I notice the eyes first – the rapid blinking – when he is young. Before he can lift a spoon to his mouth. Before he can tell me he loves me with his cherub hands reaching for my neck. Before his first birthday. They blink quickly, fiercely, strangely. But I am new at this ; this clothing, this hair, this body that tells me I am more Mother then anything else right now. I am up at 5:30 because he cries and I am asleep when he stops, 16 hours later.
And then he grows up: he is suddenly three years old, he has words now and he strings them together. He tells he ‘loves me’ but it is only me who can hear it. He is still so young; his words only make sense to me. But we are one person now. He is mine and I am his and we read five books before bed. And he looks at me, sometimes angry and sometimes full of light, and I am exhausted, my face is pale and my pants have dirt on them from stomping in puddles together. He is mine and I am his. He is clean and I am not.
His eyes move more quickly now and I think to myself…They are not normal now. They blink like they did when he still slept in my arms but they are angry now – somehow on their own – they move rapidly from right to left and sometimes up and down.
I have found him on the carpet – he finds soft places to land when I cannot see him – lying on his back, his eyes scattered and his mouth moving like he is talking but no sound comes out. Not a word. He is present but he is not here in those brief moments. I stare at him for hours each day. I notice his hands, the way they sometimes operate when the rest of his body is silent, they are stiff, stuck.
I start to mourn before I am told because I already know. My sweet boy.