There has been a hole in my life, during my time away.
The boys were here in New York, and I was miles and miles away from them... wondering how they were. I had the occasional thought, "Do they think of me, too?" After all, I am not family, I am not long in their lives... we spend a few hours together and then, I'm off to my little flat downstairs.
Today, I had a chance to see them for the first time since I returned home... I knocked, and my questions were answered. C called out, "Miss Quin! Dad! She's home, she's home!" and a small bundle of jeans and tshirt and deep, dark, red hair crawled up my legs, pulling himself into my arms, wrapping his own around my shoulders as he buried his face in my neck, saying my name over and over. He took my face in his hands, actually looking me in the eye, a difficult thing for him to do....."Oh, never leave me again, never, never, never!"
I rocked him, both of us in our different versions of separation from life, him with his touches of autism, me with my Asperger's, both of us afraid in so many ways of touch and fear of affection and not knowing how to interact and the ineptness that can overwhelm us.... we rocked there, as he wrapped himself around me much like the moonflower vines I love wrap around a post, and we crooned to each other. He whispered in my ear all the things he'd done while I was gone, along with the nocturnal habits of the aardvark, and how he'd seen one at the zoo--did I know they would pee to mark their territory?
We walked outside to look at how his new plastic alligator I brought him fit into the sandbox. R came home, sunny and open and gave hugs and thanks for his gift, dashing back inside to do what he does so well... be sunny and open and joyful.
C and I stayed outside a bit longer, discussing the lilac bushes and bumblebees vs wasps, why the flowers he had picked died, how he needed to put them in water...I told him where I had been... I told him I'd seen armadillos, and he asked if they were dead. "Yes, they were." He thought about that, and asked if the cars on the road had killed them. "Yes, they are too slow, C... it's a shame."
The subject was done then, asked and answered and done.... it was time for him to go spend the night with his aunt. I had to promise I'd be here when he returns tomorrow.
This makes things harder.... I'm told he had bad days in school when I was gone. He cried one night. I find in him the same connection on certain levels I have with The Investment, an instinctive understanding that is between us, based on our quirks. The idea of leaving him saddens me.
Who else will save their lost tooth in a ziplock bag for a week before putting it under their pillow, just so I can see it? Who will curl up with me, looking for films on youtube of dinosaurs and lions and will insist we watch the attack of the Indian Rhino 47 times a day? Who will dance with me when we watch "Move It" from Madagascar, and not think I dance funny? R sits and laughs at us, before he, too, joins in.
I speak softly around him. He finds ease around me.