It's Sunday, the clock just struck half past six in the morning and already I'm wishing it were seven p.m., wishing Calvin were snug in bed while we eat dinner with tonight's dear guest, Charlie. It's day seven and Calvin seems to be ramping up to his next seizure. I can tell by his high-pitch screeching and hypercough and the way he is mauling me, scratching my neck and pulling my hair as if to tell me what I know some verbal children with epilepsy say to their mothers as their seizures loom: Mama, make it stop!

I not only worry and despair over my son, but simultaneously feel strong notions of disgust at his manic vocalizations and spastic outbursts, which can endure for hours if not days. These emotions of mine are muddled together with a gnawing sense of guilt that he is the way he is because of something I might have done, even if only the mere fact that I am his mother. Add to the mix pangs of remorse for having not steered him away from the sippy cup he tripped on the other day injuring his foot, and the anger and fear I feel about the benzodiazepine we are trying to wean him from.

In these exasperating moments, which occur often, I must take refuge or I'll lose my cool, which isn't really a cool but rather a silent tension strung through my body, stitching ugly furls into my brow and, like a piano wire, if struck too hard might just snap.

Refuge. Mine is the garden. Wrapped in a blue robe, I kick off my ratty fleece slippers and don rubber boots caked with yesterday's dirt. I take as companions a cup of coffee and our dog, Nellie, making sure to shut the door behind me so that Calvin's rantings are, at the very least, muffled. Plodding through a dewy lawn sprinkled with white clover, my boots leave dark swaths in their wake as if to exclaim, like knifes carving into bark, we were here, but our presence is fleeting. Then, one by one, I step on stones through a corral of fragrant azaleas which fill my nostrils with candy spice. The Milky Way dogwood, with its hundreds of creamy moons, smiles down on me as I stand under a silver birch and, if I wanted to, I could touch a pair of cardinals nesting in the burning bush I've lovingly pruned into a Seussian orb.


Beyond the magnolia, whose few leaves have already begun to bronze, two perennial beds brim with yellow and rose glowing lilies, lipstick bee balm crowns, sprays of white feverfew, swords of purple salvia and flaming pink and peach echinacea suns whose spiky golden cores fat bumble bees orbit, land and mine.

By this time, I've forgotten my crazy kid and his unnerving antics, having drenched my senses in my own backyard reef amidst a sea of greens, where my body can be calm, my mind clear and somewhat free.

Photo by Michael Kolster


  1. I wish there was something I could say that would help. I'm glad you have your garden. 💜

  2. I don't know if this will help, but I've felt exactly the same way as far as frustration, despair and disgust. It's hard to be honest and convey those things, and you've done so beautifully here. I appreciate you, and I appreciate you always telling it like it is for you. I know how utterly invested you are in your son, how much you love and do for him. I know, too, that you are a woman, a person, that you need to be replenished, affirmed and given respite. I love you, Christy.