Yes, the older you get, the less you recognize that reflection in your iPhone, iPad or mirror. Is that because how we see ourselves in our mind is not really what reflects on that high grade iPhone glass or are we just are worst self critics? Perhaps it's just our old friend Denial playing tricks on us by replacing that high grade iPhone glass with some distorted, age advancing glass? I'm going with Denial...as I so often do.
Although I think Dan is remarkably handsome (and I love/hate him for it), it's not so much his "distinguished" looks that I envy most about my husband's reflection, it's his ability to see a fragment of our 13 year old son in himself when he looks in the mirror (Dan doesn't do selfies or iPhones so he only sees his reflection in mirrors). A son who I would give anything to resemble me in the slightest. A son who I have spent 13 years trying to understand, trying to "get". A son who someday when the iPhone 15 comes out and is able to capture what a person looks like on the inside, will look remarkably like my husband and nothing at all like me.
Ever since Ryan was little and I obsessed and Googled over does he or does he not have The A Word, Dan would shrug off my obsessive worry and tell me, "he's fine". The word "fine" started being almost as vulgar to me as those other two F words..."friends" and the one that rhymes with truck. How could Ryan be "fine"? He spent so much time alone, his sensory system was constantly on overdrive and even though he was completely verbal, he had very little to say. "Fine" was not what I saw, but, my husband did.
My huband saw "fine" because he saw Ryan each and every time he glanced in the mirror at his own reflection. Dan understands that an overloaded sensory system can make you edgy and crabby. He understands that a quiet night by his firepit with only the joyful singing of crickets buzzing in his ears is better than an overcrowded, loud party with multiple conversations buzzing in his ears. Dan also understands that just because you can speak, doesn't mean you have something to say. Mostly though, my husband understands Ryan, in a way I never will. When I realized this, when I understood that Dan would always have a connection with Ryan that I wouldn't, it kind of made me want to slap him in his distinguished looking 54 year old face.
On many occasions, the words, "he's fine Mama" would be followed by, "look at me, I'm fine" which made me want to slap that 8 years younger looking reflection again. I appreciated that Dan saw Ryan in his reflection, but, Ryan's reflection was still different, his struggles greater. Back when Denial and Clueless were still my best friends, I wanted to help Ryan "overcome" his autism. First step, a listening therapy program that cost about $6,000. Dan resisted for awhile because, "he's fine", but, eventually I wore Dan down. At the time it seemed like the therapy helped, and maybe it did, but, now years later, I can't help but wonder if Dan was right, that with or without the therapy, Ryan "is fine".
Just last week, when a painful friend experienced happened for Ryan, I found myself crying in Dan's arms and hearing those words again, "he's fine Mama". Dan assured me that Ryan is "finding his way" and although it has always taken him a bit longer than other kids his age, Ryan finds his way and he always seems to be "fine". Just like I hate that Dan doesn't look his age when I see his reflection in our shared bathroom mirror, I typically hate when he is right (because inevitably that means I am wrong), but, there is no hate, there is no cursing him under my breath, there is only a little bit of envy and a great deal of love and gratitude when it comes to seeing himself in his son.
It's fun to drag my husband into one of my selfies every now and then while he grumbles and complains about it. For him it may be ridiculous, narcissistic and trendy, but, for me, having his eight year younger looking face next to mine (still hate him a little) is a reminder of how much harder this autism journey would be on my own, without his reflection in my iPhone.