In his college photography classes, my husband Michael often talks about perception, about the way our experiences shape our view of the world and how it is difficult—perhaps impossible—to regard a circumstance, or a thing, without bias seeping in from our past.

Perception is strange, I mean in the way one thing reminds us of another at any given moment. Perhaps, while strolling up a brick sidewalk, the back of a man’s head might make us think of our brother. At times, from afar, I’ll spot a tall skinny bald guy with a daddy-long-leg stride who, until I get closer, I could swear was a reincarnation of my dad. Or, on winter days, when mist hangs low over the road and neighbors are stoking their fireplaces, heavy smoke trailing into my nostrils, I am transported to a street corner vendor roasting chestnuts in downtown Manhattan. Sometimes a particular bend in a road, or the narrow arching of its mossy trees, will take me back to a winding stretch along the Bolinas Ridge just north of San Francisco, and then—as abruptly—I am jolted by the passing of a gold and green wedge of salt marsh that brings me back to Maine.

There’s a public house in the heart of our town that Michael and I like to frequent when we’ve got someone to watch Calvin—the joint with the awesome cheesy fries. We went there when it first opened and met a nice fellow behind the bar named Shane. To me, Shane is the perfect blend of my high school best friend, John, and one of my favorite actors, John Turturro. His mannerisms are uncannily like my friend’s—as if a clone—the approving nod of his head, the “yep” of his accompanying reply, his posture, even his voice and the way he leans on the counter. All these things, happily, remind me of John.

At ten, when I jumped out of a swing I broke my wrist. My oldest brother took me to the hospital where they fitted me with a cast. After that, people with plaster cast appendages seemed to come out of the woodwork, not unlike when I was pregnant with Calvin and, suddenly, I saw ripe, gravid women everywhere. Now, raising a child with cerebral palsy, pervasive developmental disorder and intractable epilepsy, I have special radar that can spot children like Calvin at a hundred yards. I usually elbow Michael and say, “do you see that kid?” and we both smile, as if members of some secret order.

Usually, these reminders and impressions sink warmly—satisfyingly—into my bones. They bring me back to a place of contentment, like feeling the weight of a favorite blanket, my feet tucked beneath me with a hot mug of coffee in my palm, or the taste of red wine shared with an old friend, or the familiar air of my childhood kitchen, Dad leaning over a big bubbling pot of his chunky, homemade cinnamon applesauce.

One perception—reminder—that I would gladly lose is the way the shadowed lattice of winter branches, or lightening bolts shattering black storms, or the crooked fractures in an icy puddle, or even a web of holiday lights strung on a tree—especially the blinking ones—remind me of Calvin’s seizures, of the spontaneous, uncontrollable electrical currents that ravage his neuropathways, that singe the tiny capillaries in his little brain until they're dry and brittle as a twig—or worse—dead.

But I suppose these reminders serve some purpose, shaping me, informing me, keeping me on a steady course of tireless advocacy in search of a cure for that which afflicts Calvin so horribly—epilepsy—for which I hold a deep and bitter prejudice against, and always will, based on my perceptions as Calvin’s loving mother. But luckily, because all things in life inspire me, I can still find these images in nature beautiful, when I can find a way to forget the seizures, if even for a moment.

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