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  • Most children are great at observing the world around them: it's shapes and colors, its noises, fashions and trends. They can point out an outdated pair of jeans or identify the coolest new gadget: they are masters at sight. As they age, they lose that ability. They need the help of glasses and contact lenses to glimpse the nature of things, they need magazines and news programs to tell them about quality, they slowly forget how to see. What they do gain, with every age spot and wrinkle, is the ability to spot what is invisible, to see the spaces between things.

    The first major holiday after my grandmother passed away, the family was gathered around the table. There may have been a turkey involved, and all the kids were eyeballing the bird with an excited hunger. They were talking about the holiday presents they were hoping to get later that year, and whether there would be snow. The room was, as is normal for our family, loud, and the array of smells and faces and utensils carving through food, dizzying. This is when Danny turned to me and whispered, "I miss Zina." His eyes were fixed on a point in the distance, on the chair where she used to sit. It was 2008 and Danny was only eight years old.

    That was when I really noticed Danny's ability to see the invisble: to spot the silences in conversation, the people who were missing. It was then that I began to appreciate his maturity, and his wisdom. It's the sort of trait that comes from a sensitvity to the world and the people in it -- to the way people feel and the thoughts they think. And it encourages a curiosity, a deep want for answers. Danny sees not what is right in front of him, but what isn't. He wants to know the things, understanding how much is still unknown to him. He loves to ask questions and question the world. Last year, he wrote a few poems for school, and they were unwittingly profound. I even envied, a little, his ability to see the fabric of the universe at so young an age, to understand what was wonderful about it, and what was sad.

    Danny loves to laugh. He has a wonderful sense of humor -- he always makes us smile. He's funny and silly and smart. Sometimes, it takes him a little while to figure something out -- when we play charades (a family tradition), he's never right of the gate with a brilliant mime...but if he's allowed a few minutes to process his task and come up with something, he'll act out the word in not only the best, but the most creative, unexpected way possible. He's crafty and innovative, something that probably comes from seeing the white paper, not just the lines others have drawn.
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