From behind, I watch Michael pin them on their backs while stabbing them each through the head. For a moment, they squirm as he draws the knife into the belly of their shells and through their firm white flesh. Then, he gathers fresh chives from the garden while I make a salad slicing in a handful of yellow, orange and red tomatoes from our neighbor’s garden.

I ask if it bothers him to kill them like that. “You gotta kill them anyway,” he replies, and I imagine the familiar rattling lid atop a steaming pot of lobsters—lobsters that have been randomly plucked from the frigid Maine waters, perhaps having not yet reached their full potential.

And then, for whatever reason, I think of Calvin who at some point in his development ended up missing a significant amount of the white matter in his brain, and thus will end up missing every milestone never reaching his full potential as a boy or as a man.

My mind segues into the questions I often ask myself: what might happen if Calvin dies before reaching puberty or adulthood? succumbing to epilepsy’s prolonged and lethal seizures. What if we’ll one day wake to find him still and cold? a victim of SUDEP (sudden unexplained death in epilepsy.) I wonder if, in that case, I’ll feel twice robbed, first having a child born with so many afflictions, and second if he dies early. Would it all feel such a colossal waste? having been so goddamn hypervigilant about his health, his safety, his various therapies for growth and development and seizure control—watching each step, minding every corner, suffering each seizure, counting each pill, logging every shit, grieving every loss, fretting every procedure, enduring day after monotonous day of a life that often feels like it’s going nowhere fast.

Sometimes I study his perfect little body, his willowy muscles, long slender fingers, soft belly, mild facial features and I think of all the potential he might have once had ... before his brain went wrong, before the seizures took hold, before the drugs sunk in.

In the cool dark of the screen porch I pull a lantern close to my plate which cradles a baked lobster. I pierce its flesh with my fork bringing it to my lips, a curling ribbon of steam in its wake. The morsel, crowned in buttery panko crumbs, melts deliciously in my mouth. Then I crack the claws with my hands and lick the brine from my fingers one by one, thinking that the lobster’s potential having been—in some strange way—met.

After dinner I stand for a time in the darkness of the back yard with Rudy. I search the night sky for any familiar constellations—Cassiopeia, Orion, the Big Dipper—though I find none. But I catch a shooting star whose trace is fleeting, abbreviated. But it doesn’t matter. It is beautiful anyway. The glitter up there makes me think about how all that star dust lives in me and in Calvin who sleeps soundly under their canopy. And then I realize that every day my boy meets his potential simply by being, by loving and accepting of love and by living in the moment, shining brightly like that shooting star—however brief—or like that bit of warm lobster resting on my tongue.

photo by Michael Kolster


  1. Oh, Christy....I'm so glad you reached that conclusion! Of course Calvin has that value--just as each one of us has it. Humanity demands it, and even if there are some bad apples out there, we have to believe this simple and profound truth. Whether we are tall, short, smart, not-so-smart, perfect physical specimens or inadequate specimens, or any other alternatives, we are human beings with core value. Bless you, Calvin!

  2. Thank you for your honesty, for the admission that this life can feel monotonous as I, too, daily log my abbreviations - BM, GM, S with parentheses around a number, and P - a new one, for period. I am a step-mother to this, and I am greatly comforted that a mother has these same feelings and I'm sure more. I have wanted to start my own blog as yours has helped comfort me. While you advocate for your son, you advocate for the caretaker. Thank you for your writing.