About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”
The four youngest kids are in bed, and I get into the shower as Michael runs to the store. About ten minutes later when I step from the shower, the first thing I hear is Finn’s wailing from across the house. I quickly dry off and dress and rush to his room, where I see him in the dim light of his nightlight, sitting up in his crib sobbing. I pick him up and settle with him in the rocking chair where his little body still heaves with his sobs. “What’s wrong, Finn? What’s the matter?” But he can’t tell me. “Shhhhh . . . it’s okay, it’s okay . . .” I rub his back and he gradually grows heavy against me, finally dozing, still occasionally hiccupping with his spent crying.
Was it a bad dream? He had only been in his crib for twenty minutes or so – hardly long enough for a bad dream to have gotten hold of him. And what would he have a bad dream about, anyway? I’m not sure he has any understanding of danger yet, and I have no idea how active or capable his imagination is. Was he just suddenly overcome with loneliness? Did his tummy hurt?
Eventually I put him back in his crib, pulling the covers up to his chin, watching his face now peaceful in sleep. I still don’t know why he was crying, and so fiercely. And this is certainly not the first time this has happened. So many things about Finn remain a mystery to me. As much as he is one of us, as much as from day-to-day and moment-to-moment, we hardly think about his differences, on some level it’s always there, and sometimes it’s brought into sharp relief: he’s like a foreigner traveling in a strange land without an interpreter.
I know the landscape of his personality, and I can usually figure out what he wants when he wants something, but for all the words he’s added to his lexicon in the almost four years he’s been on this earth, communication remains elusive, and I suspect it always will to some degree. I don’t know what he thinks about, what he imagines. I don’t know what monsters lurk in his room at night and set him to howling every so often. He can’t explain it to me, and so I am left guessing, and doing the best I can to make it all better for him.