Travis, I miss you! I know it has only been two nights, and you've been away for two nights at a time before, but it's different now, and I miss you.
This morning at 7am your two little brothers climbed into bed with your dad and I, and I thought: "So this is what it's like for other families".
And it felt strange and good and then I remembered the sound of manic giggles bubbling up the staircase at 5am, letting me know that you're lying awake, and I'd better get my big butt out of bed to make you tea before you started screaming and woke the whole house up, or ripped your cupboard doors off or shredded a couple of R200 notes that you'd found in my purse or ate an entire tube of toothpaste for breakfast.
The truth? I used to hate the sound of your crazy, non-stop giggles coming from the other side of your bedroom door. It wasn't natural; it filled me with anxiety. Because they spelled another sleepless night. Another night of hairpulling, of my chest tight with despair. Of 2am tears and bargains with God: "Please Lord, just let him fall asleep and I'll be a better mom, starting tomorrow."
For almost 8 years, if you didn't sleep, I wouldn't sleep. That was just the way of it, like Mother Nature hotwired us together.
Now I lie in bed blanketed in the promise of delicious, uninterrupted sleep and all I can think about is if you've had something to drink. I'm tortured by the idea that you're dying of thirst and no one has noticed because they don't know you like I know you.
Or did I ever know you, Travis? Have I just imagined everything that flitted unspoken between us these last few years? A delusional, desperate mom who would tell herself that she shared some kind of telepathy with her non-verbal, mentally challenged child, because it sounded better than the truth? That she was locked out from Day 1?
These are not worthy thoughts. You are getting the very best specialised care that money can buy: 24/7. I know, I know, I know.
I'm twisting the knife because I feel so guilty, heartsore, relieved, depressed, angry, confused for feeling relieved, so ladle on a big old extra helping of guilt for that... It's such a mess inside my head right now.
Travis, I miss you. I know this is for the best, but I miss you. Did I mention I miss you?
Do you miss me too?