What matters to me, the points in time, the moments that remain with me and have changed me, are rarely those that others would think. Perhaps this is why I hold myself distant; removed from many.
When looking back, seven years ago this summer; one of my most poignant memories, during the time in which my son was in the hospital, was the look in people’s eyes. Whether standing in the hallway of the Critical Care Unit, or pacing outside his door on the Pediatric Oncology floor; it was the look in the eyes of those passing by that lives as a tangible memory within my mind. I watched other parents, some with vacuous expressions, others with pain so visible in their eyes, that of my own watered instantly upon meeting theirs. Then there were those that looked unfazed. They were the ones that troubled me the most. I felt no resonance with them, as all I know how to do, is – feel.
Once home, away from the kindred gathering of those struggling for life, I noticed the look others gave me; the one’s that knew my son had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. The fear in their eyes was more than I could absorb. In fact, I chose not to take in their pain; my own was almost more than I could bear. Within their eyes I could readily see that I was living their nightmare. For many parents, a child with a diagnosis of cancer, is a nightmare they pray will never come their way. And to them, they were witnessing a parent who’s every day now embodied all their fears brought to life.
Knowing what they were thinking, I chose to look away. I did not want to stop and share with them that mine was not the nightmare. A call informing the mother of a soldier that her son or daughter has died – is a nightmare. Accidents that snuff the youthful breath from a child are the nightmares from which we never awaken. I was allowed to awaken. My eyes opened; my son was given a new day. And I pray many more to come. These are the moments that forever reshape our lives. I’ve had many such moments. I don’t know why. Perhaps I was so misshapen upon the start of my life that Fate felt I needed massive re-sculpturing to become that which I needed to be. I don’t know. But I’m here now – reshaped.
The look in someone’s eyes, reveals more truth than their words can ever hope to say. When a seasoned nurse looks up; your eyes meet, and within hers you see that she is scared, well…no words need be spoken. When the eyes of a lover, filled with insecurity and doubt, looks deep into that of your own; they needn’t open their mouth to express their love and longing. Of course the same is true in reverse. I’ve looked into the eyes of someone professing love, when all the while there eyes revealed only hatred. I remember the look in my father’s eyes when he no longer wanted to live. As if it were yesterday I remember the look in his eyes after his stroke; eyes held open while his frustrated soul was gone; moved on to freer places.
Guilt is seen in an instant, within the eyes of one that’s failed to keep their promise. And love can be seen and felt across a crowded room, with one paused glance from the one who holds our heart. As children, we would play the ‘if you had to lose one of your senses game.’ A dreadful game when it’s really considered. Yet as children we jump happily into this early form of psychological analysis with both feet. If asked now, my reply would be: just let me keep my sight, because through it I am allowed to not only see, but to hear that which can’t be said and to express what words cannot.