The silence in the room could have cracked an anvil. Where there should have been pulsing sounds that represented life, hope, and happiness, there was only cold, dark, silence. I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t breathe. I was staring at the screen unable to comprehend what I was seeing. I was unable to interpret the sound of silence. It was then that I heard my wife say, “There’s no heart beat…”, in broken quiet voice. I turned to embrace her, as hot tears began to flow down her face. As healthcare providers, both of us had been around personal loss. We had helped guide others through the grief, anger, and acceptance of the loss of a loved one. Nothing had prepared us for the loss of our third child.
Just days before we had reveled his gender to our family through our boys shooting blue, paint filled balloons with their little long bows. Everyone was so excited about the addition of another baby boy to our family. Now we were sitting in the parking lot of the doctors office, holding each other and crying. For the next week, I didn’t have time to think about it much. I was busy getting the boys to school, homework done, and bathed and in the bed, all the while taking care of my wife who had, had surgery and lost a lot of blood. On top of that , she was deeply sad, and I didn’t know how to fix that. All we knew to do was to hold on to our faith, and hold on to one another. Although we were in pain, we understood that our baby never belonged to us, and that one day we would see him again.
I never cried in those first few weeks. I kept feeling like I should, but the tears never came. I had begun work on a bamboo backed hickory bow for the upcoming season. The physical work of shaping, sanding, and tillering my first bow helped occupy my mind. One afternoon, as I was working, I noticed my boys bows hanging on the wall. I thought about how far they had each come. How their forms were improving, and how they were able to hit those balloons filled with blue paint. In that moment, I realized that I would never get the chance to do that with my third son. Tears began to roll down my face, and for the first time I sobbed deeply.
Everyones reaction to loss is different. For me, it made me realize how thankful I was for what I did have. It caused me to feel the love I had for my family and friends, in a way I had never experienced before. It made me realize that I needed people. I needed human connection. I needed a group of people who would share with me in everything. I needed a “tribe”. I began to think about life in a different context. I saw for the first time, though I had heard it often over the years, that this grand experience we call life, was meant to be shared. All of it. The joy, the pain, the good, and the bad.
As I did the final sanding on my new bow, It occurred to me that every good bow needs a good name. I picked up the pen, and I carefully wrote, “Cohen”. I knew that he had a father in heaven that was watching over him now, but somehow, I thought by carrying that bow with his name on it, maybe i’d be sharing my adventures with him. Maybe instead of holding his little hand, as we walk through the forrest searching out wonderful adventures, I could hold onto to this long bow for now.