Despite the fact that eight years of raising Calvin has likely shaved a few years off of my life, in my mind, spirit and most parts of my body I still feel thirty-nine. But I woke up this morning entering my 50th year of life. And though my birthday starts with a head cold, a slightly sore shoulder and a middle a bit chubbier than at thirty-nine (but eating Frosty's donuts for breakfast anyway) from my perspective life still looks decently rosy.

That fact is a testament that we, as the refined humans we have evolved to be, are as resilient as shit, most of us able to handle the nasty curve-balls hurled our way at different times in our life. I'm not one to believe in the words I sometimes see and hear people quote, that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle, because if that were true why would some unfortunate souls off themselves? I am one to believe, however, that we can benefit from bad things that happen to us. We can find the generous pluses, for instance, amidst the scores of miserable minuses that a disabled child brings in the form of guilt, despair, anger, resentment, heartache, suffering, pain, sorrow, hopelessness, envy, frustration, doubt. My Calvin has brought me joy, love, patience, empathy and the rare chance to witness a life that, if it weren't for his physical pain, is as close to nirvana as any human might hope to get.

I have learned from Calvin how trivial material desires can be, how petty some quarrels are, and I am getting better at understanding how little it matters that he can't play on the Little League team, can't speak two languages, can't excel in math and science, can't work a computer, can't even trick-or-treat. Daily, I hear stories of children—and parents of those children—who deal with seizures or hunger or abuse far more heinous than Calvin's circumstance. And I think how grateful I am that Calvin is simply warm and dry and safe and happy and living with a forever-evolving forty-nine year old mom who feels ten years younger and is ready to take on the world, if not for herself, then for her son.

photo by Michael Kolster

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