My sister-in-law called me a couple of weeks ago, as she does on occasion, just to check in and see how we’re doing. She asked after Calvin and I told her he seemed to be having only slightly fewer seizures but, all in all, was doing pretty well. I went on to say that, although Calvin is generally happy—easily brought to euphoric giggles and grins when we nuzzle our faces into his neck, press our lips to his cheeks, wrap our arms tightly around him—that once in a great while when I'm running low on steam—and I know this might sound crass—I feel raising him is in ways like raising a farm animal or a dog: you feed them, you tend to them when they are sick, you clean up after their messes, you make sure they get regular exercise—you know, take them out for walks—and, although they might understand a few simple commands, you can’t bring them anywhere.

She listened intently. I continued, adding that although I have long since given up any grave concern over his missed milestones—Calvin’s developmental gap ever widening with each passing year as he continues to engage in the same activities with nearly the identical skill as he did when he was two or three—that I experience limited joy in the daily life of raising Calvin. Our days are monotony punctuated with a sprinkle of warm cozy snuggles for which I am incredibly thankful.

The only thing that came out of my sister-in-law’s mouth was, “I’m sorry.” I couldn’t have asked for a better gift from her. She didn’t try to tell me things would get better. She didn’t persuade me to look at the bright side. She didn’t try to say it wasn’t so. She didn’t exclaim, “everything happens for a reason.” She simply listened and said she was sorry. In doing so she totally validated my regret, and I am completely grateful, for I knew she understood that my love for Calvin runs deep and solid as an aquifer—that the two feelings of mine could rightfully, naturally coexist.

We finished our conversation with I love yous. I hung up the phone and went back to preparing Calvin’s dinner, drew up his pink liquid medicine in a syringe, cut his pills and began feeding him. I cleaned him up, brushed his teeth then Michael took over the nightly routine of walking Calvin’s burps out before changing his diaper and putting him to bed. I poured myself a glass of wine and with it I retreated to my garden sanctuary hoping to bring back some semblance of self, while waiting anxiously for Michael to join me.

Tomorrow will likely be another day just like today, just like yesterday ... and the day before that ... and the day before that. But as I reread what I have written, I realize that perhaps, in the same way I push Calvin to step outside of his comfort zone in order to make strides, I need to do more of the same myself in an effort to put an end to the monotony. Or just dive into a few more tickle-fests than usual.

1 comment:

  1. Christy: reading this in Boston, giving me a lot to think about: about the blessings and burdens of time, how we weigh them all. A lovely and honest post. Thanks. -- Matt