a good thing i did

If not for my son’s half-dozen ridiculously manic frenzies, the windy drive north was uneventful. Rather than face each of his outbursts with frustration and impatience, which my sleep-deprived self is often prone to do, I resorted to embracing and kissing him instead.

It was a good thing that I did.

Our day at the fair was a decent one, not that Calvin pet the animals or giggled at the goat’s bleat or marveled at the midway or ate cotton candy from a paper stick; he did none of those things. But he did walk well, a bit, and seemed content in the borrowed stroller, and ate his cut-up bites of lunch and took his meds. Above us, low clouds at times obscured a harsh sun, and gusts of wind cooled our necks and kicked up dust at our feet.

The past eight days—besides a steady increase in eye-poking and these brief, hysterical spells—have been good ones for my son; he's been happy, content, had mostly restful nights and has been walking stronger on his previously-broken foot. I wonder if this somewhat calm, seizure-free stretch is because we briefly paused the taper in his benzodiazepine.

At the fair, while I gave Calvin his noontime meds, chasing each pill with a sip of juice, his eyes rolled back and fluttered several times in what looked like some sort of tiny seizures, perhaps the petit mal type. And on the way back to the car, Calvin did what I call his zombie walk, cooperatively and quietly strolling along in his dad's hand with a pale, blank expression on his face. I remarked to Michael that I’d seen this kind of thing the day before grand mal seizures.

At two-thirty a.m. the seizure hit, too early to give Calvin his morning dose of benzo to head off a subsequent fit, so we gave him the Diastat—rectal Valium—and watched each spasm slowly subside, watched our boy finally catch his breath. Fearing he’d expire in the night, I crawled in with him, though not knowing what I’d do if his breathing stopped or if I’d even wake up if it did.

For an hour I laid awake, eyes closed, while Calvin slept, my mind wandering. I thought of the college kids returning to town, their voices echoing happily down our street. I recalled our recent dinner with Henry and Hector, Michael’s former students whom I've grown quite fond of, and the bottle of bourbon they brought us as a gift. I wondered how Beth, Calvin’s former nurse, is doing in St. Thomas. I worried about Calvin entering Jr. High. I relived the day’s phone conversations with my siblings, thought about the tear running down my cheek while missing Mom, missing life before Calvin, missing sleep. I lamented things like the dying shrub, these weeks without rain, the smug, so-called Christian meme posted on a friend’s social media page asserting that people like me, good folks who don't believe in the god of Scripture, are doomed to eternal damnation. I bristled at the cad named Trump and all that he stands for, grieved the injustices in this nation—misogyny, bigotry, classism, racism. I mourned my losses and those of struggling families fleeing war torn places, and those exposed to earthquakes and viruses, heat waves and floods.

Finally, I drifted off to sleep and dreamt of my childhood friend, Gary, who in my dream was riding a bus with me when a detached door flew off and struck him hard in the head. He started to bleed and seize. I woke in a distressed state, my diminutive tween slowly rousing beside me in the bed, and I embraced him and kissed him.

It was a good thing I did.

Photo by Michael Kolster


  1. Thinking of you and Calvin and Michael, and sending you thoughts of joy and strength.

  2. Love and only love -- it has to be enough.

  3. "Fearing he’d expire in the night, I crawled in with him, though not knowing what I’d do if his breathing stopped or if I’d even wake up if it did."

    I think you would wake up and you would know what to do. But even if you didn't, if that bad thing happened as you both slept, at least Calvin wouldn't have been alone.

    RR Julia

    1. so nice to hear from you again, rr. i was wondering if you were still following.