coffee shop chaos

It amazes me how screaming at the top of my lungs just once can make my throat hurt for hours, as it does now.

Most weekends we go for lattes at the coffee shop in the next town over. They know us there and we usually enjoy sitting on a couch with Calvin between us or prop him up on the coffee table facing us while I feed him his snack. Today all the couches were taken so we did our best to sit at a small, round table, one of us on each side of Calvin to spot him. He enjoyed eating his snack, though insisted on arching back and careening to the side, banging the table and trying to bite it. Seldom do we ever truly relax at coffee as we are constantly doing damage control, making sure he doesn't fall, choke on a bit of food, break his teeth—like he did the other day—or grab Michael's piping hot coffee. Even so, it is a change of scenery in a place where we feel safe. But today our visit was brief.

Eventually, the cumulative frustration over trying to avoid an accident that is waiting to happen (by definition, Calvin) gets the best of me. The constant irritants—sleep deprivation, seizure worry, drug protocol hassles, spoon feedings, his persistent biting, his perpetual imbalance, his screeching and flailing on the changing table and in his high chair, the endless dirty diapers that ooze out the front, back and sides—catches up with me and I have to let it all out. Today was one of those days.

And so, having heard my indoor scream from our driveway, Michael came inside to relieve me, told me to get out of Dodge, perhaps take Rudy for a walk. I gladly obliged.

Gusts barely above freezing whipped and lashed at my cheeks as I tugged Rudy along. Tears sopped into my furry scarf and through them I watched my octogenarian friend, Woody, approach on the icy sidewalk. He asked how I was doing. "Not too good," I replied, and he could see that I was crying. We stood in the sun on the sidewalk, squinting from the glaring snow. I told him my frustrations and he took a folded tissue out of his pocket and dabbed away my tears. It wasn't the first time he'd consoled me when I'd succumbed to grief, frustration and loss over Calvin. And I'd consoled him after his wife died two years ago, been checking in on him every few days since then, been walking Rudy with him, eating the foil wrapped chocolates he keeps in a purple jar on his kitchen buffet, befriending his cats.

After my lamentations ebbed, Woody wiped away my last tear and Rudy and I went on our way. It wasn't a brisk walk, but it did me good. I didn't mind my frozen knees, peeking out between my long down coat and tall boots, spared from the cold by only a layer of close denim. I tucked my chin down to my chest and headed into the bitter wind—my tears dry, the sun on my back, Rudy at my side, and Calvin and Michael waiting for me at home.


  1. Isn't it amazing how wise elderly people can be sometimes. I refrained from telling my great aunt about my brain surgery until it was comfortably behind me and I could tell her in one quick sentence that I was much better, my health was much better and could leave out the part about missing half of one of my temporal lobes. When I told her six months later she was 95. She was sitting in her wheelchair and kind of nodded but didn't respond too extremely. I was relieved. When my family had left to get the car and I was doing "watch Aunt Sis duty" she turned her head to me and said, "I know you went through a lot of pain at times. I am so happy for you. You seem so much *clearer* now." She said it so perfectly; so succinctly. And she was right, I did. I have generally found that young people, my age-ish and old people have had that insight whereas middle-aged folks are too busy to notice. Thank God for old people--they can keep us sane through all this craziness.

  2. looks like you did not get that coffee and chill maybe next time ehh.

  3. My heart goes out to you, Dear Christie, I am glad your friend was there for you.
    Take care.

  4. My daughter doesn't have medical problems, just developmental delay, but I know that feeling. The feeling that you could just crack wide open at any time, that you would shatter into a million tiny pieces.