When Nothing Else Matters


Patch — Spackle — Sand — Prime — Paint.

That’s how it’s done. Trust me on this one.

It was 2:00 am. Cade just kicked a two foot hole into  the wall next to his bed. In other words, migraines suck.

“Why would you do that Cade?” I yelled. I had just patched, spackled, sanded, primed and painted another two foot hole just inches away from this one.

“Fix it Dad,” he cried.

“I’ll fix it later son.” I assured him.

I used to be a bit of a neat freak around the house. Things always had to be just so. Raising a son with autism and taking care of my special needs brother-in-law Brett has changed all of that. You see, in our home things get destroyed as quickly as I repair them. And although most of Cade’s destruction is done purposefully, both he and Brett are so rough that our home interior doesn’t stand a chance. My wife Julee loves the mid-century modern look. Unfortunately, our home has become more of a mid-century fuck it. Closing my eyes, I visualized the potential of this old house.

“One day we’ll be able to invite company over,” I told myself, “without feeling embarrassed.”

I looked toward Cade and he was awfully pale. Before long he was slamming his body onto the floor. With his head landing only inches away from the dresser, I quickly jumped in between. Not to protect the precious furniture mind you, but to provide a safe barrier between Cade and the dresser’s edge. Furiously, the pounding continued.

“Lie down Cade,” I pleaded with him. “And I’ll go get your medicine.”

If only life was that simple. If only Cade would lie still and allow me to help. If only he understood that I could help ease his pain the same way that I mend the holes in our walls. Just as there are steps to proper home improvement, there are steps to alleviating pain.

Slide the dresser — Run to the kitchen — Grab Cade’s medicine — Fill a cup with water — Run back to Cade’s room — Force him to swallow his pill.

That’s how it’s done. Trust me on this one.

It was 2:30 am. There’s a scratch across the wood floor from where I slid the dresser. In other words, the migraine’s gone.

“Hey buddy.” I asked “How are you feeling?”

“Good.” he replied.

In that moment I realized that I can live with a beat up house. When your child is hurting nothing else really matters. Holes can be patched and scratches can be buffed. Both of which, I’ve learned to do very well. Cade went from screaming and thrashing his body to laughing and watching Shrek videos. As for me, I closed my eyes and for the next four hours I slept like a baby.

In these moments when nothing else matters, life is speaking to you. Stop dwelling on insignificant crap. Stop hating on friends and family over differing opinions. Stop stressing the small things and start living. When our journey here has come to an end would any of that had truly been worth it?


  • The shirt that I’m wearing in the photos “Disability: noun — not a dirty word” is available from Sevenly at https://www.sevenly.org/.
  • Photos by Lauren Adelle Woods