Mine started somewhere in the inbetween of December and January, but I don’t have a name for it yet.
Science calls it a blepharospasm. The Chinese say it’s a sign of coming good fortune.
A flicking one morning, a tugging that afternoon, the pulling took root swiftly. I envisioned little worker mites trotting across the side of my face, hairline strings slung over their shoulders, and the tiniest fishhooks piercing, yanking. Heave! Ho! My left eyelid, thick with fatigue, pulling and pushing and dragging.
An intermittent visitor warning me that something, indeed, was on its way.
Today it reminds me of what’s already happened. Me and this eye twitch five months on.
It didn’t die when she did. Present now. Me, still tired, hollowed.
When it really gets going, the drag to the left slows, tugs strong and I can feel my lashes brushing the side of my eye. Eyes shrunk by glasses, most often no one noticing.
I talked to Mom about it when she was in the midst of steroid-induced mania. A mania I was grateful for. Her “rally” they called it. A chemically-induced last hurrah. “We see this sometimes,” the hospice nurse beamed, “but not usually so strong. Such energy. She’s really *something*.” High marks, Mama.
“Hey, Ma. That eye thing I told you about? It’s still here.”
“Hand me that,” she says, and shoves mismatched socks into a half-empty bag of potato chips. “Have to get this ready for when we go” and she’s packing napkins and pens and discarded needle wrappers into her purse. All things in their place. Order in the room.
“That, too” she says and points to my blanket.
“But I’m staying the night. I need it.”
“You can get another.”
She takes it and I follow, tethered to her by an invisible lead. Just enough space between us – that faint line between dignity and risk. We’re turning and I find myself in one of those moments where you remember that the earth is a moving thing beneath you. It orbits. We spin. Mom grasping at being alive. Me, twitching at what is and what will be. Neither of us saying the things we sense and know. Both of us ignoring the clock on the north wall and the oxygen tube hissing on the floor in the corner. She’s not really her. I’m not really me. But we are some version of an “us”.
“We’ll be ready for Lexter,” she says. She’s been going on about Lexter for days. Mom believes a baby will born soon – here in her hospice bed. A baby boy. Lexter Wayne. My middle name, but he won’t be mine.
“You would have made a good father, son.”
She smooths the sheet across her bed, turns from me and presses her right knee into the mattress. My hands hover around her form, not touching or guiding, as she spins and falls back into her pillows. “You really would have. I know it.” She grins, grabs my hand. I look away, swallow.
“I meant to ask.” Her eyebrows rise in a worried point. “Did we forget to tip the nurse?”