“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
― Charles Bukowski,
Master Life Lesson
There is a Japanese artform where valuable objects are repaired using “glue” mixed with gold.
The haunting beauty of the work can be startling. Usually, a chosen piece was exceptional before it was broken, but now the character of the brokenness shines through in its recovered condition.
These types of scars on people are harder to detect, but I have experienced it in a conversation as a depth of understanding. Writing has become the avenue to purge my soul of darkness, and a clear example of the steps I have taken in the Kintsugi tradition.
Build a Bomb Shelter
Want to understand a key life hack?
How long will this take? It’s hard to say – for me, it’s been time-consuming, but hopefully you can use this experience to dramatically shorten this stage.
Have you ever just randomly browsed through your notes on your phone? I’ve got a collection of notes that go back to 2012. As I was scrolling, not really looking for anything in particular – I saw “Koa.”
Koa and Noah.
Those were the names of the twins Calissa and I lost a couple of years ago.
Hunter and Sawyer have filled that spot left behind by the tragedy and allowed us to bounce back, but even now we don’t talk about it much.
That period was difficult for us as a couple, and especially hard to feel anything. The only way it’s been possible to move forward and forget the dark days in the hospital is to have two active boys in the house.
The old message caught me off guard. It was a sparse and clear record of the day:
The Time Capsule
At the front of the Golf and Country Club where I work, there is a huge solid rock with the club logo on it. It would take some major equipment to shift it out of place and no human could possibly make it budge.
Buried securely beneath this stone is a time capsule, unfortunately, I never got to see the original ceremony so I can only imagine what it contains.
How does this relate?
The next note was a “time capsule” message of encouragement to myself:
The note never referred to death, only life.
There is an expression out there that a parent should never have to bury their child. I really didn’t even get to be a father, nor did my son ever have a moment to be a son, except in his mother’s womb.
There were many ultrasound appointments that had made the experience real, but as a new father, I was already in shock.
When Calissa delivered him unexpectedly, he had already passed by the time I got to see him.
Holding my first born child was a bittersweet experience: Koa was so small that I could fit his tiny body in the palm of my hand. He had perfectly formed fingers, nails, and toes.
It was surreal.
I felt a tenderness combined with loss and shock and questions flooded my mind. How was I supposed to be strong, support Calissa, and process this emotional roller coaster?
She was still in a lot of trouble and my gut told me we were going to lose Noah as well.
The worst of it was still to come.
Prior to the miscarriage, I had shared about our twins in a newsletter written to the club. This was a normal monthly newsletter, but occasionally I insert a more personal slant.
The “curling twins” graphic had been created for this newsletter and was a prominent image that attracted tons of attention. After the twins passed and I returned to work I wasn’t prepared for a funeral procession.
It wasn’t curling season yet, but it was impossible to avoid bumping into everyone that I had written the article for.
As awkward as it was, I will admit there is nothing like the feeling of support from the people I have served at the club. Since that dreadful summer, time has healed up the wounds.
Shift The Balance
Life is fluid.
In order to sail at an even keel, I’m learning that my mindset must be flexible in order to balance myself. I don’t think a miscarriage can be characterized as a “lesson learned”, however, I took it as a message sent deep within.
Life is precious and unexpected tragedies happen.
How did I prepare?
There is a tradition that until the second trimester it is recommended that ONLY your closest friends and immediate family be informed of the pregnancy.
My wife knew this and I didn’t agree.
In hindsight, the tradition is an insurance policy if tragedy strikes. How can words really protect you? The bottom line is that it keeps the damage contained like one of those heroic idiots in the movies that jump on a grenade to save their comrades in arms.
Those that care will express their condolences, and although their hearts are in the right place, it is hard reliving and rehashing those feelings over and over.
To protect themselves some couples keep it to themselves, so if disaster strikes they bear the brunt alone. The downside is if you don’t share your discovery, you also don’t get to express your joy.
Others can and do wish to share intimacy with you. It is still my belief that it’s best to spread this ungodly pile of grief around.
That’s the most important thing a friend can do.