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What happens when a piece of your family is gone? - Anna Rosenblum Palmer
I am holding the iPad at an angle so it is the boys’ faces reflected in the screen not my own. Steve’s face looms over me at this angle. He is fumbling for his ear buds so we see first his nose, then the lapel of his linen suit, then the ceiling of the covered Tokyo walkway. While he apologizes I watch the square in the corner where his sons’ faces are angled towards him. Their brows are smooth, Oliver’s hair, wet from the shower, flops over one side of his face. We are getting it cut in two days and I will miss this mop. Finally Steve is ready. “Can you hear me?” He asks. Because of course he did. We can, and we could before, it was he who needed the earplugs. Oliver asks. “Can you hear US?” He can. The boys ask him questions. “How was your flight?” “What was your day like today?” I remind them that it is morning in Japan. Leo laughs. “I can never get used to that.” Steve tells us he is taking a bullet train today and the boys like the sound of that. Oliver tells Steve that both boys have done well on math tests today. I speak for the first time, a faceless voice off the screen, adding that they hadn’t actually gotten the test results back…just that they both FELT good about the test. “That’s a good first step.” Oliver tells me. “Yes” Steve agrees. “It’s a good first step.” Silence. It is hard to keep a conversation going over Facetime even if everyone wants to. So we cut to the round of “I miss yous. I love yous.” Then the part I hate. The hanging up. Its not that the Facetime call brought him into our life or us into his in any meaningful way. Its choosing to disconnect that I find hard. It was the same problem that found me asleep next to my phone at 1am on school nights in highschool. It is hard to hang up. I have my finger a quarter inch from the screen. Leo is still saying “I love you” I know that this can go on for a while. Saying it many times seems important to him. Oliver is more efficient, he feels there is the same meaning in one expression of love as in many. He is waiting patiently for his brother to finish his ritual. I try to catch Leo’s eye to get a signal that we are ready to end the call and he gives me a short nod. I add in one last “miss you” and tap the screen right as Leo is saying “I love…” Steve is frozen in front of us, somehow looking at the camera instead of to the side where his own image would have been. I feel terrible to have cut Leo off but he has moved on. He is “driving” the remote and he has started up the Flash. Facetime ...