boy of responding kisses

Yesterday, Memorial Day, the day we honor soldiers who died at war, I held my son as he seized. Because it was his fourth fit in little over an hour (thankfully, the previous ones were not grand mals), and because it was midday, and because it was a most violent one, I gave him rectal Valium. At his side, I watched and felt him convulse and wretch and gasp for air until the benzodiazepine finally bathed his brain and the spasms disappeared. When it was over, his body limp and his eyes half-mast, I gently doffed his vomit-sopped shirt and put a new one on. Then, I cradled him and lifted him into bed—sixty pounds of his dead weight in my arms.

Once in bed, as I covered Calvin with his blanket, carefully tucking it in behind his back and under his feet, I thought about Walt Whitman wrapping and burying his cold soldier son on the battlefield. I wondered what it must have been like for him to know that his son—"boy of responding kisses"—was gone.

Though it is only Calvin's fourth or fifth daytime grand mal in over one-thousand days (they mostly occur at night since reaching a therapeutic dose of THCA cannabis oil), I was still disheartened. But then I realized that in May thus far, Calvin has suffered only two grand mals; the last time he had so few in one month was over three years ago when he was on a ridiculously high dose of the benzodiazepine, clobazam, which we've been weaning for nearly as long.

The road ahead is still a long one; we've got at least seven more months of weaning the benzodiazepine before he's completely off. But if Calvin can have one of his "best" months with regard to numbers of grand mals in the face of an active withdrawal and on ninety-seven percent less clobazam, I should try to rest at ease a little, and focus simply on my boy of such responding kisses.

Photo by Mary Scarpone

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