It’s been years since you broke all your things, threw them to the ground and cut your bare feet as you stomped and kicked. They used to be toys, Star Wars figures and cars, but now your computer, your phone, your headphones, the Lego buildings you kept up on high shelves. Downstairs you pull books to the floor, rip art off the wall, empty the refrigerator, throw the stool down to the basement where it crashes, wooden legs splintering. Your face hard and brittle like it will splinter too, into wet shards, into daggers. Your tears shoot out so far one lands on my arm as I circle you. Your fingers clench tight; your knuckles audibly pop, dislocate and move back in place.
We’re not supposed to write about our children. We’re not supposed to tell their stories, just ours. But what is my story if not yours, if not us, if not my every minute of existence balancing what is you and I. This is not “special needs” or “a burden” or “crisis” or anything about words or labels. This is your breath and mine, CPR, panicked, tightened airways. This is driving by the hospital and jerking, my arms almost pulling us into another car beside us. This is “no, no, keep him home, keep him close” as others take care of your sisters. This is people I know and don’t know telling me to hush now, to keep this shit to myself, to think of you in twenty years. What will you think of these words?
This is never sleeping deeply, thinly-woven dreams of your funeral.
It’s been years since you broke all your things, but every day you look half-dead. Today you are alive, filled with anguish and grief and begging me to let you go, and I want, for the millionth time, to go back in time and hold you as a newborn. To hold you so close and kiss your beautiful face and promise you the world. Then go back a little further and let you go.
This is me loving you, shouted down and lifted up, but it’s still just you and me in the basement in the dark, playing video games next to a broken stool while you cry. I go to the bathroom and shove a towel in my mouth so you don’t hear me.
Hannah Grieco is a writer and advocate in Arlington, VA. She can found online at www.hgrieco.com, on Twitter at @writesloud, and at Porcupine Literary as the fiction editor.