For years my son Calvin woke up every morning crying. There was no consoling him, and he'd wail for an hour, sometimes more. I guessed that his misery had to do with the high doses of three anticonvulsant drugs he was taking, one of them being a dreaded benzodiazepine. I imagined they gave him raging headaches. His distress was exasperating, disturbing, worrying and terribly sad. I'd go to sleep each night trying to forget what I knew I'd wake up to the next morning.

This past week, I visited four social studies classes at Calvin's junior high school to speak about disability and difference, to tell the students about Calvin and to answer their questions about him and epilepsy. A thoughtful, curious, dark-haired boy in the front row wondered how I coped. I told him and his classmates that I have an amazing husband who does all of the cooking every single night, and that he is a good enough chef he could open an excellent restaurant. I added that I try to take naps, that writing has saved me, and that our beloved friends and community support us in various ways tangibly and emotionally.

What I think I may have forgotten to mention is my love for gardening, which draws me outside in all kinds of weather and is most glorious in the early morning and early evening hours when the light casts long shadows over the lawn.

Since just before Calvin was born I've ripped out several straggly shrubs and planted scores of others, many of them gifted to me, including several dwarf conifers and small trees. Most of them, however, are flowering rhododendrons and azaleas which remind me of my youth. I made over a ratty, neglected part of the yard back by the screen porch that Michael built, putting in some stone paths. I revived two perennial gardens that had succumbed to grass and weeds, then added a third, edging the larger ones with low rock borders. I limbed-up some huge sickly spruce trees, restoring them, then planted an understory of large and leggy rhodies, scattering forget-me-nots amongst them.

The shrubs are beginning to grow and mature, and as they do I dig up ones that are becoming crowded and relocate them or gift them to friends. Thankfully, most of them survive my thirst for control, but not all.

This morning, the day after Calvin suffered a grand mal, was one of those dewy, gorgeous mornings I'm so grateful for, and more so having yesterday mowed the lawn, as that seems to make everything else pop.

Considering our son's circumstance, I think I'm coping well, but I should mention that he doesn't wake up crying anymore—hasn't for years—which feels like a cure-all in itself.

click on any photo to enlarge.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful yard! I love gardening too. It's peaceful, digging in the dirt, listening to the birds, the sound of the breeze in the trees. It's a good place to be.

    I'm glad Calvin doesn't wake up crying anymore.