on the benefits of a lego neptune sub and other matters of life and death
HEY YOU GUYS. Sometimes I'm sad about Liam. But I really wish we could go to Thomas and Oliver's house because I could bring my knights and we could play knights cause they have A REALLY COOL CASTLE. And I can yell up to the sky like this: AAAAAAAAAAA! ...to Liam. So he can hear. Can we get him down again? WAIT. I know how. I will go to Atlantis in my LEGO NEPTUNE SUB and I will unlock the secret key and then I will travel up into the sky and I will bring him back down again. After I fight the giant squid. I will bring him back here after I get the giant squid with my laser. I will bring Liam TO THE EARTH. So I can talk to him. Okay. Good.
I shrink from 'dead' because death is not the extent of my son. It's too small a word. It’s just something that happened to him. And so I don't tend to pass it on, trying instead, feebly, to plant seeds that open possibilities rather than closing them. It’s not that Evan doesn’t know that Liam died. He does. But 'he died' is not an answer. 'He died' is only more questions.
On sad days I've broached our history, afraid of what I might incite. I've feared indulging my grief at his expense. And so I've only asked this twice in as many years, and in a strange, hesitant mumble.
Do you remember Liam?
You had another brother.
He was only two. The NICU had little to offer for tasmanian devils and steam engines. And so we always said When he's ready which is parental code for I don't know how to go there yet. And so it was randomly, through bedtime gloom, Ben already purring softly in sleep, when Evan proposed the Atlantis route, and when we settled on our answer.
Where did he go?
Not for gates strung with righteous pearls, but for one of nature's most plentiful and accessible sights. Stars, sapphire blue, wind that drags fingers through trees. Clouds of February, plain and grey.
Are clouds hard? How can he walk around up there?
I don't know. How do you think?
He must be really light.
He is a river and the eel that slips through it. He is an eagle and a mouse. He is not afraid. He is united, all together, safe. He is not in that plastic box anymore. He is elsewhere, and nowhere, and everywhere.
There's all that, or there's just Look up.