With Nellie at my side I stroll down the knotted sidewalk crushing every intact acorn I come across. Crunching them under my boots feels satisfying, especially if I can get my heel into them solidly and splay their shells in one sharp crack. We head toward the athletic fields, where I hope to let her run free and safe from traffic, but as we round the corner we are met by throngs of sports fans, and I know I must keep her on the leash.

We get lost in a scrum of runners in short shorts, t-shirts and tanks, coaches in ball caps and interested spectators, some with cameras and a few with dogs on leashes. Students from various colleges are ringing cowbells and blowing kazoos as the young athletes sprint between yellow ropes and orange cones toward a finish line painted in the grass.

Suddenly, I am trapped on the bank beside a stream of runners, their steely legs and lungs pumping, their cheeks flushed, hair tousled. A sharp twinge of sadness and loss thickens my throat. I can’t hold back the tears knowing I’ll never watch my son perform brilliant physical feats like this—the athlete in me selfishly, achingly wanting an athlete in my son. I realize I have nothing to do with these people, these proud students, beaming parents and coaches. Every year the students come here to run. Every year I see them. Every year I feel the sting.

I take Nellie home the back way, through the field behind our house that boasts the college’s beautiful organic garden and its chem-free dorm. Three female students huddle outside the renovated building lighting up cigarettes and I wonder why such smart kids—young adults, really—make such stupid choices to smoke. As I watch them take drags between their thin fingers I wonder, now that they’ve started, if they’ll ever be able to quit. Then I wonder what chemical-free actually means. Then I think about my ten-year-old son who has never in his life been chem-free, though not by choice, and as the students inhale and cough, I feel annoyed. But then I feel a surge in my impulse to get Calvin there—chem-free—at least from pharmaceuticals.

The following day, on 50% less benzodiazepine than he's been on for years, Calvin walks further than he's ever walked in our neighborhood: in all, a good part of a mile. He's making such strides! Hand in hand we pass some of the college students. The handsome young men greet us with smiles and ask us how we are doing while the women, most of them, avert their eyes. I wonder which ones are runners, which ones are swimmers and I wonder if they, or their parents, know how lucky they are.

If you cannot view this video you can watch it on You Tube by clicking here.

Calvin learning to walk at 2 1/2 years. He was already taking a high dose of Keppra which still didn't keep his seizures at bay.

1 comment:

  1. I am so happy to learn that your long, hard slog is getting somewhere. Keep it up, Christy...and also keep up your work on the book. What you write is so well written. It will be a winner!