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There is a theory that newborn babies stare into their mother's face as a sort of mirror, which helps them form a self. In that mirror of their mother's gaze, the infant is assembling a reality, a landscape of feelings. It occurs to me that when we are leaving this world, something similar, and just as intricate, may also be happening in the long exchanges of looks.
Once, nearly a year ago, I whispered to my father, "I'm here now. I'm not leaving." So much of our history is pockmarked with my absences. I've missed birthdays when "happy" was still an appropriate word to toss around. I've missed many things; it's the knotted chain I sometimes hear clattering behind me. My whispered declaration was followed by a long look between us, and a quiet knowing took shape in that silence. I have never repeated those words to him. I don't need to. He knows.
Patti Davis is the author of The Way I See It: An Autobiography and several other books