it takes a village

They must have somehow had Calvin in mind when they said, “it takes a village to raise a child.” For the past nearly three weeks since Michael has been gone I have seen proof that the proverb rings true. You see with Calvin, who not only has epilepsy but is completely hands-on and in many ways like an infant-toddler though he is eight, most any task is nearly impossible without a second set of eyes, ears and hands.

For the first eight days after Michael’s departure my sister joined me from San Diego. She helped me from soup to nuts and then some. A few days later my friend Akiko flew in from New York and aided me with more of the same ... kept me fed, kept me sane, kept me out of trouble.

Since Akiko’s departure last Monday, and particularly since I haven’t had a nurse to help these past few days while Calvin’s been out of school, it has been a bit—shall I say—monotonous, taxing, draining, frustrating and, at times, lonely.

Luckily, my friend Sarah came by for dinner the other night ... Jacob’s mom. She and I share many things in common aside from our (for lack of a better word) disabled or “special needs” boys. Simply put, she gets me. It’s like we live parallel universes: same worries, same struggles, same triumphs (when they happen.) For the good part of four hours we gassed on over a smorgasbord of delectables that she bestowed upon us—pâté, three cheeses, Greek olives, prosciutto, roasted peppers, pickled artichoke hearts, bread and crackers and wine—until I felt a sublime weariness sink into my eyeballs.

The next day my friend Jerry brought me a homemade mini pear tart and Barry dropped off an almond croissant, both just to let me know they were thinking about me while I was flying solo. Maura left a jar of homemade greens and lentils behind the door and my friend Matt checked in by phone just to make sure there wasn’t something I might need. He pretty much does that every time Michael is away.

Late yesterday morning under sunny skies I took Rudy and Calvin for a walk. Calvin rode in the stroller most of the way but got out to stomp around aimlessly—his hand or harness in mine—through a thin stand of trees flanking the college Astroturf field. He seemed to enjoy touching the netted barrier at the end of the field, feeling the coarse gravel under his feet, and exploring the vast and endless aerated lawns. Once home, I left him in the stroller while I watered the thirsty plants withering in this bone-dry Maine spring. Calvin kept craning his neck to stare at the sun then yanked off his glasses and lunged so far to one side so as to nearly topple the stroller over completely. All the while the damn hose kept kinking. Angrily, I dropped the F-bomb—twice and hard—cursed at poor Rudy for wandering into the neighbor’s yard and, regrettably, had to abandon the watering. Hoisting Calvin out of the stroller I glanced at two young boys passing by. One, who couldn’t have been much older than Calvin, was tossing a ball in the air and catching it as he ambled up the street. The boys were busy chatting, their sneakers happily slapping the pavement in unison. Frustration and torment set my eyes afire and stinging until tears welled up and gushed over my screwed up face. I saw life with Calvin flash before my watery eyes, a life that barely moves most of the time and, pressing my moist lids, I wished for him and for me that he could be that boy.

But just as we passed the threshold the phone rang. It was my friend Maura checking in on me again. It was clear that she could sense the dismay in my voice and knowing that shattered me further. Silently, she listened to me sob and grieve, then she gently validated my frustration, hardship, despair and loss. I slowly regained my composure and thanked her for the greens and lentils she’d dropped by earlier. She stopped by today with a few groceries and to help be my second pair of eyes.

Not long after Maura’s call, Lucretia came by, looking all cute in her dirty canvas pants and worn out old Converse sneakers. She—who has four kids of her own—started a load of laundry, folded a mound of clean clothes that had been staring me in the face for two days and walked Calvin around the yard while I finished watering the plants.

Then Meggan visited with her sweet little Nola. It felt so nice to have their company. She got out the stroller and took Rudy by the leash, rendering me hands-free to do damage control with Calvin as we strolled. By this time I was feeling nearly one hundred percent better.

Today, as Maura was leaving John brought pizza and kept me company on a nice drive to Harpswell. Then for dinner I get to enjoy homemade sushi hand rolls a la Luke and Sarah. On Sunday Lucretia and Meggan, and perhaps even Jen, might stop in again and then on Monday Michael comes home.

Like I said, it takes a village to raise a child ... especially one like Calvin. And because of this wonderful village, I think that I’ll survive.

Just a few of my village peeps


  1. Sending blessings for your friends. How wonderful they are!

    RR Julia

  2. What a wonderful village you have! The knowledge inside you that you are never truly alone has to be a source of strength! Keep it in your heart, Christy!