We picked through the hardware store, my two-year-old tugging on my hand and pointing.
His curiosity knows no bounds. He’s finally started talking, and the world is opening up for him. He wants to be able to relate to the world around him–and the questions are not only incessant but insistent. He wants to know.
In the course of my errands, it’s become normal to just answer, one by one, as he asks.
“That’s a hammer.”
I can see his eyes moving getting his brain working it through as the word sloshes around his mouth before finally coming out.
We continue plodding through the store, with him tugging and stopping every few feet to ask again.
“What’s that?” he points at a bag on the shelf.
“What’s that?” he tugs at my hand pointing at the green rubber object that’s captured his interest.
I stop. What is that? I know what that is. I use it in the garden all the time. What do we call that thing?
I feel the panic start edging up my throat as I stand short in the middle of the aisle. I’m can’t move. I’m terrified.
“You’re doing it again. You can’t remember.” my brain shouts at me inside my head, “You don’t know what that is. Come on. Come on. You KNOW. What is that?”
I’m frozen while my mind reaches for the word, my eyes rolling up to look more deeply through my brain.
My teeth grind together as I reach deeper into my head. A fat tear rolls down my cheek, but I’m concentrating so hard, I barely notice it.
With some finality I give in. I pick it up and read the package.
“Nozzle,” I say to myself, my voice rising with the last syllable. “It’s a nozzle. Of course it’s a nozzle,” I giggle. More of a Joker’s laugh, the calamity averted, but still threatening in the background.
He tugs my hand, already onto the next thing.
He’s completely oblivious to my almost meltdown. Thank goodness.
Words are what I do. They complete the person that is me. Since I was a small child with a Speak and Spell, words have always been my comfort. I was the ugly duckling in school. Too smart for the other children, awkward socially. But I had my words. In books. And written. They were mine solely and I could lose myself in them and ignore the world.
Until the accident.
(Come back tomorrow for more…)
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