almost perfect day

Sunday was, by my revised definition, an almost perfect day. Almost.

We decided to take a drive because what else is there to do on a cold, windy, icy day with Calvin? I put a lunch together and we headed out on small back roads, past acres of golden pastures fenced in white leading to the Pineland Farms market. Hand-in-hand, Calvin walked quite well with us across the parking lot. Inside the store, his harness tightly in my grasp, he careened down aisles trying to mouth glass meat cases and wooden bakery shelves. Michael picked out a couple of micro brews and a large coffee. “I’ll take Calvin while you go pay, then you take Calvin while I go pee,” I said jovially, as I supported our teetering child, ever minding his giggling bauble head at each corner.

Sometimes when I’m with Calvin I feel like a contestant on one of those stupid game shows where competitors have to carry an egg under their chins or a tray of wine glasses on their heads while performing some other impossible task, hands tied. Never do I have both hands free when I’m with Calvin, unless Michael comes along.

The sunny drive home was warm and pleasant. Since the addition of this third anticonvulsant drug Calvin has seemed to have given up screaming bloody murder in the car and I only had to foil three attempts of staring at the sun. It was mild outside and we passed a group of little kids playing tag-ball in their melting driveway. I half smiled.

By the time we rolled back into town it was lunchtime so we decided to try our luck at eating in public, something we almost never do with Calvin. Once inside the deli, with some effort we wrestled him into a high chair. His small frame appeared giant compared with the infant seated across the room craning her little bird neck to gawk at our shrieking, flapping eight-year-old. Calvin ate his entire lunch, happily, while Michael and I shared bites of a delicious egg-bacon-cheese-tomato-lettuce-mayo-on-toasted-pumpernickel sandwich.

But we had to ditch the joint when Calvin’s flailing and screeching became too much. And his diaper had leaked. So Michael scooped him up, we thanked our cooks and I gathered our things. As Michael buckled Calvin into the car he asked if I’d seen the woman sitting behind me in the deli. I hadn’t. “She gave us a big smile as we left,” he said, and I wondered if he might be tearing up. I wished I’d seen her too.

At home the rest of the day was just as good. We took Rudy for a walk. Again hand-in-hand Calvin walked—willingly—over two blocks toward our destination, a HUGE accomplishment and something he’s never done before. Once there he traipsed happy circles on the AstroTurf, seemingly chasing our shadow, while Rudy fetched a lacrosse ball in the sun.

Back home Michael built a fire and while Calvin played in his johnny-jump-up we watched the remainder of Sunset Blvd. Calvin enjoyed his bath, walked up and down the stairs virtually by himself, gave us tons of hugs and kisses, ate all of his dinner and went to sleep easily. In recounting the day’s events, a smile on my face, I said to Michael, “that was almost a perfect day.” Almost.

If only Calvin didn’t have seizures, didn’t have to take drugs, wasn’t missing that swath of white matter in his brain. If only he could walk by himself, didn’t need to wear diapers and could dress himself. If only he could sit in a chair, read a menu, pick out what he wants to eat and order it. If only he could manage holding a burger, dip fries into ketchup and wipe off his own face. If only he could drink from an open cup and put it back on the table. If only he could converse with his father and me, laugh at jokes and tell us stories. If only he could run and play outside with other kids as I watch from the kitchen window. If only he could walk his dog and do all the other things that most eight-year-olds can do. Then it would—most certainly—have been a perfect day.

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photo by Michael Kolster

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