imagine and dream

To have a child like Calvin, though he is loved beyond measure for who he is and who he is becoming and for his pure spirit and unconditional love, is forever punishing, particularly to see him suffer relentless seizures and setbacks, but also in the way his circumstance has imposed great limits on our family life and what we thought parenthood might be. It’s impossible not to wonder what the hell happened, and so we imagine, we dream.

Some have told me how unfair it all is, but what it really comes down to is the sorry truth that bad things just happen—and they happen to good people. Period. No ifs, ands, buts or whys. They just happen—no one to blame, no reason. It’s just the work of nature going about her business.

One of my very closest and dear friends had a beautiful, perfect baby girl who was stillborn. I say this with delicacy, knowing in the core of my being that no words can describe that kind of pain and loss. She had the same name as an elegant, aromatic flower. With eyes closed I have imagined this precious child time and again—flawless fair skin, supple body, shining wavy silver-gold hair shimmering in the breeze, a buttercup glowing under her chin—an exquisite child to behold and mirroring all of her mother’s extraordinarily beautiful features. She will be with her mother always.

Another friend and her husband suffered the same pain, their daughter lost to them at birth and also named after an elegant, fragrant flower. I have dreamt of her as well, lovely and glowing, cocoa eyes trimmed with dark eyelashes, full lips and thick wild ringlets of mahogany cascading over her shoulders like a waterfall, she holds a seashell to her ear, wide-eyed. She lives on in her parents and her brothers, too.

And yet another, a son, tiny and frail born long before he was ready to withstand the world but amazing, beautiful and loved—held for a moment in his father's strong and gentle arms. In my imagination I can see him, in spring, turning somersaults down a wildflower encrusted hillside on the majestic mountain he was named after.

In my mind I also imagine Calvin, in another world—another time—his thick auburn locks ruffled by the wind, lithe bronze limbs carrying him bounding across a meadow, grasshoppers springing up like jack-in-the-boxes as he pounces on one, cups it in his small hands and then opens them to proudly reveal his surprise. It jumps out, never to be caught again—these images and dreams of Calvin, of our sons and daughters, never to be let go.

photo by Michael Kolster

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