It's Thursday at two a.m. I'm in bed with Calvin after his seizure. With my hand draped across his side to monitor his breathing, I reminisce about my previous day. I think about the kindness of strangers: the salty, sunburned guy in sleeveless sweatshirt and torn jeans who wanted to help me when Calvin dropped down in the middle of the grocery store; the woman in the checkout line who let me and my impatient, pre-seizure Calvin cut in front of her; the kind clerk who was uber-patient as I fumbled with my wallet and stumbling child.
In the darkness of the room, my thoughts then drift to the strangers I've met while driving around on the back roads with Calvin. Countless folks brightened my brutally-long and sometimes dark pandemic days, but none as much as the runner, the Carhart dog walker, and the black-clad couple, all of whom I used to encounter with some frequency. Since our car-ride schedule has changed, however, and since Calvin is having so many seizures which require a day or two of recovery, I rarely see these familiar faces anymore. I miss them, miss our exchange of nods and smiles and waves. Because my days are still long and my child is still sometimes near impossible, their absence is palpable. Recently, I finally pulled over, introduced myself and connected with the latter three for more than a fleeting moment in passing. I expressed my gratitude for their unwitting source of comfort amid a difficult time. The first of these roadside stops was with the black-clad couple. It yielded a kind invitation from the woman, Lynn, for me and Calvin to visit her and her husband, John, at their home on the Point. Yesterday, while Calvin was in school, I took her up on her offer, deciding to go solo to suss things out for a possible future trip with Calvin. As we got acquainted in their kitchen, John frothed up some milk for my coffee and made us breakfast. With plates of cinnamon French toast and berries propped in our laps, we sat on their deck overlooking a misty inlet. We spoke of a dear mutual friend, of the other back-roads travelers, of art and family and pharmaceuticals and politics and pandemic. Lynn then gave me a tour of their home and gardens, which she and her husband have worked on improving for decades. I found the two of them to be intelligent and artistic, with good senses of humor, and they revealed an easygoing openness and humility. The short time I spent with them in their idyllic setting felt like being on vacation. Upon my leaving, Lynn and I gave each other goodbye hugs, and made a mental plan to get together on my turf; it felt as if I'd known her for years.
Finally, dawn begins seeping in through the windows, and as it does, my day at the grocer and with John and Lynn seems like a distant memory. As the shadows recede, so too does the risk of Calvin's demise from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy), so I finally sneak out of his bed and into mine. As a cool breeze drifts over my body from the open windows, I close my eyes and continue to dream and wonder about the lives of strangers, and of the pleasure of making friends with them.