It had been only three days since my son's last grand mal seizure. As Calvin convulsed, at first tangled in his covers, Michael and I caressed his arms and legs, kissed his face and told him that we love him. It was the first time in awhile that I cried after one of his seizures. Perhaps my tears were triggered by a state of physical and emotional exhaustion from months of taking care of a child who can do absolutely nothing by himself save play with his baby toys in a bed with side panels and a netted canopy. This pandemic has made everything about life harder. On top of that, Calvin's epilepsy has been unforgiving as ever.

When the seizure was over, Michael went downstairs to finish preparing dinner. I sat on a step stool next to Calvin's bed and kept vigil, watching and feeling my boy's chest rise and fall. In the dim room, as I mourned my son's condition, I wondered again how I'd keep it up, this caring for him as he grows into a young man. I don't really know the answer. In the quiet, I recalled how, earlier that day, I had seen little kids riding bikes with their friends, siblings and parents. Last week I'd seen a child half Calvin's age swimming in the brackish water off of Simpson's Point with his mother, the two of them chasing schools of hungry fish churning the water. I'd seen a little girl skipping down the street with her dog. I'd seen a young family buzzing around in a small community garden, perhaps picking raspberries, beans or tomatoes. My child has nothing to do with any of it. His body grows but most everything else about him stays the same. Though sixteen, he's still an infant-toddler. He still wears diapers, which in the hot, humid weather make him sweat. His go-to toys are still rattles and chewies. He still seizes. About the only things that are different are the soft, thin mustache that has appeared and is gradually darkening, and the thought that he is becoming permanently psychotic due to years of seizures and antiepileptic drugs.

As evening fell and the room around me darkened, my thoughts turned to the young man I just started writing to who is living the rest of his life on death row. Online, I've seen photos of the cramped, rusty, neglected cells in his so-called correctional facility. I wonder if he can ever see trees, stars, the moon, or hear wild things bark at night like I do. I wonder what he dreams about while I dream of things like my mom and dad, San Francisco, missing flights, breathing underwater, Calvin seizing. I wonder if this captive soul can remember what the world looks like outside the massive prison walls. Does he ever catch the scent of sweet clover? Hear the buzz of bees and the chirps of birds? Does he remember or see bodies of water slip under low bridges? Does he imagine gleeful children so unlike my son leap from their spans on these unforgiving days of summer?

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