I follow the little arm to the very end of an outstretched finger. I look into the distance to see what she is pointing at.
“What do you see, baby girl?”
I am nearly breathless.
“I see the blue house.”
I can barely contain myself.
“I see it too, Brooke! Yes! The house (which was actually a small industrial looking building) is blue! Thank you so much for showing it to me!”
She is three weeks shy of six years old.
The words play again and again in my ears like a sweet, rhapsodic concerto.
I think back to that first evaluation.
The doctor said, “She lacks shared enjoyment.”
I’d never heard the phrase before, but the truth in the words was painfully obvious.
“She does not point to objects or seek to engage others in any type of cooperative play. She does not share observations about her surroundings as would a typically developing child.”
OK, so it took nearly six years. Brooke has never claimed to be on anyone’s schedule but her own.
But there it was.
No prodding nor urging nor cajoling.
Just a blue house.
An outstretched finger.
And an overjoyed Mama.
This past Saturday …
I went into the Haunted House with Brooke. Katie hates the Haunted House; Brooke loves it, so Katie sits it out and I get to go along.
Truth be told, it’s a pretty awful haunted house. It’s a bit (or a lot) dilapidated. Its only real saving grace is that it’s dark.
But Brooke adores it. She finds bad attempts at spooky and creepy sort of hilarious. Did I ever tell you about the Halloween a few years ago when a guy in a reeeeeally scary mask snuck up on her and tried to scare her at a neighbor’s house? She responded by shouting, “BOO!” in his face. It was awesome. Almost as awesome as when our little car came to a particularly macabre scene on Saturday and she quite gleefully announced, “I think we’re in Hell!”
But it was something else that she said on the ride that I would repeat later that night to my dad. Something else that would bring us both to tears and to which my dad would reply, “She’s finding her way, Jessie.”
As we rode by a wall that was riddled with cracks and holes (see: dilapidated), Brooke said, “Light from the outside is creeping in.”
Yeah, that was it. That was what made both my dad and me cry. Want to know why?
There are so many layers of %!?$ing awesome in that sentence.
Let’s start with my kid sharing with me something that she sees, something that she finds interesting. The first time that she did that was days before her sixth birthday. It was a blue house. Yeah, I remember. You don’t forget something like that. It was the most wonderful blue house I’d ever seen in my life.
And then there’s the fact that the light was on the other side of the wall and that she knew that that was what she was seeing and that whole concept is just so rich and complex and beautiful.
Because we don’t have to see it to know that it’s there. Because we can trust what we know and relate it to the moment and in taking our knowledge of what’s happening somewhere else, we can bring it in to where we are and it gives us the superpower of seeing through a bloody wall.
And the language, no less layered and rich and complex than the concept it was used to describe — Light from the outside is creeping in.” Light creeping in. Can I get a wow?
The tears came because we remember. We remember when the only words available to my girl were the very last ones said.
We remember how hard it was for her to tell us, to tell anyone, what she wanted, needed, was trying to say.
We remember the frustration and the constant meltdowns that accompanied it. We remember our hearts breaking because she wanted so desperately for us to understand, and so often, no matter how much we wanted to or how hard we tried, we just couldn’t.
We remembered being terrified that she’d stop trying.
We remember not knowing yet that our girl doesn’t ever stop trying.
On Saturday, she looked at pinpoints of light in a haunted house wall and said, “Light from the outside is creeping in.”
“Miles, Jessie,” my dad said that night, “she’s come MILES.”
For those of you just joining this journey, please just know – we remember.
It was a blue house. And she was almost six.