weight of the world

Saturday night, I listened to my son wail until he was nearly hoarse. I watched him writhe in some unknown pain. The event, whether cramps, hallucinations, night terrors, or most likely migraine, went on for five hours. None of the measures I attempted—acetaminophen, ibuprofen, THCA oil, CBD—helped to quell his misery.

Downstairs, our dinner guests kept me sane with their loving support through a difficult situation. Hell, we even had some laughs in-between sips of wine, bites of Michael's melt-in-your-mouth porchetta, mashers, green beans, and hearing Calvin shriek. It didn't help for me to remain upstairs with my boy; he's getting big, so someone's liable get hurt if I were to crawl into bed with him, though I did make one failed attempt. Luckily, he's safe in his padded, paneled, netted-canopy bed, able to flop around into positions most comfortable for him. At one point, during my frequent checks on him, he had drifted off briefly while sitting up.

Calvin finally fell asleep close to eleven. Regrettably, three hours later he had a grand mal followed by another one at six a.m. I can't remember the last time he had three serious events in less than twelve hours. He had been doing pretty well lately.

As I laid next to Calvin in the wake of his first seizure, I wondered if perhaps he feels viscerally the weight of the world, causing him anguish or triggering seizures. I thought of the damage our reckless president is doing to the already volatile Middle East. I feared for the animals and people in peril from Australia's rampant wildfires. I worried over a friend who is suffering from late-stage cancer and the side effect from its heinous treatments. I fretted over recent hard conversations with a dear friend regarding prejudice, judgment, the virtues of political correctness, and the hurt felt by both of us. I wondered if Calvin could feel me.

Then, after spending too much time brooding in bed next to my son, I remembered a girl I had met at the grocer earlier in the day. A thin, blond, sweet seventh grader, she had smiled shyly and waved, saying, "Hi Calvin," as we passed her in front of the cold cut case. Holding onto Calvin's hand, I stopped to return her greeting, introducing myself to her father. She explained having met Calvin last year while visiting his junior high school's Life Skills class where she made friends with another student very much like our boy. It dawned on me who she was and that, a few weeks earlier, I had met her mother and another woman who had come to our door sharing info about Jehovah's Witnesses. At first, I'd been a bit sharp with them; because of Calvin, I'm prone to growl whenever anyone tells me that "everything happens for a reason."

"I am not worthy of my son's suffering," I declared to the proselytizers, my heart pounding with contempt for any suggestion that Calvin's misery is some divine plan, a notion which to me seems no less than sadistic. I went on to explain my disdain for organized religion, my disbelief of a merciful or judgmental, anthropomorphized god, stressing my conviction that the Bible is metaphor written by men to explain the unexplainable and to further their power and control over others.

The Jehovah's Witnesses had been kind and forgiving, respectful of my beliefs. I went on to let them in and led them upstairs to meet Calvin, who was in bed resting. There, we exchanged ideas about god, the afterlife, and hell on Earth. Some of our beliefs seemed to overlap. They were loving to Calvin and most sympathetic to our burden. It was a short visit, and as they were leaving I gave them both hugs, plus my card, which has a photo of me and Calvin printed on one side and my blog and email addresses on the other. Two days later, one of them wrote to me, explaining the discovery that her daughter knew Calvin.

Back at the grocer, I said farewell to the girl. I thanked her for being so kind to Calvin and for making and keeping friends with his former classmate, who is non-verbal, developmentally delayed and seizure-prone, just like Calvin.

"You're going to save the world," I told the girl, firmly believing in my assertion that this gentle creature standing before me in boots and a little overcoat, this old soul with wavy blond locks swept back into a bundle, doesn't have a mean bone in her body and loves everyone, just like Calvin.

Lying next to Calvin that night after his miserable pain episode and first of two seizures, and holding the images in my mind of the girl's rosy face and that of her mother's, I drifted off to sleep with the weight of the world—Calvin—in my embrace.

Years ago, photo by Michael Kolster

1 comment:

  1. how beautifully you share the almost unspeakable angst.....