Where is the boy? Where did he go? Sometimes he is with me -- certain and complete. Happy and smiling. Running with wind on his bare shoulders, outstretched arms and muddy fingernails, his head rolling back in waves of laughter, his eyes closed and his mouth wet with drops of spring rain.
He is not here today. He is gray as if pillowcases of storm clouds are shaking out above him, his eyes squint with anger and his fists are curled, like unripe apples from branches.
I walk carefully -- my back holds onto tension like a heavy sponge and my throat is dry and sore. I want him back -- free of anxiety and anger. Free of autism.
But not today. He pulls away from me like the skin of an onion, translucent and vulnerable, falling to the ground. I keep close but some days it is impossible to put us back together and I hold on to what is left and what I can actually keep in my hands and feel with my fingers.
I haven’t looked at the baby book in a long time. It cradles memories like held breath, suspending time and pain for only so long, until I am dizzy and my lungs shatter. I wish it didn’t have to be this way. For him. And for us. I wish he could live without the diagnosis. It is a lot for such a small boy.
I watch his brother grow into a young man, strong and kind. He ties his shoes, packs his lunch, brushes his teeth, puts on his coat and smiles at me, his freckled hand waving to me as he runs to the bus stop. And Sean is near me, unable to put his shoes on correctly, unable to put his lunch in the backpack, unable to brush his teeth well, unable to zip his coat or to ride on a bus with his brother. There is only a mere 20 months between these boys and yet I feel the gap growing greater with each passing day. Their hands can no longer touch - the distance too great.
There is a picture of my boys, together in a moving box, laughing and falling into each other. It should make me happy but lately it doesn’t. I hastily tape my heart back together. Sometimes it breaks when I think of what we had then. We had hope and energy and love, bubbling like water from fountains, spilling with abundance. Did we know it at the time?
I try to remember that life is so much more than what I can even imagine. Sometimes it’s crucial to let go of the past and leave it behind in the photo albums that collect dust in the bookcase. And sometimes I need to remind myself that each day is full of new, budding moments and that I need to hold still and watch the future unfold, like a fresh flower, each petal unfurling into a silky, damp blossom holding out beautiful possibilities to the child playing alone in the fields.
Sam Smiles Project
3 months ago