April 6, 2018

When I got home from work this evening my daughter was in the kitchen baking and though this is fairly normal, what I found strange was that she had a blanket hanging on the handle of the oven covering the oven window so no one could see what was baking. I did not think much of as she said, “It’s a surprise.” I thought she meant the surprise of what kind of baked item, not what the surprise was for. I decided not to pry and instead go about my business. Not thinking much of it I left my daughter to work and I decided to plop down on the couch and watch some recorded TV shows in the living room to relax. We have been pretty stressed about moving into our new house at the end of April.

Every so often as the activity of our main living area filled with commotion of clambering things and people, I could see my daughter still very focussed on her baking. I could see her icing a cake. I stopped by every now and again to see the progress. I saw two layers and a little bit of her frustration as she applied the icing and I could read on her face that perhaps the cake itself did not turn out as perfectly as she had hoped. I could also see on the edges that the cake stuck to the sides of the pan and had some gashes. She was frantically trying to smooth those over with icing.

Still oblivious to what was going on, I stood nearby and she clued me in what the cake was for. Today would be Caleb’s 5th birthday. For a moment when she told me I let that sink in as I stared into the air like a deer in the headlights. Neurons started to fire in my brain. I started to think and feel and I thought to myself, “There is no way I can do this. I can’t do this. I can’t sing to Caleb. He’s not 5. He will never be 5 and he’s not here.”

I could feel a little bit of emotion brewing so I retreated to my bedroom and closed the door. Here I am writing this blog in real time to process what just happened to me. I’ve gotten so good at ignoring the emotions associated with my sons death that I forgot what it was like to feel that zing of pain and reality. Having a new son and chaos all around me on a regular basis has allowed me to generally suppress and hide my emotions in regards to my sons death.

As time has passed the control of my son’s death over my emotions has gotten less and less. I think this is a good thing overall but now leaves me evaluating what’s really going on. Over time I have learned to turn off my motions and in a sense I have become quite numb to what is real. Suppressing my emotions and just existing.

Here I am in a very controlled environment when it comes to these matters that I’ve found myself blindsided. I knew it was my son’s birthday and the week or so before this my wife had us take a family photo whereby the photo was just our silhouettes with Caleb inserted with Photoshop. She did her big reveal on Facebook today and she was very excited to share it.

I on the other hand am very numb. I did not have any particular emotion about today. I woke up today like any other day. I went to work and did not have many thoughts about the significance of what this day was because I’ve gotten so numb. I’m realising that not much has changed in that all of the hurt and pain is still there but it’s just deeper down. I miss my son and the fact that he would be 5 today is hard to fathom. To me he is just 18 months old and stuck there for eternity.

Even now as I write this I’m not even sure about the cake and the intentions my daughter has. I really have a feeling she will want us all to sing happy birthday and I’m not sure how to handle that. I’m realising I am still a bit bitter and perhaps angry my son is not here with us. Losing a child is not something I ever prepared for and I’m convinced it isn’t something you can prepare for and there isn’t a rule book of how to properly process such a tragic event.

I’m not sure I am ready to sing happy birthday. I’m not sure I can handle it right now. It’s a curveball. I know one Christmas we made Jesus a cake and sang happy birthday to Jesus but this to me is way different. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this one. I know I will get through it I just don’t want to feel what I know I will feel. It seems easier to be numb but that is no way to live. I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.

I guess it’s time to face this one head on and see what happens. I just don’t want to get caught up in fairytales of what could have been and what Caleb might be like today if he were here because the reality is much different. I guess everyone grieves in different ways. It means a lot to my daughter to make that cake as she misses her little brother and for my wife to take the family photo as silhouettes. I don’t want to take that process from them I’m just not sure if I am ready to participate in a birthday that will never be.

I’m still learning and grieving. This process is just that. Uncharted territory. I feel like I’m in a boat with a ripped sail and a rutter that’s pointing me in the wrong direction and I can’t see land. Drifting wherever the sea takes me. I think I know what I want and I just can’t have it. Reality and my own anger are about to beach me on a deserted island. The problem is, there is no escape. Even on an island alone where I think I might be safe, I’m still stuck with my thoughts and reality.

It’s time I mend the sail and set course for dry ground wherever that may be. It’s just not an easy path to take and the I don’t have a map that I want to follow. Sometimes it easier to just exist and suppress and ignore the things that hurt me. I know this is not the best method as I write this I just don’t yet have the answers nor how to properly navigate the suffering that’s still there.  I know God is always knocking on the door to my heart. I just seem to keep adding more locks and that’s not a place I want to be.

I know I need to press into God and I usually end up there when I run myself into the ground trying to figure this out on my own. I guess it’s just a big circle and it all leads back to God. I get mad though sometimes because I don’t understand. I want to find another way where I get my own way. I think what it comes down to is I might be the one living in a fairytale. The lie that it can be some other way and all I have to do is keep lying to myself and supressing my feelings. I just need to let go and let God do his thing. Work on my heart and accept that he will see me through. It’s time to ponder some more and set my course. Time to wake up and go see what that cake might bring.

I did not proof read this so if you would be so kind as not to judge me for any mistakes in grammar and spelling :)

Author: Andrew Dubas - andrew@dubas.org