earth day

On this, Earth Day, as I look outside my rain splattered windows, the bark of trees blackened with wetness, the green leaves shiny and slick with a smattering of pink, white and purple flowers, I am reminded that there are few things in this world that give me as much joy as gardening, as working with the earth.

I come by this bliss naturally ... from my father and perhaps from his parents and before. Together we tended his vegetable garden sporting rake, shovel and hoe, trowel and hose. My little hands swam in an unmatched pair of ratty suede gloves. It seemed to me that Dad stood nearly twice my height and stooping for long periods ached his back. He’d straighten himself up, satisfyingly arch and turn his face toward the sky. Together we pruned and planted and weeded and watered and harvested. He’d pat me on the back then rest his hand on my shoulder. Sometimes he’d say, “You know I love you, don’t you, kid?” Those were sublime moments—the two of us drinking up what the earth had to offer.

Sadly, my eight-year-old son Calvin can’t help me in the garden. The drugs he has to take for his epilespy—along with the seizures themselves—have stagnated his development, have left him in a virtual limbo somewhere between infant and toddler. He wilts in the sun while simultaneously staring straight at it instead of looking where he is going. Without Mama at the helm, he’s liable to run straight into a shrub or tree. I’ve been thinking of outfitting him with helmet, face guard, knee-pads, elbow-pads and wrist-pads and letting him stumble around the yard as I play interference. I’ll still have to remain close by to ensure he doesn’t step into an errant Rudy bomb, crash into a rock wall or try to devour a pine cone.

And even though we won’t be working the earth together like my father and I did, on sunny days Calvin and I can still snuggle in the soft grass under blue skies and billowy clouds or in the shade of a leafy tree and—like I did with my dad—find contentment in simply being together on this most beautiful place we call earth.

Please share Calvin's story and help bring us one step closer to a cure for epilepsy.
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Dad picking raspberries in his garden


  1. This is a really beautiful connection. I was also thinking about Earth Day in relation to my seizures today. I spent part of my day romping around on the quad in my Birkenstocks, celebrating the Spring. It was so beautiful! Sometimes my relationship with epilepsy puts me in a strange limbo. I feel like I am in such a privileged position to be able to spend my day studying and frolicking. Yet, epilepsy has definitely left its mark on me-- having to endure hallucinating someone chasing me during seizures and then coming out of them time and again thinking I was going to die (my seizure focus was right around my amygdala, which monitors fight or flight). Or last year having to make the decision to have neurosurgery when I wanted so badly for my consciousness (minus the seizures) to stay the same. And it seems neither fair that I can do what so many others with epilepsy are not able to nor that I am restrained in so many ways that my friends aren't. It makes you wonder--is anything more in balance than Earth Day in the Hudson Valley?

  2. dear anonymous,
    thank you so much for writing. i am wondering if you might mind if i use your comments in a blog post at some point. very vivid imagery and an interesting perspective to say the least. i hope you are enjoying seizure freedom.

  3. Dear Christy,
    Of course, that is totally fine! I am another of Dr. Thiele's patients (I found out about your blog from the facebook group, where Christina posted it...) I have loved reading your blog--you maintain such a beautiful style when talking about such difficult experiences. Take care and give Calvin a hug for me.
    P.S. if you are interested in talking/meeting up in the Boston area over the summer, I'm always interesting in hearing other people's experiences...

  4. thank you julianna. please feel free to share calvin's story with the world. our trips to boston are fleeting. we go and return within a few hours, never lingering, just wanting to be at home where taking care of calvin is easy. there will be a CURE benefit in boston in september that i'll be attending. perhaps we can meet then! xo, christy