The weekend before final exams Michael has made a tradition of inviting his college photography students over for dinner after spending time in the classroom critiquing their final projects. One group joins us on Saturday evening, the other on Sunday. This time, for his groups of omnivores, vegetarians and a few vegans, he spent the weekend afternoons grocery shopping and making killer white and red lasagnas. I pitched in salads and brownies with chocolate chips.

After putting Calvin to bed I managed to scrounge some of what was left over from a young, voracious crowd. I sat and chatted with the students about their art, their origins, what classes they are taking, what their major focus is, what professors they like (wouldn't some of you like to know) and how they see the world. They come from all over—Wyoming, Brooklyn, Bankok, Berkeley, Britain, Palo Alto, Switzerland. The students—I call them kids though they are really young adults—are smart, kind and thoughtful, well mannered and usually enjoy a good laugh. I do my best to clown it up for them. They also enjoy a good game, so after dessert Michael referees a Yankee swap where they battle each other in an effort to land their favorite classmates' photos.

Watching them interact and seeing the photographs they've taken, developed and printed, I saw glimpses of what our boy Calvin might have been like if whatever happened to his brain hadn't occurred. I looked into their eyes imagining Calvin as a college student.

might he have enjoyed lacrosse? would he have become a maker of films? might he have been a king of irony? would he have become an accomplished photographer? might he have traveled abroad and, if so, where? would he have been shy and reserved or rambunctious? would he have been like the kind and curious kid in the baseball cap who asked all about him? would he have excelled in his classes, made lots of friends, questioned authority, fallen in line, taken risks, felt like he didn't belong?

This morning, standing under a hot shower looking out the window into silver and trying to wash away my dark mood I thought about Calvin, his messed up brain and missed opportunities. Then, I remembered I am not alone. Patting my feet dry, imagining myself a monk, I thought about all of the other lost children. I thought of Lidia's Lily, Kyle's Rainier, Kris's Jennifer, Debbie's Kelli, Connie's Katie and Betty's Mike, of my friends and fellow swimmers Tom and Martin and Mikki and Kari, of little Ronan and Will and Sophie and Leland and Lindsey and Wendy's twins and Savannah and Olivia and George and Matthew and Charlie and Cyndimae and Cory and Kaylee and William and Margot and Addie and Kevin and Lisbeth and Sammy and Jacob Diego and so many more.

As a kaleidascope of these sweet faces swirled in my mind I realized how fortunate I am to know and love Calvin and for him to love me. I know how much my friends' parents doted—and still dote—on their children, whether having been born breathless or having been held only for minutes or hours, or having been robbed of so much because of a crash or an accident, a vaccination or a virus, a gene mutation or a fluke. We parents are not alone in our wish for a different outcome. We are not alone in our deep gratitude for knowing and having known our kids, though they'll never become athletes or scholars, travelers or writers, kings of irony or lovers of philosophy. Still, they are sages, and we see glimpses of them everywhere.


  1. Your wisdom is awe-inspiring, as painful as it is.

  2. Christie - it's all the same - this mom-love we feel - whether for a Calvin or a Rhodes Scholar. You inspire me and help me stay grounded in the truth of what love really is. thank you.