A few months ago, Kathryn spent a day collecting rocks. She collected maybe three dozen of them from around our neighborhood and placed them all on our porch. Most were small, only a few were bigger than my fist, but despite the fact that none of them looked in the slightest bit out of the ordinary to me, Kathryn told me she selected each one for a reason. Each one, she said, had something special, some unique quality that set it apart from the rest. So I sat down next to her on the top step of our front porch and she told me about them. She told me about each rock individually, asking me to recognize and confirm the differences that she saw, to affirm the uniqueness of her selections, and in doing so, affirm Kathryn herself. Affirm her uniqueness. It was one of those special moments a dad shares with his daughter if you define special moments by skull-bashing tedium.
Oh my god that girl uses a lot of words. And she just keeps using them and using them.
When Kathryn was younger, it was I who talked to her about everything. I filled our time together with a running monologue of anything I could think of. A lot of it was high-minded and ideological, like what she could be when she grew up or the proper response to handsome princes who might imagine her to be in need of rescuing, but much of it was just stuff I was saying to keep my brain from crusting over with the same dried shell of spit-up to which most of my clothes had already succumbed.
I told her about the water cycle and about social justice. I told her as much as I remembered from my philosophy classes, about Schopenhauer's delightful pessimism and how the Platonic ideals were crap but they were important crap. I explained crock pots and told her the secret to my brisket dry rub. I told her words and phrases I knew from other languages. I told her there is magic in the world and she didn't need to look any farther than a bottle of sunscreen for proof of it.
And Kathryn listened. She drooled and listened and filled herself with the words I spoke.
In her, the words multiplied. They grew and begot more words. And then they came out. A hundredfold. Gizmos turned to gremlins, besieging the air, ridding the world of silence.
However lately the words Kathryn's been using have been hard to hear. These past few months Kathryn's medicines have been speaking to us through her, and they haven't been saying nice things. They say things that eight-year-olds shouldn't say, putting voice to feelings that it's not fair for eight-year-olds to feel. And it hurts. So now we are starting to pull back on the medicines. We have seen the seizures, we have seen the medicines, and we are choosing the former. It is a grotesque choice.
four mornings ago I set a dish containing five pills next to Kathryn's Bite-Sized Mini-Wheats. Today the dish contained just two. And for the first time in a long while, I did not begin my day feeling like I was making a mistake.
Let the sparks fly.