Your Eyes Are Just Like Mine.

photo 4I don’t want you to come with me, but you must.

This kind of thing is hard with a four year-old,” I say to the other significant grown-up in your life.  But we adjust, because we must, and the gloss of the wintery Friday morning with its promise of evening leisure and slowing tempo makes the errand in question seem theoretically less complicated.  Besides, “I’m 98% sure there is nothing to worry about,” the first doctor said.  So off we go, you and I.

You, my little bird, are fleet-footed and infatuated with the new snow.  You chirp when you slip and I squeeze your woolen hand and even as you tumble under the sudden betrayal of your foot upon the earth, I notice for the millionth time how perfectly your hand fits into mine.  We walk through an eternity, thick with winter.  Eighteen thousand specks of micro-debris float in the landscape in front of me.  The snow is a blank canvas for them.

You talk to me and you sing your song of letting go, and I hear you and I smile.  I sing with you.  Or maybe I don’t.  I can’t tell.  You don’t know where we are going and you couldn’t care less because there is snow and we are together.  As for me, I have divided myself in two.  One sleepwalks, holds your hand and leads you through the jangly door with the gold lettering.  The other stands, leaning against a bus stop in the snow.  He takes a picture of us.  He loves the way you hop through the door.  He loves what your voice does to the snow.  I don’t know what he thinks of me.

We wait in there for what must be a year, surrounded by wheelchairs and walking sticks.  I read to you and the words tumble out and they are empty circuitry.  Your eyes are so wide, all bubble and light.  They consume the world around you.  They are syrup brown, just like mine.

Just like mine.  My heart darkens.  Outside the window, the other one taps on the glass.  He puts his finger to his lips.  Shhh, he implores.  I ignore him.  You just go on loving your book and making old ladies smile.

Somehow we teleport to a room full of  machines that will attach to my head and shoot lines of deep light into my field of vision.  There are charts of lines and color for me to squint at.  There are drops that sting my eyes.  I do all this, and as I do, you are there with your universal friendliness and your fearless curiosity and as the doctor sits wordlessly hour after hour, year after year blasting light into me and making notations and saying nothing, you calm this disorienting laboratory of distress with your easy chatter, with the pictures you draw for the nurses, with the way you flash those clear, healthy brown eyes in the crooked light of the room and tell me jokes.  You hand me a scribble on a post-it note at the very same time the wordless doctor hands me a diagnosis, neither of which I can read.  I take yours first.  I can see nothing but a dim outline of a circle.  “I made it for you, Daddy.”  It is the most wondrous thing I have ever held in my hand.

The doctor says she wishes that she didn’t find anything.  I don’t comprehend the words.  They are strange and I am test-blind.

I hold the diagnosis in one hand and your picture in the other, light blazing from both.