Knowledge is said to be power. What is this power, however? Is it the power to be able to relate to the topic of discussion? Is it the power to stand before those more ignorant than you and show them what they are missing? Is it more powerful to look into eyes filled with sorrow and say it is going to be okay because you have the knowledge of it?
Each of these questions are ones that I have asked myself in the past twenty-four hours. What I know and what I wish no one else to know are simple integers on a dial right now. What matters is how far I turn the dial to either side of the scale. I feel like this dial could contain every number imaginable, but I know that it only holds two; a zero and a question mark. I understand that a question mark is not a number, but it can be an integer in a calculation. The dial is the important part, not the numbers that are etched into it. Dial I speak of is the dial one turns after a loss of life. I had set this dial twice in my lifetime and hence the reason why my knowledge is power. I know what it means to go from zero to the question mark and back again. I know what it's like to keep the dial at zero. That is the knowledge that I have, and the power I feel is wrong to have.
However, in the larger image of the puzzle of life each of us, that holds knowledge like this must use it to help others. Recently, my friend lost his son a week after he was born. He sent me a text to let me know his son had died in his arms. He closed his text saying that he would need to talk to me because I was the only person who could understand what he was feeling. After I had read that text, I was in a state of shock because I could both understand what he meant and see the pain he and his wife were coming into. I have experienced this same pain, and it is a piece of knowledge that no one should ever know. The loss of a child is some of the worst pain in the world. I lost both my child and my wife in the same moment. Though my pain was twofold, the understanding I have for it is a single bit of information. I will get to what the information is later, but for now know that it is important.
I have done lots of healing work thanks to the facilitators and staff at White Raven Center in Anchorage Alaska. For close to nine years I have been going in to dig up the pain of my past so that the energy surrounding it can finally be set free. The healing is powerful, and it comes in waves. Reading the text from my friend I felt that I had a purpose and resolve in helping him and his wife. What I did not know is that several parts of me have never been given voice. These voices crying out in the dark long for the world to hear how much they have been hurting since we lost our child so many years ago. I have processed about my wife, but I guess I have never processed about my child, our child. So, as I sat at work at the end of the day I suddenly was overcome with the feeling of panic. I was standing in the hospital room watching at the doctors told me she was dead. Hearing her mother comment about both of them being dead. Understanding that what she meant. The sudden surge of rage and anger at a power that would do this to me, do this to us, do this to anyone. I lost everything right then, and I left my body for what would be a ten year period of suffering. My dial went from question mark to zero, and I pulled it off the handle resolved to leave it be.
I left work that day and could not help but start crying with the grief I held inside me. The grief of my loss and the grief for my friend’s loss.
There is a part of me that is a wolf and has always been a beast beating in my chest. At times of significant loss or pain, that wolf stands on a hill alone and howls into the wind. I howled as I drove home letting that wolf voice his grief to the world around him. That single call into the night to be remembered. That howl of a lone wolf who has lost his pack and now mourns their passing. As I drove, cried, and howled my feeling shifted. I was not howling for my child or myself; I was howling for my friends so that they would be acknowledged and remembered. Their grief is not something they will carry alone, and like this, the world needs to recognize them. I howled louder and deeper. I cried harder and let the tears flood my face. I did not hide my pain or my emotions from the world around me. I only let the wolf howl all the words that I could not say. The pain of never meeting my child. The pain of never being the father I wanted to be. Knowing that in all of the lives I have lived I have never sired children who survived. That the loss of a child is like a slap in the face of humanity. What good are we as the dominant species if we cannot care for our young. I let it all out, and I let it out without holding back. Those parts of me that long to see pups running through the woods alongside their father. Those parts of me that long to watch my son or daughter walk down the aisle. Those parts of me that long for a small voice to say, “Daddy, I love you.” Every one of those parts joined in the howl, and it shook my heart and my car. I let it all out and looked for what space I had made.
The space I cleared out is now filled with knowledge. The experience that I went through what I did with my wife and child so that I may walk others down their own paths of loss. I had no guide to show me the way back from the dark. I had no light dancing in the wind to keep pace with my steps. I loved my wife out of survival, and when she and our child lied dead on the table, I chose death. My dial went just past zero. My friends right now have their hands on that same dial, and my knowledge hopefully will be the power that gives them a reason to keep it off zero. A question mark may not seem any better than zero, but suck is the making of the lives we live. We never know what is coming. We are only here at this moment, and we can only hold space at this time.
I needed to write this all out to finish the cycle of pain that I was confined by. We can only do for ourselves those things that are necessary. I needed to feel my pain and realize how much I do want to be a father. I needed to see the pain of what it meant to lose a child I never met. I needed to feel the pain for myself so that I could know it is gone. This is the power of knowledge. Not the knowing, but the understanding of its lack of control over us. My friends will learn this as well, but for now, they can only know the now. I can only give them the space them need and hopefully get the out of the dark on their own.