Ishan is always teaching us something.
At times, there’s a spike in the anxiety, causing it to bubble to the surface. A few weeks ago, Ishan had a Crohn’s Disease flare which can be quite painful. In normal times, it passes without undue worry. But this time we were constantly checking his temperature, and it prompted Sitara’s call to the GI nurse: we think it is a flare and not COVID-19, but … . One night both of us woke up around the same time, at 4 a.m. I wordlessly got up to check on Ishan, and reported back: he’s breathing, he’s OK.
But Ishan is happiest when both his parents are around, all day, all the time. The countless hugs for his mom, the gratitude for the smallest of things — after a walk or a drive, after cleaning him, are unfailing. And after a long day which leaves us bone-weary and mentally spent, having been “with him” every minute, sometimes he’s all over his dad, with unique sounds of expressing an additional reserve of love for me. He can go for several hours expressing those same sounds only we understand, ‘till he falls asleep. I feel guilt of another kind — that I can never love this boy as much as he loves me, to this obsessive extent.
However it’s slightly different these days — the guilt immediately reminds me of the anxiety which, like the stubborn vampire on the shoulder, is not easy to shrug off in these strange times.
Ganesh Nayak is an architect and sustainability professional living in Marietta, with his wife Sitara and son Ishan. He is co-chair of the State Advisory Panel for Special Education in Georgia. Views expressed are his own.