I write but don’t hit publish as much as I once did. Here is a story from last week…
My fingers grasp the knife, the cold meat slick with fat slides under the blade. Lucy, my sweet black cat circles my feet, chirping and purring, hoping I will drop her a scrap. The dog softly whines, a spindle of drool hangs an inch from the floor. The house is quiet. I am alone (a rarity with a husband who works from home) save the pets who will attack this hunk of meat if I step away from the counter for three seconds.
My eyes scan the recipe as my heart remembers the feeling, the sights, the energy in that room last night. Images flicker in my consciousness. My son. Who opened up in a way I so rarely witness. I slice and feel the not only everything in the present, but everything from the night before.
I had been watching a dog rescue video from Hope for Paws as the Roc brushed his teeth in the bathroom five feet away. He walked in and wanted to see. I let him watch, and his face promptly crumbled as he took in the dirty, terrified dog. He asked me questions and I answered them honestly. Tears started to slide down his cheeks and he was overwhelmed.
By big, deep feelings.
“What happened to that dog? Why does it look like that? Oh no…. I think I feel bad. I think I’m going to cry,” he said as he moved to the floor by the door.
His breath came in ragged gasps as he folded his arms across his chest, pulled his knees up, ducked his head. Hiding. Full of big emotions. He pulled the door against himself as he pressed back into the corner.
He hid and I coaxed him out.
“I’m here. I’m here. I’ll always be here.” My own eyes filled with tears as I listened to his breath catch. He was showing a side I so rarely see. A side I know is there. Feelings I know are there. Sadness, despair, empathy. Yes, empathy. I lowered the volume on my laptop and slide onto the floor.
“Please come out. I’m right here. Come talk to me.”
He raised his tear stained face and I saw him. Really saw him. Red cheeks. Glistening blue eyes filled with sorrow. So often his true feelings are not seen on the outside. I have always known everything was there. Nothing missing. But he doesn’t act the way people expect him too. Often his reactions to others emotions and his often his own seem completely inappropriate. But I know he feels everything. Even if his face doesn’t match what’s going on inside.
My heart cracked open watching him process what he saw in the video and how it made him feel.
He came out from behind the door and received my hug. We watched a couple more dog rescues. He cried some more. I held him in my lap, marveled at how long his body is getting. He doesn’t fit on my lap anymore. He sniffled and snuffled and had to leave the room when he was run over by his emotions. I worried that I went too far, that we watched for too long. That the pain and suffering he saw on the screen was too much for his heart.
I got him into bed and in the darkness I tried to unravel what he was thinking. I asked questions and waited. Waited some more while he tried to find the words to explain his thoughts.
About dogs and people. About cruelty and why some people are so mean. I could see in his face and feel in my bones that there was so much more he wanted to say. That he couldn’t access the words to tell me how he really felt.
Watching the wheels turn behind his eyes my mind was rusty, full of all the memories of those early diagnosis years when everything seemed insurmountable and I felt impotent. I used to ache to soothe him when he was a toddler. When the tears on his cheeks made him slap his eyes. When my arms and my words were not enough, when I didn’t know what to do.
Laying on the bed I held myself back and waited. Waited with eyes and knowledge only time could give me.
We are not where we once were.