dark of the moon
We look at the street trees, still wearing their blue-white holiday lights. We listen for sleepy birds waking in the remaining redwoods.
He carefully steps over each crack or flaw in the sidewalks.
Since Christmas, with brief respites now and then during which he announces "I'm back" and returns to his normal sunny and interested self, he has been living in a world of pain and darkness and strange things that come and go and can't be expressed. Or shouldn't be expressed. He stares at empty corners. He speaks in whispers. He weeps and says that there are buildings falling and children hurting and that the world is so sad.
There seems little to say to that. You're right? or "Hey, look, the kitty is sleeping on his back, doesn't he look funny?"
The smiles of my son are fleeting.
So, when your son with Down Syndrome has gone through a number of times of clutching his heart and saying he is scared and that his heart is sick, broken, hurting...well, you take this seriously indeed and you haul him off to a doctor.
Our doctor happens to be a very pretty young woman with a wise soul, and this suits Gabe tremendously. And a few days ago we sat together in a little treatment room and chatted about...stuff. Anxiety. Hearts. Life. Tears filled the eyes of that young woman, as I told her about Gabe's worries. She said to him "it is sometimes a hard world, and these are sad times, and if you are a sensitive person--and you are--it does stay on your heart". Gabe nodded.
His heart is fine, and that was indeed a relief. So we talked about the other things--the wild sleep cycles, the strange things in corners, the anguish. That he believes his father is a bear. Now, I think that is very accurate, though the corollary that Gabe and I are, instead, wild wolves, takes some getting used to.
That unseen people talk with him--well, this too doesn't give me pause, because I've had my share of odd experiences.
Anxiety? Depression? Spiritual crisis? Breakthrough?
You know, I don't care about the labels. What I care about now, with my son having been awake for 36 straight hours weeping about the world and seeing things in corners, is that I seem so unable to comfort him.
At about 3 in the morning, as he looked at me, eyes wild, as though I were indeed a wolf come to eat him, and I backed away gently, saying as I would to a wild and hurt animal--"it's okay, I'm sitting here, it's okay, you are my dear son, you are human, I am human, let's turn on the lights" (and I did)...and he sighed as the lights illumined the scary corners...well, I tell you, my heart has been breaking.
And that's when he said "I love you, mom, and I love my papa, and I love my sister, and I love my brother, but it's too painful to think".
And you must understand that my beautiful Gabriel has never in his life said he loves anyone. Well, maybe his childhood dog, or a cat. But those are not Gabe words. And you must understand that Gabe, on a good day,speaks in signals and brief utterances: "water" "shopping" "Papa funny". Not in an inflected statement of love and pain.
So I took out his baby book, and we started again at the beginning. Once, Gabriel, you were growing within my body, and we were very happy you were coming to be born, and there were blackbirds singing in all the trees. Once, Gabriel--look, here's the photo--your brother was just a kid, and your sister--look, she was kind of funny looking, wasn't she? now she is so pretty. And here, look, it is your papa, and he is holding you--see how he loves you? We all love you, my dear, we did from the start. Oh, look, here you are with Pepper, she's licking your face--isn't that silly?
And on and on. And he fell asleep, finally, curled against me, safe for a moment.
His pretty doctor phoned today; the blood tests are in, and yeah, there might be something about his thyroid going on; let's try some medicine. And we will. And maybe the night will lift.
And maybe I will see that smile a bit more often, and let those wolves retreat. And yes, maybe..maybe sometime I'll sleep as well, letting the fog settle around me.