I went to sleep with a smile on my face listening to the sound of faint laughter seeping through the crack I’d left in the bedroom window. Outside the trees were dripping, as if rain, in a soupy fog that had moistened the skin on my face and set blades of grass aglow in the twilight. I had left the boys, Michael, Charlie and Roger, under the light of lanterns, to head upstairs to bed. The three friends remained for a time in the refuge of the screen porch sipping from beers and bourbon between quips and guffaws, safe from the bite of bugs and the swoop of an occasional bat. After three goodnight hugs I stepped out onto the dewy lawn as Charlie joked, “Sleep well and good luck living with him.” We all laughed at Michael’s expense and he understood our love.

I had spent part of the day gardening under a dark sky in the dampness of a constant mist. Perfect gardening weather, I’d thought, as I dug up and relocated hostas, clipped spent peony buds and transplanted phlox. I take great care while pruning to achieve the ideal form of a plant or tree in relation to its neighbors, to its available space. By pruning I exert control over my garden. It’s my therapy, I tell people, a way to perfectly influence something since I cannot control my son’s condition, his seizures, and therefore cannot really control our lives to a great degree.

I think Charlie and Roger understand, at least to the extent that they can, not having disabled children of their own. It’s because they listen, they watch, they read. These friends of ours thankfully never give advice, never try to fix things, never try to tell us that Calvin is a gift or an angel or that things will get better. They just spend time with us when they can and in doing so bring great levity to a home riddled with anticonvulsant drugs and seizures and shrieks and falls and back-breaking lifts and sleep deprivation and endless dirty diapers and an often irritable, hyper kid who cannot tell us what is ailing him.

And so I closed my eyes and imagined the garden teaming with birds and buds and tender inches of impossibly green new growth that seemed to appear overnight. I closed my eyes to the warm light radiating from a porch nestled in the midst of a black Eden. I closed my eyes to the happy sounds of friends who love us dearly. And I closed my eyes to the rustle of Calvin sleeping peacefully in the next room, perhaps dreaming, though I know not of what.

photo by Michael Kolster

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