The first thing strangers comment on are her eyes. They have flecks of gold like mine, but the blue is so much cleaner, truer – bluer. Her eyelashes are what they mention next. How long and thick they are. How people buy lashes like hers in stores. She’s not like other babies. She doesn’t look away. She stares back, without blinking, taking it all in. Sometimes she smiles.
When I look at her eyes, really look, her face falls away. While the skin around them is unlined, the eyes are old. She has seen much in her short life. Some wonderful things – her family, rainbows, funny faces, cartoons, puppy kisses, toys that light up and make noise. Then there are the terrible things. She’s seen death, pain, the suffering of others, tears of terror and tears of loss.
She’ll never remember those things. But when I look in her eyes, I can tell they left a mark.
On the anniversary of the day she was supposed to be born, I wonder how those extra eleven weeks would have changed her. Would she have seen less? Would her eyes be so blue?
As you grow older, you shed skin, you lose hair, you grow fingernails. But the eyes. The eyes stay the same. Scars on your skin will fade, a bad haircut grows out, broken nails eventually mend. But the eyes. They can’t un-see. They don’t grow or shed. The eyes you are born with are the eyes you take with you to the grave.
In fourteen months, she has witnessed more than I can fathom. When I look into her eyes, I see wisdom beyond her year, and a calm, and a bit of sadness. I see a touch of mischief and glee, and the strength that carried her through what she was too young to comprehend. I wonder what I will see after her first kiss, or on her wedding day, or when she holds her own baby for the first time. Will she still have the same unblinking stare while she takes it all in? Will the marks of terrible things past fall away?
Will her eyes still be so blue?