sorry that you and Care have to go into the fire. I love you buddy.

  12. actualjenny June 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    Poignant, as always. I so appreciate your honesty and willingness to continue sharing Rudyard, Desmond and Oscar with us.

  13. Sharon Bear June 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    So much I wish it wasn’t you writing this blog – but what a Gift you are to those hurting hearts of others who have lost, and to those who want to help; relating feelings that few can recognize let alone express. You’re an amazing man, an awesome father, an incredible husband. Thank you for sharing your Self.

  14. Christy Rodriguez June 4, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    You, Carey, and your boys have been in my thoughts this past week. I’m not sure what to say, but know you guys are in my thoughts and prayers.

  15. Jen June 5, 2013 at 6:53 am #

    Beautifully written. It’s like you read my mind on feeling guilty for wanting it to be over. Please know that you both and your boys are in my thoughts on their second birthday. Please keep writing. You seem to be able to express your feeling in such a way that others can really relate.

  16. Noelle June 11, 2013 at 6:26 am #

    Two years ago I was a non-parent trying to grasp the pain you were experiencing. Now, after a scary birth experience and becoming a mother for the first time I’m a little bit closer to understanding—but understanding it is not a place I’ll ever really be able to reach.

    I guess what I mean to say is that, I haven’t forgotten them, these 3 small strangers. I am maybe more affected by their short little lives each passing year.

    Thanks for writing.

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