I have not seen Milo’s gap-toothed smile in 240 hours. I haven’t heard his growl in 15,840 minutes. It’s been 777,600 seconds since I heard his laugh and 9 and 1/2 days since I heard him cry. But who’s counting?
I have been separated from Milo for. . . ever. Forever.
To say that I have missed my boy is to say that Halle Berry is beautiful, or that Ella Fitzgerald can sing, or Sandy Koufax could pitch. I have missed my boy like the Aphasic misses words. Like the misguided bat misses the echo.
In those days, hours, minutes and seconds I have flown with my husband to visit with my best friend and her family; picked up a car she gave us as a gift and driven through 8 states. I have slept in 4 hotels, sometimes for 10 hours at a stretch. I’ve eaten 18 meals at local restaurants, without seeing a single buffalo wing or quesadilla. I’ve tried cocktails with fresh mint, basil, muddled strawberries and raspberry sorbet. I’ve been caught in several traffic jams and responded by opening the window and singing out louder. My husband and I haven’t hard a hard word between us. I haven’t been this relaxed since we got Milo’s diagnosis.
One of our stops was in a mountain town where we lived as newlyweds 15 years ago. We had breakfast and took a hike with my closest friend there, who is a painter. She’s 24 years older than I am. 15 years ago we bonded over our similarities (even the odd ones) — being artists married to intellectuals, neither of us had children (in the house anyway, hers were grown and gone, mine were yet to arrive.) We loved to hike and read. She was an amazing cook, I am an excellent eater. The last time I saw her was 3 years ago when we visited during a bitterly cold winter and Milo was at the height of difficult. Between his fussing and our attempts to avoid her pets, I don’t think we had the chance to complete a single conversation. But we have the phone and email. She became a grandmother. I became a mother. Then her husband got sick. My child is sick. We had less time to give to those far away. We were needed at home. Earlier this year her husband of 53 years died.
15 years is a lifetime. Not mine, not hers. With luck, not Milo’s. But 15 years isn’t a generation, it isn’t the difference between childhood and middle age, or middle age and old age. So, how long is it? How long have I known her? How long have I been gone from her? Sometimes time passes. Some time must pass. Time, it passes. I can’t figure out how any of this happened. Except that I know exactly how it happened because I was there, while it happened. It all happened in my time.
My friend is still young, or young enough. She mourns, but she also rejoices. She can still find an errant rhododendron blossom growing between the mossy boulders of our favorite state park. She remains an artist, a discoverer. And I believe she has longer to mourn, but also a future of love, and canvases.
We pick Milo up in the morning. In 12 hours, exactly. I can’t wait to find out what he’s learned, if he’s grown. I hope he is proud of himself and anxious to share his experience, but I worry he’ll be angry with me, that he’ll feel abandoned. But its only been 10 days. How much can he have changed? Oh my, it’s been 10 days, so much may have changed.