the face

I sit here every night feeding Calvin his dinner as if I were alone, music sometimes playing in the background, or the news, or nothing. The house feels empty except for his grumblings, his screams, the swishing sound of his fingers and wrists incessantly rubbing against each other, the knocking of his knees. All of these are likely side effects from the moderately high doses of three powerful anticonvulsant drugs we must give Calvin in an effort to thwart his seizures; a miserable trade-off and one that isn't completely effective. Wearisome, sometimes all I can do is stare at his face and sulk.

I don’t know Calvin’s thoughts and he doesn’t know mine. Never will. What a strange kind of mother-child relationship to behold, one in which neither of us can get into the other in that profoundly intimate way. Couldn’t coax it out of him if I tried. He’s locked into his own little wordless world, and if it weren’t for his howls, giggles and ear-piercing shrieks it might seem as if his lips were sealed. At times I resent him simply for his speechlessness, though it is no fault of his own, nor anyone else's.

So I ask myself, what is this all for? It seems such a colossal waste at times. I spoon food into a face. The face is accepting or refuses. The face chews and whines and laughs like a lunatic and drools like crazy until its chin is chapped and red and sore. But the face is mild as if a moon, like butter and cream, like a pool of crystal blue water and at times I drown in that pool as it reflects my own tears of frustration and sorrow.

But then the face—Calvin’s face—looks into mine, not quite into my eyes but almost, and beckons me. I obey and little hands wrap around my neck as he presses his soft face into mine and giggles. And what would I do without his precious face rubbing against mine, his moist open-mouthed kiss, teeth resting on my nose or cheek? What would I do if that face disappeared? What would I do if I couldn’t smooth my hands over his warm tummy, couldn’t feel the hollow of his delicate armpits, couldn’t caress his little knotted bellybutton, couldn’t hold his form close to mine like mothers do?

I think I’d shatter into a million tiny pieces of flesh and brittle bone, like a mirror that’s been smashed reflecting little glinting images of me and of Calvin in a mosaic of heartache, suffering and joy. I'd be wrecked because this wordless boy of mine encompasses me unlike any presence I could know or imagine. Because Calvin, in his simple way, is the vessel into which I pour my entire heart and soul, gush my grief, loss and anger, into which I spill all of my dreams of what could have been. They’re kept safe behind the face and eyes of my wordless child. And Calvin does all of this unknowingly. There is no need for asking or telling. There is no need for forgiveness. He doesn’t know the meaning of the words, just keeps coming back with his most beautiful face that gives me more love no matter how hard it gets.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm relieved that you found the answer, Christy. I needed it too.