Ten p.m. Outside temps dip well below freezing, ice fractals crackle on the tops of blackish pools. The wind whips windows and tousles brittle limbs. Gray foxes, following footstep ghosts, trace a crusty sludge path in the snow around the house. Inside upstairs, Lincoln in the Bardo has been closed and set upon a dresser. Lights have been switched off. Three heads are weary and resting on ticking-striped pillows stuffed with goose down, plumped and rumpled into shapes made for dreaming.

Readily, sleep sets in.

In the room next door our boy cries out. Not a cry as much a spell of sickening retches as the seizure takes hold. Limbs stiffen. Breath snuffed out. Lightening-quick flickers of eyelids and gaping mouth, trembling limbs. Cheeks flush, lips tinge blue, fingers and lids pale and gray. Oxygen proves elusive. Consciousness gone. Guts twist and knot. Linens tint with bloody drool. Frankincense in drops on soles and toes.

Two to three minutes of this. Longer than most.

In its wake, every exhale is a whimper. Never heard this before. Misery in his mewling feels eternal. Lasts nearly half an hour. I ponder its root.

Bitten tongue? Jammed finger? Broken toe? Piercing ache or cramp? Frightened, muddled boy?

He puts his arms around my neck. Pulls me close. Knees up to his chest, still whimpering like a pup. I ask him in a whisper what is wrong. I murmur I am sorry. I stroke his face, rest my hand upon his hip. In the dim light, I can see him drifting off. Eyes closed, I heed his every breath.



  1. Such a beautiful portrait of mother love in the midst of terrible suffering. I know it wasn't what you meant to catch here, but it's here. Thank you for letting us see it and him.

  2. Nice word picture of Calvin's world, and yours. So happy to read he is getting off the Benzo drugs. That is a huge accomplishment. Congrats!
    Go Calvin!