barking seals

The harbor seals kept me up last night, their barks flinching me back into rude consciousness each time I’d drift off to sleep. And so each time I felt the sharp stab of hearing Calvin start into one of his seizures, the cries he makes often sounding like a barking dog ... or a seal.

A few hours earlier, soaring at 34,000 feet, I’d found myself missing Calvin and thinking about what might have been—what should have been—if he’d been born healthy. I thought of the girls in Los Angeles and San Diego—dark haired beautiful sister-mermaids—who’ve been buried under perhaps as many seizures as the altitude in feet of this huge hunk of metal rocketing me west, the white noise of jet engines so numbing that I felt only sorrow and tears.

My brother Scott picked me up at the curb in his rental car. It’s always good to see him. I was weary so he shuttled me to my week’s long refuge at my brother Matt and his wife Stacey’s house on the hill just above San Diego harbor. Matt was putting mom to bed so we went in to say goodnight.

“Who’s this?” my brother asked as I leaned over my mother and gave her a hug.
“It’s my darling,” she replied. She wrapped her thin, wrinkled arms around me and I had a fleeting glimpse of a rare moment when she'd had her arms around Calvin.
“Want to say goodnight to Scott?” I asked.
“Well, okay,” she resigned, and we laughed at her nonchalance.

Mom fast asleep, the four of us hung out in the kitchen and talked about chocolate chip cookies, jokes about tapeworms, Grandma Shake’s staccato laugh, seedy motels, loud neighbors and Dad. After my brothers left, Stacey and I talked about Alzheimer's. Then I went upstairs to bed and found this email from Michael:

Calvin had a seizure just before dinner. 3 min. no breathing for first 1:30. Typical I guess.
Got meds in him, now sleeping.
All is ok here.

And not long after I crawled into bed and suffered the barking seals.

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