I remember holding you in my arms for the first time. How you turned your head and grasped my finger with yours. It’s how I fell in love.
You had blue eyes at first and eyelashes as long as your mother’s even though you weren’t an hour old. I remember feeding you, bathing you, and pretending to hurt myself because of how it made you laugh. All told, the very best parts of any parent’s day.
I remember walking you to school. Pre-school. Kindergarten. All the grades up to and including four. You are ferocious in your learning, hungry for everything that was new. I remember figure skating, Minx the cat, and all the times I carried you to bed. The teeth you lost and the smiles you gave; a heart which seemed to dance. All of it, every part: our lives as meant to be.
I remember the officers, their posture, and how they held their hats as they stand outside our door; that our prearranged meeting time for walking home alone had come and gone and the grace period you knew nothing about had come and gone as well. This is how it starts. How we knew something had gone wrong. Once he has been caught, I try my best to burn holes into the back of what passes for his head. He never turns to meet me, not in all the years it takes.
I study him, dream of him, and become something less in the exchange—a version of myself I can’t help but begin to hate. Your mother tries with me, cries with me, but everything you were is bigger than the sun. I give her what she wants, but not what I believe she needs.
I fall further, deeper, the blackouts I create as feared as they are embraced. I want oblivion. I want clarity. Each and neither at the very same time. Only when I’m told he’s been granted early release am I able to put these things away. Not for me, but for you, because you were my child.
Free, I remember the day he is paroled and the day I follow him back to his father’s farm. He bolts when he sees me, recognition creating flight. I pass goats and cows and un-mucked stalls as my body becomes younger than it is, faster than it should be. Unlike him, this comes from memory. From days I longed to know.
I follow him up the silo, his face turned down toward mine. It’s exactly as I picture your face, there when your fear was at its worst. At the top I stop, step forward, my mind ablaze and set. He knows this, sees this, his mouth going on and on and on. I don’t think, only act, and ensure I end up on top. We fall, him screaming, my hold upon his body stronger than the stone atop your grave. It compresses when we hit, collapses, crushing breath and bone alike. Liquid splashes upwards, outwards. I feel it mix with mine.
I recall all of this, every bit, but the part I remember most is how I held you in my arms. How you turned your head and grasped my finger with yours.
It’s how I fell in love.