Yesterday morning, just before four o'clock, Calvin suffered his first seizure in twenty-two days—a recent record I owe to a slight increase in his THCA cannabis oil. When the fit was over, I crawled into bed with him to monitor his well-being.
For ninety minutes, while feeling Calvin's heartbeat and the rise and fall of his chest as he slept, I laid awake. I thought about having seen Jupiter and Saturn low in the sky, though not aligned. I lamented the coronavirus surge devastating our nation. I wondered about my death row pen pal who delighted in a pencil portrait I drew of him. Then, my mind settled on the film Michael and I had just watched, the 1938 production of Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol—a version I don't remember having seen before. The holiday classic, which I'll soon be reading, is one I've long loved for its focus on gratitude, charity, brotherhood, community, and the secular traditions of the holiday—gathering with loved ones to share special food and drink.
Whenever I see any version of this film I think about Calvin—my own Tiny Tim—who is as sweet and pure as any child could be. What a remarkable boy he might have been (in the way of ordinary, healthy boys) if things hadn't gone wrong. I often wonder what the future holds for him. At times throughout the film I became weepy. Though I know the story well, one of the last scenes surprised me. After having been haunted by the three Spirits of Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge makes an unannounced visit to the home of Bob Cratchit, the clerk he recently sacked. Upon the curmudgeon's arrival, Cratchit's wife hides in the closet. When she hears her children begin to shriek, fearing their ill-treatment by Scrooge, she rushes to save them. Bursting into the room, she finds her kids squealing with joy over the gifts Scrooge has bestowed upon them. Tears spilled from my eyes at the sight and sound of the ecstatic children; oh, how I wish Calvin could experience such things.
Alas, as of yet, there is no cure for my boy's seizures. No cure for his cerebral palsy. No cure for the enlarged lateral ventricles in his brain. No cure for his autism. No cure for his cerebral visual impairment. And so, unlike Tiny Tim, Calvin will never joyously slip-slide on a slope of ice with friends, stare wide-eyed at a roasted goose emerging from the oven, recognize and respond to his father's pride and despair, shriek with joy when opening a special gift. And though in this house we don't celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, and despite Calvin's limitations and the pandemic, we can gather with friends at a safe distance outdoors and raise glasses of spirits. We can hunker down and sip homemade bourbon eggnog beside a rolling fire. The three of us will eat a roasted bird with all the fixings, plus pumpkin pie for dessert. We are secularly blessed and deeply grateful for each other, our friends and our fortunes, and the ability to share our blessings and fortunes with others.