7.24.2018

unfurling

Witnessing the evolution of a bud becoming a flower is astonishing to me. I ponder how each petal knows exactly when to unfurl and how, opening within days of others of its kind in the garden. Rarely do I see a flower which isn't all-together perfect, unless, of course, it has suffered from drought or some pest gnawing on its flesh. Nature simply seems to know just when and what to do. In my awe of these gorgeous events, I feel a bittersweet regret, knowing what seems true for simple flowers—and for most kids—is not true for my boy. His brain did not unfurl like it was supposed to. Instead, its delicate white matter never fully bloomed, leaving it thin and therefore incapable of transmitting his brain's messages to his body quickly and smoothly and, perhaps in some cases, at all.

Fourteen years later, I still wonder what went wrong.

Did I eat too little, too much? Was my egg decrepit? Did I eat bad cheese? Were my pants too tight? Was it a botched amniocentesis? Was it that sip of beer or that spot of wine or that lump of tuna or cheese? Was it the woman with the cough who we’d sat next to on the plane? Did I get her virus? Did I fly too late? Was I just too old? Was it something in the water? The chlorine? Did I swim too hard, too far?

Alas, I'll never know. Doctors assured me it was nothing I did while pregnant, that it was simply a blip in his brain's development. In my life's mourning, I hold fast to their assertions and to my boy, my sweet and lovely flower of another kind whom I can still hold in my hand and clutch to my heart while watching the slow-motion of his unfurling.

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