Facial Recognition

“Did you know,” my mother starts, “that there is such a thing as facial blindness? It’s where people can’t differentiate between two faces, even if one of them is their child or best friend. Like color blindness, but with faces.”

It’s not the same thing at all, I am thinking. Who cares if you go into public wearing purple, while thinking it is blue? But faces? Forgetting your favorite faces seems like some kind of heart wrenching hell, for you, and the people who still know yours. It is one of the worst things, isn’t it? To be seen, and entirely unknown. To not be recognized by your own mother or spouse?

I am thinking, now, about my own children. They are the faces that I am always looking for, even when I know they are safely at home and I am on a trip out of town. They are as distinct, as they are distinctly different. Five perfect masterpieces. Five living works of art. Always changing before I am ready, always pleading when I am ready to go out, to please, just stay. Always lighting up and coming towards me, smiling, the minute I get back home.

Sometimes, I look at them, and forget how to breathe. They are so beautiful, that the air goes out of my lungs and pauses for a moment, before rushing back into me.

They are small, and warm, and so good at loving, that they are surely sacred. They have shown me more holy and more to live wholly than a lifetime spent in church. And while they bring me to my knees, they are my reasons for bowing my head in gratitude.

My boy. My sweet 11 yr. old boy, who is all blue eyes and heart. The child who first made my body contract, its muscles and sinew working together to expand and make my life big enough for him to fit. The first baby ever placed in my arms and called “mine.” This boy, who loves and fights with all there is inside of him, every single day. My Jonah- whose rounded face pinches my heart with its earnestness. His pink cheeks burn when he does something he is not proud of. His ears, glowing like otic lava lamps, as he comes to me, “Mommy, we have to talk.” His dimples, like little flashing beacons, that always guide me home.

He is my only boy, in a sea of girls.My little ladies in waiting. Waiting, to get their ears pierced. Waiting, to wear makeup in public. Waiting to have their own, too quickly approaching, adventures. My four girls. My March sisters- except without the Beth dying part, and the spoiling of Amy. All trying to be their own person, while staying tied to this life raft we call Family.

My Ellie- whose smile mirrors and magnifies the sun. Her sad, honest eyes, that look just like my great-grandmother’s. Her crooked smile, lilting, just so, to the right. Her green/hazel eyes, that make her seem like such an old soul, reimagined in a seven year old body. And her perfect smattering of freckles, dotting the landscape of her high cheekbones and fine nose. This one, who has a kindness about her, like an angora sweater, soft and comforting.

My Zoe Grace- who calls herself my little me. My dark-haired, passionate girl, whose arms and legs move with determination, and a fierceness that is like a fire, uncontained. Her olive skin and dark chocolate eyes reflecting the ways in which she views the world. She is all in, or all out, and needs deeply to know that she is loved. And she is, so much, this girl who looks so much like me, and like the little girl I dreamed of someday having, since before I was a teenager. This girl, who has my eyes and lips, and so far, my inability to control them when angry.

Then there is my Calliope. The most feeling four year old, ever made. My sweet, princess baby, who has the looks and delicate emotions of a china doll. Her golden brown ringlets sweep her lower back, her hazel eyes crinkle almost audibly when she smiles. Her rosy cheeks, still baby rounds, rise like hills on her beautiful face. This girl, who is always singing, always engaging, always ready to receive praise from me. She is as sweet as she is charming, and feels as special as she does fragile. I can’t wait to see what she does with her one, beautiful, life.

And finally, my baby. This dimpled, splendid creature, who calls me ‘Mama’ even though all of her siblings call me Mommy. This girl, who makes her own way, and makes sure there is always room for her, in every situation. My dark-haired, fair-skinned, bright-eyed, finale. My Naomi, who is so precious, I often marvel that she came from me. Her dark, coffee bean eyes, snapping. Her dimples, gleaming, as her feet bounce up and down, excitedly. This girl, who breaks something hard off of me, every time  she wraps her arms around my neck and says, “So much, Mama. So much.”

They are much. The Fabulous Five, my favorites of all people. These faces who break me, and build me, into something I didn’t know I could be. These faces, that yes, Jerry McGuire, complete me. They are who I want to see. They are all the things I know by heart.

Forgetting them is unimaginable. Even to someone as blind as I can be. These five little faces, are a part of me.


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