My perfect person
The best human I've ever known
Last night, not long after falling asleep, my son's voice broke through my dreams. Mommy! Mommy! So rarely does he use those two syllables, and when he does, they tear at the corners of my heart. The last time I remember him saying, "Mommy! Mommy!" was the first time he came to visit me at the Walker Center after I'd been there a week. I'd just rounded the corner of a long hallway to see him standing at the other end, and when he saw me, he threw his arms out and started running toward me with that slightly loose hipped gait I'm so familiar with as a parent of a child with Down's syndrome. We could have been two lovers on a beach in a cheesy love story, running toward each other in that hallway, but there was nothing cheesy about our reunion. Our hearts are magnets for each other. It's a law of physics.
When I heard those words again last night, the surreal images of my dreams were vivid, but I recognized the reality of his voice, and called him to my bed.
Patter, patter, thud, thud, patter, patter, thud....scurry up and over and under the covers with Mom.
I cradled his head in the nook of one arm and traced an imaginary line from his temple to the nape of his neck with the fingertips of my other hand as we lay there in the dark, foreheads touching. "What's wrong, honey? Did you have a sad dream?" Sniff. Swallow. "It's okay. Mom's here. Everything's alright now. Shhh." Sniff. Sigh.
He reached up, pointed to his eye, and in the shadows I could see him tug at one lower lid. "Wook, Mom. I cwyin'."
"I know, baby. You had a sad dream, huh?" Sniff.
We lay like that for a while and when I thought he was drifting away, I turned to face the opposite direction. (I should get a Nobel Peace Prize for enduring my son's morning breath.) As I lay there, edging back toward sleep, I was once again caught in the all too familiar loop of agonizing yearning for something I've never had: insight to my son's thoughts, hopes and dreams. His expressive speech is the area I struggle with most. He can't tell me what he's feeling, or dreaming, or hoping, or wishing, and I want so much to know those things about him. After almost twenty years, you would think I'd be used to it. I'm not.
I was almost asleep again when I felt his square little hand brush my hair back from my cheek. His touch was as soft as his whisper. "Mom. Shhhh. Ess okay. Enna hospital. Shhhh. Andy take care of you, Mom. Ess okay. Shhhh."
His hand moved down my back to rest over where my left kidney is. "Inna take care of you, Mom. Shhhh. Ess okay."
It was all I could do to lie still and keep silent
I didn't get much sleep last night. Neither did he, but he doesn't know that I know that. I was too aware of whispering hands and dragon breath trying to assure me, even as I slept, that everything would be all right for me today, and on Monday, as well.
And I can't stop thinking about how much I learn by being silent.