June 30, 2006
It's been three years since the Yale School of Medicine took the MRI photos that introduced us to Congenital Bilateral Perisylvian Syndrome. It's a clumsy mouthful of words that, for reasons I can't fully explain but is probably a tiny act penance for my genetic guilt, I never copy and paste. I always type the words out.
This is it, by the way, in all its mysterious glory. Schuyler's brain. This was taken three years ago, but I assume it looks about the same. It won't heal, after all, although it is also worth pointing out, in that swell, "welcome to Holland", glass-half-full sort of way that it's not going to deteriorate, either.
It's the place where her monster lives, the thing that drives her, albeit without a license and with no regard for the law.
It's the mass of electrified tissue that will likely, one day when we least expect it (and we always expect it), begin to misfire and send her into seizures.
It's the echo chamber where she hears all the words that she knows, the full sentences that she tries to speak. It is also the hall from which those words can never escape except as a mysterious almost-language of vowels and inflections and pitch, but no hard consonants.
And it's also the place where King Kong lives.
Schuyler's brain is the file cabinet where the theme songs to Catscratch and Spongebob are stored, and where the lyrics and tunes to Wheels on the Bus and Itsy Bitsy Spider sit alongside those to the Village People's YMCA and James Brown's Sex Machine.
It is the art gallery where her portraits of toads and her parents (always strangely similar in general appearance) are hung, ready to reproduce in cheap restaurant crayon at a moment's notice.
It is where the lists of things that she IS and is NOT are posted. Both lists are constantly under revision, but currently the list of things she is NOT includes monkey, chicken, dinosaur, boogereater, princess (a recent revision; apparently she has abdicated the throne), good girl and stinkbug The list of things she IS? Mermaid. That's it for now. She's a minimalist.
Schuyler's brain is the place where she remembers that while no, she does not eat bugs, her mother apparently does, because if I ask her if she eats bugs, she says "Noooooo" and then either points to Julie or signs "mother" and laughs like it's the funniest joke ever, which it sort of is.
It's the computer that forgets to go to the bathroom when she gets overly excited (with predictably disastrous results) but remembers every morning as she's running down the hill at summer camp to turn and blow me a kiss, an act that should help to untie the knot in my stomach that I get when I leave her with other people, but doesn't, at all.
Schuyler's brain is is the thing that amazes us all with what it can do and breaks our hearts with the few things that it stubbornly refuses to do. It is the place where she runs through life as a little girl like every other little girl in the world, and the cage where she exists as an entirely unique creature, never alone and always alone.