This side of the winter solstice (the other side of darkness) I start counting the days until spring. Until the snow melts and the ground thaws. Until I can begin spreading mulch and picking up broken limbs. Until I might see the green tips of crocuses pushing up through the soil. Until I can walk again with my son around a soft grassy yard. For much of spring it'll still look like November, but at least I'll be able to hear the cardinals, finches and catbirds singing. To me, that is the sound of hope and of new beginnings.
Come this spring, I won't just be Calvin's mother, I'll be his legal guardian when he turns eighteen. It's because he can't do anything by himself or make any decisions. This year, Calvin would have been a high school senior if things hadn't gone so miserably wrong at the start. Next fall, he likely would have been college-bound along with so many of his peers. Instead, he'll stay in high school for another four years. I have no idea what kind of arrangements we'll make when he turns twenty-two. The notion of him living in a group home is as sad as it is incomprehensible—who would love him and hug and kiss him and sleep with him and know his idiosyncrasies, preferences and gestures? But the thought of taking care of him another dozen years, much less into our seventies and beyond, is just as daunting and laced with its own nagging questions, angst and complexities; It's hard to go there.