in the woods

I had a good cry the other morning, better than I've had in a long time, perhaps too long. It felt like olden days, back when Calvin was an infant and I was just beginning to understand how messed up he was likely going to be, back when his developmental gap was widening by the minute, back when I'd cry in the woods on most days.

Hot tears rained down my face, kissed by the cool damp of the surrounding forest. I let them flow. I was alone, my face a grimacing, dripping mask, my breathing more like gasps. Nellie waited for me on a knoll in the shade where I sat myself on a root. She licked the tears from my face. I lingered there with Nellie, the birds and trees, and I let my tears dry in the wind.

On the stretch home I lamented Calvin's inability to do most anything without at least some assistance, and most things not at all. He can't independently walk, talk, trike, eat, drink, pee, shit, bathe, dress, undress, run, play, climb, sing, dance, brush his teeth, comb his hair, play with toys appropriately, cover himself up at night or get out of bed. I grieve the loss of what I thought parenthood had promised—seeing my child engage with peers, talking with him about the ways of the world and about what it means to be a good person, going with him to the movies or out to dinner or on a hike or to a concert or go fishing or swimming or biking or shopping or walking in the woods.

Some of my pain rained out when I wept, and more so during a brief visit with my neighbor and dear friend, Woody. In his eighty-five years he has experienced his share of grief and loss, and he held me as I shed a few more tears.

"It'll get better," he said. Then, as if he knew my stance on these matters, he corrected himself by adding, "it might not get better, but everything will be okay."

My day improved after a visit from a friend and a successful trip to the grocer, the gelato place and the health food store with Calvin. But my boy soon wilted, becoming pale and spacey, omens of worse things to come.

That night, after dining out with my homie Sarah, whose boy Jacob is quite like mine, Calvin had two grand mal seizures in the span of five hours. After the second one, at two-thirty in the morning, he writhed in agony for hours. Acetaminophen and acupressure did nothing to assuage his suffering, which I think may have been a mix of migraine and gastrointestinal pain. The event was identical to bouts he'd endured when we first began weaning his benzodiazepine over three years ago. I wondered if it was due to the abrupt withdrawal of vitamin B6, wondered if I'd given him too much THC, wondered if it was the benzo withdrawal, even though we paused it over a month ago. In my inability to do anything else to help, and short of the loathsome idea of taking him to the hospital, I kept telling him soon he'd feel better; experience told me so. Finally, at dawn, just as the birds began singing in the woods, Calvin settled and went to sleep for an hour.

Today I read on social media that coming off of vitamin B6 can look a lot like benzodiazepine withdrawal. Indeed, its sudden elimination may have caused Calvin's cannabis and/or his benzo blood levels to abruptly plummet, causing a kind of withdrawal all its own. I also understood that Calvin's frequent tachycardia may be due to vitamin B6 toxicity and/or the THC rescue med I used twice that night. Next seizure—and there will be one—I'm going to try using only frankincense to stop it and prevent more. I'm also going to extend the pause of his benzodiazepine wean, holding at 1.5 milligrams per day for now because he's had eight grand mal seizures in the past thirty days, which is nearly double his monthly average. My hope is that once his B6 levels off the fits will calm down, and though I doubt they'll get markedly better anytime soon, perhaps everything will be okay, and maybe some day he'll step into the woods with me.

Photo by Michael Kolster


  1. This is a beautiful post. I love that Nellie and Woody both gave you some comfort after your cry.

  2. Christi - I read every word you write and grieve everything you and Calvin did not, are not, will not get. Thank you for sharing, I feel honored to read your words. Hoping so much for easier days for your boy soon.

  3. Grief does get better, eventually. It still bites me in the ass at times but it's less frequent now. I imagine it will hurt when Katie's sister gets married and has children.

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