It’s the nuances of expression that we rely on to read the people who pass through our lives each day. Each face tells its own story. You can read a lot about a person just by looking at their face. Some have a soft smile that says all is well. Some faces look weary and you can tell life has given them a lot to handle. Some faces say “don’t mess with me”. I love to read faces almost as much as reading books.
I have found that the lack of the ability to share a smile with someone or a kiss on the cheek is something that has been quite taken for granted. It made me a bit sad when I realized I couldn’t give my son or daughter a kiss on their cheek when saying good night. The hug would have to do. The pucker doesn’t pucker. Good thing I’m permanently single.
I’m not a particularly vain person and have always been happy with my face. It’s of average symmetry with a little extra fluff around the jowls and some deepening wrinkles but for the most part, not a bad face, except for the fact that it no longer works.
My face has had some electrical therapy on the paralyzed side so it no longer droops. But it doesn’t move either. It doesn’t blink automatically so I have to remember to blink it to keep the eye moist. That also means I can’t wink. How I love to wink, especially now that I can’t. It’s like sharing an inside joke with your face.
But what I miss most with this half paralyzed face is my smile. I work very hard at it but the face just won’t co-operate. That’s how I tell my story when we meet. Yes, life has left me a little rough around the edges but I’m really glad to see you even if I don’t know you. That’s what my smile would say if I had one.
I rode the bus home this week after having a rough breakfast meeting with my ex-husband. After a 2 hour verbal tug of war with him, and a lot of walking to the bank, notary and fax center as well as shopping for the few groceries I could carry, I was tired and ready to get home. The bus was completely full. Just as a few seats emptied, a couple got on with their grandson. He was around 3 or 4 and had to sit on grandma’s lap first then moved over to grandpa. I so wanted to smile my trusty “you are so adorable” smile at him but it just wouldn’t materialize. Out of a bus full of strangers, one small boy that couldn’t figure out why my face was crooked was what I cared about. He’s the one I wanted to explain it to but of course that wasn’t possible. Now grandma, she had a nice smile and I carried it with me all those blocks from the bus stop home. Her smile said that little boy made all of the hard stuff worthwhile.
So how do we express ourselves without the face? A lot of the people I see don’t speak the same language. Nor would I verbally say what I feel to strangers or oftentimes even to family or friends. But the face can express lots of emotions that all languages can understand. Maybe my lack of expression was why it took 2 hours to end the tug of war. Expressions are how we decide if we want to get to know someone better. That’s what my face would say. “I want to get to know you better.”
From my heart to yours,