“The day my father’s heart stopped, I discovered an extra heart deep in my belly, below my right rib. It talked to me. I wasn’t crazy. Before that day, I had just one heart that never said a word.
My little brother, Aaron, was kind of crazy, I guess, but everything in our house was what my Grandpa Ben liked to call “under control.” At least I always knew what to expect.
Aaron and I had two parents, but really we each had one. Mom was in charge of Aaron. As soon as he was born, she quit her job so she could take care of him. She was his. Grandpa Ben was Aaron’s too.
Dad was mine.
I missed Mom—the mother I remembered from Before Aaron. She used to pick me up every day after school. If my nose was running, she had tissues. She took them from her purse, and they smelled sweet like flowers.
At home, Mom and I used to make things—puppets out of wooden spoons we dressed in scraps from Dad’s old ties. Dolls with a tiny hole in their heads made from eggs with their yolks blown out. We balanced them on toilet paper rolls and made their hair out of wool and their dresses out of colored tissue paper.
Mom showed me how to paint and glue wings on clothespins. We sprinkled them all over with sequins. We called them Clothespin Angels. We made them talk to one another in high, squeaky voices the way I imagined bugs would sound if they spoke. We played with them for hours. While we played, Mom’s green eye came so close to mine it looked almost too bright, like when I stared at the moon in Cape Cod.
I have green eyes. Mom has only one that’s green. Her other eye is brown like Aaron’s. I used to wonder: If Mom had been born with both eyes the same color, would they have been green or brown? I asked her if she could change one eye or the other, which color would she choose?
“Green,” she said. “Like new grass.”
“That’s the color of my eyes,” I said, proud she had picked me over Aaron for once.
Moms says she sees mostly through her green eye. I call it her miracle eye because Mom sees miracles. Not big miracles like Moses parting the Red Sea,but everyday ones like the shadow patterns pigeons make in the park when they flutter. Or mist rising from the Hudson River when sunbeams bounce off the George Washington Bridge and hit the sky. You had to be in the right place at the right time and in just the right mood to see Mom’s miracles. It was easy to miss them. When Aaron came along and took Mom away from me, I thought maybe he was better than me at seeing them…”