north star

Last night, while much of the world lit candles on their menorahs, celebrated the birth of the baby Jesus and prepared for the coming of Kwanzaa, I watched my son seize. He had fallen asleep about an hour prior, and just as Michael and I were readying for bed, I heard Calvin screech. When I got to him, he was reclined with all fours in the air, crooked, stiff, and trembling. There on his back, he couldn't breath. Quickly as I could, I unlatched his bed's safety netting and panel then, reaching in, yanked his right arm to turn him onto his side. Soon, oxygen began passing his lips again, which had turned a ghostly shade of grey-blue, his airway having been blocked by flesh or fluid.

Holding him close to me as he drifted back to sleep, I thought about the tens—perhaps hundreds—of thousands of others whose sons and daughters were also seizing, disrupting special gatherings and gift-giving, candle-lighting and festivities. I thought about refugees who had traveled miles, many to be separated from their parents, to be kept in cold cages, slumped on hard floors without their medications. I lamented the cruel way they've been forsaken.

Earlier, Michael and I had been moved to tears upon reading a message that one of Calvin's nurses, Rita, wrote to us in response to my recent post, hard conversations. Within her loving sentiments, she included this prescient quote:

"I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children." —Oriah Mountain Dreamer

She went on to say:

I have the rare privilege of witnessing you and Michael do that day after exhausting day for years and years and years, perhaps for the rest of your lives.

You chose to share your beautiful, so severely limited son, a child who teaches us great lessons in compassion and loving more. In this gifting season, you all are one of the most profound gifts of my life.

Last night as I tucked him into bed, for the third or fourth time, he curled and cuddled into the covers, in his sweet peaceful way. As I kissed him goodnight, again, he gifted me with his sweet smile. He blesses me with his love. I am so grateful for Calvin.

I'm no believer in the folklore which teaches that Jesus is our savior and lord. But, because I have a child who inspires love, acceptance, compassion and empathy, I thought about Jesus, wishing others were so. And in pondering the stories of Christmas—the wise men, the refugees, the innkeepers—I realized Calvin is most like the North Star, bright and constant, shining on everyone no matter who they are.

Photographer unknown


  1. How incredibly blessed I am that we are "doing life together." The profound richness of sharing the love of Calvin and the love we've created together, for, and with, each other adds immeasurably to the joy of my life. I am deeply grateful for your presence in my life.

  2. What a beautiful insight...and sharing! Thank you....you've provided an uplift for all of us....