Yesterday morning, Roman devoured a few pieces of banana bread by the fireplace and after I finished making coffee, I noticed him leaning over and placing his ear to the floor. I was reminded of stories and Hollywood westerns that portrayed Native Americans listening to the ground or train rails to gauge the distance of approaching danger. I said, “Roman, what do you hear?” He pensively replied, “I think I hear a snowplow!”

Roman has always had bionic hearing. I recall sitting in one of our countless appointments for developmental testing with Roman at a very early age. He suddenly appeared startled and pointed to the ceiling at a barely audible plane flying high above the building, and later at a nearly imperceptible sound of the air conditioning system. Too many signals causing noise and distractions.

Our house faces a fairly busy road - and with every snowstorm - the snowplows sound like trains rambling by, their massive plow blades and big wheels rattling the windows in our house. For Roman, this thundering noise would not suggest danger. It induces the finger pinching and foot tapping euphoria of watching his favorite program, Mighty Machines. For him, it must be like watching one of his plastic Playmobil trucks or cranes come to life.

Watching Roman yesterday reminded me of a scene in the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild, where the main character, a little girl named Hushpuppy, gently places her ear to the chests of small animals to listen to their heartbeats. She says: “The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece... the entire universe will get busted.”

So many daily distractions interrupt us and pull us from our thoughts and experiences. Sometimes, I feel like maybe we are the aliens; utterly disconnected from understanding how to be in our world. But when it comes to Roman, there are times when I feel I’m trying to connect without understanding his world. Many infinitesimal moments with him stop me like quiet snow - he has that ability to draw me away from my world. He is tuned differently and I’m constantly seeking to hear him more clearly.


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