who would you be?

My sister was in town helping me take care of Calvin during Michael's stay at an artists’ residency. She washed the dishes, vacuumed the entire house—twice—fed Rudy and Neko and Calvin and—a self-proclaimed non-cook—she even made me dinner. She was the extra pair of hawkish eyes and deft hands that are near essential in caring for Calvin without having to sequester him to the johnny-jump-up or the high chair just to get anything done. We hadn’t spent this much alone-time together since just after I graduated from college when I lived with her in her tiny one-bedroom apartment the final year of working on her doctorate.

The other night, after a very rough and worrisome time feeding Calvin dinner as he screamed and raved like a lunatic (seizure brewing? yes) and passionately yanked my hair, scratched my ears, head-butted me and kicked my legs, we finally put a drowsy, drugged-up kid to bed. It felt nice retreating to a warm rolling fire to talk, a couple of glasses of wine in our hands—mine red, hers white with five floating ice cubes.

“If you could be anyone you wanted, who would you be?” she asked. I paused for a long moment pondering the question, my denim-clad legs backed up to the fire. I discounted the notion of actor because of their lack of privacy, discarded the idea of accomplished musician because of their demanding tour dates, rejected the choice of professional athlete because of their intense game schedules and brevity of career. She reminded me to choose a specific person rather than a mere profession. “So, who would you be?” I asked. Her answer was quick and obviously well thought out, “Jacques Cousteau.”

She went on to explain her choice, embellishing on the adventurous nature of Jacques Cousteau’s life work undersea, his exotic travel and the good that his research has done for the world. I considered my choice further and figured I'd enjoy being some sort of accomplished artist such as Damien Hirst. Perhaps I’d be a famous photographer like Fran Lebowitz (as long as I didn’t have to think too hard about how to take a good picture) or maybe an author like Stephen King or Emily Dickinson (though she had epilepsy) or some other accomplished writer. But I’d also want to be a philanthropist, someone who’d promote the welfare of others like Eunice Kennedy Shriver. In the end, I never landed on a specific person who I’d chose to be if I could, and our conversation flowed to the next topic.

After a couple of hours bantering the embers dissolved to an orange-white glow. I bid goodnight to my sister and headed upstairs. Rudy the dog joined me just as I plucked a meowing Neko out of Calvin’s bed. I brought her into my room where she snuggled with Rudy on the floor.

Pulling the covers over me while gazing out the window at the swaying pines I realized who it was I’d like to be if I could. Me, I thought, I am a writer and a philanthropist of sorts. And like my sister and I had discussed earlier, in some strange way because of life with my crazy, disabled, seizure-racked, drugged-up, affectionate kid, my life is rich and beautiful in ways I never could have imagined (though to be sure, I'd choose for Calvin to be healthy.)

I closed my eyes with a sigh, my body melting into peaceful sleep with Rudy, Neko and Calvin nearby, Caron in the next room and Michael not too far away.

My sister Caron with Calvin

1 comment:

  1. Christy,

    Spending time with you, Calvin, Rudy, and Neko was a mixture of delight, sadness, anxiety, and much laughter. But most of all it was insightful about epilepsy and how it has altered your life. Keep up the good work on epilepsy awareness!