This is much; yet Ahab’s larger, darker, deeper part remains unhinted. But vain to popularize profundities, and all truth is profound.
Chapter 41, Moby-Dick
The timekeepers were not here, so they ran the halls two hours short of midnight. Too tired for sanity they fell into a rare moment of play, each having reached the level of deterioration necessary–she too tired to devour, he too tired to hold his shell tight around him. I turned and saw him there, without his red jacket on. Laughing. In his shirt sleeves.
This is monumental– and something only she,the consuming fire who will burn us all out, could have accomplished. She is laughing and singing him a song off his Spotitfy play list–a song so absurd, only an auspergers child could have put this on his list.
Sexy and I Know It
As an infant he bounced to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. As a toddler he became giddy under the spell of Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King. In third grade his younger brother pleaded with us to remove the CD player from their room lest Rex subject him to Beethoven’s 9th one more night. It had been the evening’s soundtrack for over two years straight.
Now it’s Sexy and I Know It. It’s the beat. There is not a song on that play list that doesn’t pound out a rhythm like a defibrillator.
“Interpersonal interactions appear to be difficult for Rex to navigate.”
The psychiatrist looked across the room at me and asked “Has anyone ever mentioned Asperger’s Disorder?”
Let me skip tracks for a groove here
honesty and love
honesty and love
My father never said “I love you, Beth”
It was always “Your Mom and I love you, B.”
He did not say “I love you.” To anyone. Not to his wife, not that I ever heard. Not to his mother.
“the crazy bat”.
He would not speak to her.
From the time his infant body developed enough strength to pull away he did. He would twist away from her and arch his tiny back as if her touch seared his skin. As soon as he could, my father slid from his mother’s lap and left her behind.
At ninety-three she could still count the number of times her first-born son had touched her.
Could count them on one hand.
On one finger, actually.
His mother could count the number of times her son had touched her on one finger. And at 93, she wept for not holding tighter to that moment, not realizing it would be the one and only time.
Honesty and love.
Well, there is a catch to the broken.
There is a kind of broken that brings an honesty that can eviscerate a child in its midst.
Shower in the acid rain of Asperger’s unfiltered honesty.
There is no Santa Claus.
Red is a bad color for you.
Your sister hates you for being born.
That’s going to make you fat.
They run the hall, ten at night. She goads him and grabs him and drives him like no one else can. I ask him to take the dog out and he does. It’s a funny disorder in which exhaustion manifests as acting your age. She slides around the corner and leans in the laundry room doorway, breathless, watching me hang the wet clothes. Ten at night. The time keepers are not here. We have lost the bone structure of schedule and have slipped into the timeless zone they associate with Mother.
“Rex doesn’t love me.” she pouts.
“What are you talking about? He loves you.”
“He doesn’t love me like I love him.”
No one loves like you, my child–you consume us.
But actually, the exact same thought had crossed my mind as I stood in the shower this morning. In that place where warm water washes over and the mind goes fingering back through the files. . .”Limited cognitive flexibility. . .make it rather difficult for Rex to understand and manage emotions, due to their abstract and ambiguous nature. . .asked to identify emotions in others, he often responded by describing thoughts rather than emotions.”
I thought “He will never love me as I love him.”
But then, who ever loves us as we love them? Ever? Is it Asperger’s Disorder, or is it life?
“Sure, it has been mentioned,” I told the psychiatrist “In reference to my father, in reference to my little sister, but Rex? Rex?”
I jokingly refer to him as my “Four morning hugs! Four morning kisses!”
This is how we part each morning.
then one-two (left cheek),
three-four (right cheek)
He is the picture of affection.
Except it is not affection. Suddenly I realize. It is compulsion. This is his ritual and he performs it each time he leaves the house.
So I will not die while he is gone.
Four morning hugs, four morning kisses. The mother is secured, I can go to school now.
She will still be here when I get back.
She will still be here because I did it right.
He loves us the only way he can, and it is no less real for that.
Honesty and love.