Originally published 8.9.11.
Yesterday was another hot muggy one but Calvin was doing pretty well considering I’d been suspecting a seizure since the day before. I had tried giving him a prophylactic increase of one of his drugs again in an effort to dodge what seems more and more to be the inevitable.
Just after lunch as I was holding Calvin’s hands I noticed that they seemed warm. I pressed my lips to his forehead, which felt the same. “Would you check his temp for me?” I asked the nurse as I was headed out. She did and found he was running a low-grade fever. She gave him some acetaminophen before he went down for his nap and by the time he woke up his temp was back to normal.
I figured it’d be a good thing for Calvin to lay low and relax—not do the perpetual marching around he usually does all day long—so I asked the nurse to bring Calvin and join Rudy and me for a walk just to keep cool. It had rained earlier so the breeze coming off of the dripping trees felt refreshing.
We strolled through the campus quad, crossed traffic then glided down the hill to Cote’s ice cream shack. Above us heavy dark clouds had begun to form. I ordered a scoop of pistachio on a sugar cone and a scoop of vanilla in a cup for Rudy—that one is always free. The rain began to fall sprinkling on Calvin’s bare legs and feet. He giggled with delight. It started coming down hard so we skittered across the street to a wooden bench nestled against the side of a shop and sheltered by its jutting roof. There we were safe and dry. Michael pulled up in the car to meet us and ate some of my ice cream cone then Rudy got the tip. The five of us lingered roadside chewing the fat and taking turns hugging Calvin, still secured in his stroller but fidgeting some, though relishing attention from his daddy.
Just as we were about to leave a group of elderly folk walked past. The last one, a slightly stooped man with thick waves of pure white covering his head and piercing blue eyes as vivid as his turquoise polo shirt, commented, “now there’s a handsome fellow,” pointing to Calvin. “Good thing he looks like me,” I said smiling. “I can see you’re his mother,” he grinned. He must have been a very dashing young man in his day, I thought, his features kind and striking. I wanted to touch his shoulder. “I’ve had my eye on him,” he added as he leaned in closer to my boy, and I figured he meant he’d been watching us from the car that he and his friends had just piled out of. The gentle man continued, “I’ve met lots of kids like—” and he cut himself short, changed direction, “he’s a big boy ... a little big boy.” I had an idea he was familiar with kids like Calvin. “Yes he is a little big boy,” I said as I turned to Michael in fond agreement seeing his eyes redden and wet like mine. “Yes he is.”
As the man and his friends crossed the street to get ice cream I watched. He limped up onto the sidewalk dragging one foot behind, kind of walking on its side. I said goodbye as we passed but he didn’t hear me, so without pause we kept on heading for home.
Later, after dinner and a second day of increased meds, Michael took Calvin out for a quick stroll around the house. The evening was gorgeous. I sat down at my laptop, briefly writing a few notes about the day, before joining them. Then from somewhere in the yard Michael yelled my name. I jumped up, knowing it meant Calvin was having a seizure out there. “Where are you?” I shouted, “where are you?” I ran out the front door then around the side of the house near the garage. I found Michael on the back step holding Calvin in his lap. He was ghostly pale with blue lips and patchy red spots on his cheeks, his body rigid and convulsing. I kissed his face and cradled his head in my palm. “I love you my little big boy, my poor little big boy.” And we held him tenderly until the storm was over.
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|photo by Michael kolster