“When we gather now there’s always someone missing, his absence as present as our presence, his silence as loud as our speech.”

–Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son

Vincent died two months ago today. Seems like forever. Feels like yesterday. I think about him all the time, but not often enough. I hate crying, but I wish there were more tears. It’s tough to keep busy, and even harder not to.

I’m functioning far too well. I should be inconsolable. I’m not especially looking for clarity, wisdom or perspective right now. I’d rather be a full-time grouch, sour and abrasive. Why am I not more devastated and immobilized, angry and bitter? Is this all the sorrow I can muster?  We buried him seven weeks ago. He’s not coming back.

So how many kids do you have, Dan Stringer?

I have two. Well, actually I have one, I mean two, depending how you count…

And how are you holding up after the death of your 18-month-old son, Dan Stringer?

Well, at least my other child hasn’t kicked the bucket yet. And how are you doing this fine morning?

I don’t always want to talk about Vincent, but I do. I don’t want to change the subject, but I do. I don’t want things to “normalize,” but I do. I don’t want the pain to stop, but I do. I don’t care what people think or how they attempt to theologize it, but I do. I don’t want people to freak out, but I do– kind of.

Moving forward has it’s merits, but I’d really prefer to stay right here. For now. Until I change my mind. Or not.

How can you help? Hit me with your best proverb, but don’t say a thing. Leave me alone, but fix me while you’re at it. Feel my pain, but don’t let it hurt you. Know my story, but keep it a secret. Be horrified in a composed way, concerned without asking questions. Show that you miss Vincent, but don’t worry about me. Think of him often, but turn off the spotlight. Consider me different so long as I blend in. Handle me with kid gloves. Treat me like I’m unbreakable. Understand me well. Don’t figure me out.

I hope my contradictions irritate you terribly. I hope they don’t bother you at all.

Do I want this loss to define me? Do I want to be known apart from it?

[See also Vincent’s CaringBridge page. Photo by Luminosity.]