A face to shatter a mother's heart and most days fold her soul in half. I don't know what the world sees, but it can't possibly miss the vulnerability. That one moment in a series of photographs, the sort of rapid shooting when you hope to find that one expression. Every photograph says something, but there's always that one.
It was the summer he was clearly no longer a little boy. It was the summer he was just past the indignity of early adolescence and most likely didn't know. It was the last summer he could look at my camera with the confliction of overlapping emotion and be OK with that.
I can't say for sure, but it may have been the summer before the switch flipped.
The boy's always been a stream of consciousness, pacing while he thinks out loud. He was fourteen before I learned to sit and listen; the verbal river of information was a lot of things, but not a conversation. However, you're meant to listen or he'd not be so damned open. It's still hard for me to just sit and listen because I want to ask him questions, I want to interact, sometimes I want to say, son, that might not be so...? Or, maybe this also? Or, maybe just, God Damn, I love you! Don't. Just don't. Wait for it, there's going to come a moment of revelation. He may not hear it right away but if you're listening, you just might.
He's a man now, been so a good many years. He's a good man and I can say that truthfully, with a good bit of solid evidence even if I am his mother.
I did a thing this weekend, maybe a thing I've done in pieces parts for a while now, but I did a thing this weekend that opened a window. That's not accurate, it blew a wall down. We all of us have four walls, a roof, and a floor. Some of us have windows and doors but more often than not, they are locked. It's a lot safer that way. Very few of us know we've built these things.
I live in the house of my father...
No, you do not. You live in the house that you built of the rubble and the shrapnel from the bombs and strafing of your childhood. Not only do none of us get out of this alive, none of us come up unscathed. Maybe your best friend sees these things and maybe your mother. The thing is, it's often much easier to show your best friend if they've been around long enough to witness the changes than to show your mother.
For so long I thought it was because he would not, could not risk his heart of me. On Sunday, on my father's deck overlooking my father's meadow I saw I've had it upside down a while now. He cannot, will not risk my heart of him. I knew what I was looking for this morning. I wanted the last truly vulnerable evidence of who and what he is. This is a boy who would live and die for you. Yes, you, and maybe even me.
He said a thing that stopped my heart. He told the reason for needing to be so good at a thing, any one thing, doesn't matter. Sometimes his desire to master a thing is just for him; often times it is for the world at large. Am I good enough? If I can give you these things or know these things, am I visible? If I walk on eggshells, will I be safe? Because, you know this: we don't like change because of the unknown and anything can happen in the unknown. Good God, the unknown can kill you, or worse, strip more skin from your soul.
He might as well have been reading the tea leaves at the bottom of MY cup. You cannot tell a person like me or like him that we are enough, that we have a right to be in the world. Many of us cannot hear these things. I panicked and asked him to listen to me for a minute. Don't think, Love, just listen, and maybe, sometime, before you die even, a different sort of light will shine and you'll understand who you are at a molecular level.
The World says: You are not enough, you will never be enough. The World isn't being mean, the world is scared. If you think you might be enough, then maybe you might stop being entirely. If you are not failing, you are not reaching far enough, dammit! While there is some truth in that, it's not the big truth.
You are worthy. You are more than enough. Should you never learn another thing or make another gut wrenching effort to give something you're not sure you have to give, you will have been and done enough. You earned the right to walk the earth and breathe the air because you were born. That's it. The fact of your birth is all that's ever been needed.
I learned that this last weekend when I surrendered and let go of the doing and the thinking I believed I had to do. I could not do and so I let the whole thing fall down. Except it didn't. He picked up the pieces. His sister picked up the pieces. I looked at him while he was speaking. He'd stopped pacing and looked at me and continued to speak. I can't imagine he really knew what he was communicating, but I sure as hell didn't miss it.
In every life there is a Big Hurt. Some look bigger than others but comparison is pointless. Me and Mike, we share the same Big Hurt. The theme song might be different, but the truth is the truth. Do you know your one Big Hurt? It helps.
We share some of the same defense mechanisms. They're the ways of being that took me down after too many years of too much too much - and so I took a breath and spoke...