Monday, September 25, 2006

In an effort to feel creative but being wholly unable to create anything new, I felt an urge to post this musing from the nonfiction class I took this spring. It's a meditation on a one-sentence Xanga post I made last summer.


There was absolute silence as I stared into the mirror. Even the roar of the air conditioner was absent. No movement in the world, no sound at all. At first my ears strained to hear anything, but then I accepted the quiet. I was all alone in a different world. I was not me in this moment. Staring into the eyes before me, I saw green with just a fleck of grey around my pupils. I had changed into something new. The planets in my personal universe had aligned while I slept in the evening, and some thief had stolen the old me away, leaving a new me in my stead. They left me alone in the world, and I knew it because my eyes were green.

I thought a lot about death that mild summer evening, the shocking verdigris that stared back at me in the mirror reminded me of my mother’s eyes, a sight unseen for almost eight years until that June evening.

All of my life my eyes have changed color, shifting from blue to slate to blue-green, but they had never been completely green. Science shows that we receive our eye color based on genetics. My father has blue eyes; my mother had green. All of their children have blue eyes. Mine shift color frequently, an event unexplicable by scientists or genetics.

I had been dwelling on the idea of death and the grief that accompanies a loss even after eight years. It’s a criticism I often receive—I’m morbid. I’m also caught up on this idea of green, a color that reminds me of life and, apparently, death. Why did the color of my mother’s eyes become my own temporarily and what could it mean?

It’s that green, the green that I saw in her eyes that brought me back to her on that clear June evening. I’m reminded of a similar June evening in Colorado, 1995, my eleventh birthday. I was upset about something, and my mother took me on a walk down the gravel road as the dark night enveloped the campground. The surrounding woods buzzed with the sounds of nature, night birds calling, crickets chirping, and the hum of life. It was chilly, and my mom wrapped her arm around my shoulders as we walked.

I don’t remember what she said, but I remember that she was there for me. I couldn’t see her face, but I could feel her soft gaze upon me. When I looked into her eyes back then, I couldn’t see the death that waited behind her right eye. Sure, I understood that cancer had taken up residence on her retina, but the idea of a tumor killing her was foreign. Moms don’t die, they can’t.

Perhaps it’s the fact that my mother always commented on my shifting eye color that makes me so aware of them. I remember wanting my eyes to turn green, deep green. Once in awhile they were flecked with emerald shards, but they still held the clarity of blue. Blue is beautiful, green is a magical color.

I think I was visited by her spirit, her memory in my dreams that evening. My wife has dreams about my mother. She has had conversations with a woman she has never met, and everything she says rings true. They meet at a cafĂ© and drink tea. They chat about me, and my mom offers my wife advice. Maybe my dreams brought me back to my mother as the daylight faded this summer. Maybe her spirit lingered with me. Maybe I connected with something beyond this plane of existence. I don’t remember dreaming about her, but something prompted me to wake and go directly to the mirror.

When I awoke, I came into silence. The profound weight of life was made known to me as I stared in the mirror at a new me, a different me, a new living form sharing my eyes with death.

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