Lucas returns to karate class; two weeks off, thanks to Thanksgiving. I’m not sure what he’ll do; somedays he approaches the class with the solemnity of a Shaolin monk, others with the flightiness of, well, a five year old. No giggles and grabass upon his return – he is all steely-eyed focus, snapping off his kicks and punches, his ki-yaps coming from someplace much older. He is rewarded for his efforts: two additional stripes on his orange belt, two steps closer to testing for his next belt.

Five years ago, this week. It started on a Thursday, when it looked like Lucas was getting a cold. Not unusual – he was, after all, a ten-month old boy, a living breathing Petri dish. By Friday, he “felt a little warm.” Saturday morning my wife Beth and I woke to find our little boy with a hacking cough, a raging fever, and…how do I describe this? His eyes were a bright, burning red, the whites all but devoured by that scarlet hue, looking like something out of a Stephen King novel. His lips – cracked, puffy, and bleeding, like he’d been crawling in the desert for days. I felt a slow, creeping panic coming on – we gave him his sippy cup with water and called the hospital, who told us to bring him in to a local Urgent Care center later on that evening. When we got to the doctor’s, they told us they thought it was a virus, which in Doctorspeak means “we haven’t the slightest fucking idea what’s wrong with your kid”. They told us to keep giving him fluids and Motrin, and to go see our pediatrician on Monday.