Earlier, at the edge of a bonfire, I stood, fists shoved into my pockets, fighting the cold. The fire at my feet warmed my thighs, Lauren's hot glögg, which I sipped from a glass mug, my gut. Friends and neighbors had gathered to celebrate the solstice. Breaths and words left their lips in frosty puffs. Dried onion skins, charred white, floated up from the fire like ghosts. Jupiter and Mars peered down on us.
Back at home, before the bonfire, my boy had been thrashing in bed, suffering some sort of discomfort. I decided to give him some extra THCA cannabis oil, some drops of herbal rescue remedy, plus acetaminophen. Then, I laid him back down again. The concoction worked to calm him, and he seemed to fall asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Worry followed me anyway.
Later that night, as I laid awake listening to the train cruise through a nearby neighborhood, I wondered if I'll have to take care of my son for the rest of my life—or for the rest of his. It's a thought I try as best I can to keep at bay, its consequences daunting—the thought of this traveler in an immovable life rooted in what has already been two decades spent in the same nation, same state, same town, rarely escaping in over eighteen years to California, New York, Seattle. The alternative is just as frightening.
And then came yesterday's new moon and raging storm, which brought high winds and sideways rain. In just hours, the temperature plunged from fifty-four to just fourteen degrees. The power went out in the afternoon. Luckily, last year we got a generator, so we had light, refrigeration and heat. Still, I was awake last night from midnight until after three o'clock a.m. worrying about the thousands of folks without power and heat for their homes. I padded downstairs to check my phone in case any neighbors had texted me looking for help to warm their bones. Thankfully, it seemed everyone was safe and sound.
When I crawled back into bed, I was reminded of the train I heard on the night of the solstice, and the anxiety and self-pity I had been feeling about our impossible situation with Calvin. I thought about the isolation and limitations that come from caring for Calvin, but as I thought further on it and considered our fortune to be warm and dry amid the crazy wildness outside, I began to see the riches that have come with having had Calvin. Had it not been for him, I might never have begun writing. Perhaps I'd never have begun quilting, or baking again, or running. No doubt, had we not moved to Maine where he survived—against nearly every odd—his premature, medically-complicated and fraught birth, I might have missed developing scores of deep and loving friendships with doctors, nurses, farmers, carpenters, teachers, ed techs, mothers, fathers, marathoners and other runners, professors, deans, students, artists, other writers, journalists, restauranteurs, film makers, builders, bakers, octogenarians, and dear, whiskey-swilling neighbors.
So, in the early morning hours of our secular Christmas Eve—a holiday to which Calvin is oblivious—as the storm still tossed around huge boughs of white pines—the same ones I rested my eyes upon in the first days of writing this blog twelve years ago—I realized how ridiculously rich my life really is, even in the confines of these four walls with my little ball and chain.