This morning I left to go to the gym and noticed a white car driving away from our street. Before it reached the next stop sign, the brakes were applied; a woman jumped out from the driver’s seat and started yelling, “Call 9-1-1! Someone call 9-1-1 quick!” She was screaming like a woman who suddenly had no control only an intense filling of fear. A girl jumped from the back seat and started running knocking on doors. The lady continued screaming and crying out like an injured person. I heard her yell at the end of a breath, “My son is having a seizure.” I reached the car as quickly as I could. Another adult was already looking into the vehicle. The boy in the car was twelve and just had a tonic-clonic seizure. He had never had medical problems before and was now unresponsive which placed tremendous fear into this mother’s heart. I asked the bystander to help this mom change the boy from a slumped position and have him lie down in the seat. I explained her son was postictal. He was in the third phase of a seizure. I asked the other family member to speak to him with kind and calming words. I told the little boy an ambulance was coming to check on him, and I knew it probably seemed all really scary and confusing. I assured him everything was all over now and his body just needed to rest.
I told the mom again and again resting like this after a seizure was normal. Her son was tired. This was the path to recovery. His brain and body were just relaxing now. The girl who had fled the back seat was his little sister. She had been the one to identify the onset of the seizure. She was scared and had no comprehension as to what she had just seen. I asked if she had ever seen a lightning storm. We talked about rain when it sprinkles and then when it drops so hard you beg your mom to run outside and splash in the puddles. The little girl smiled as she heard about puddles. We said how it isn’t a good idea to play in lightning. Her brother just had the coolest lightning storm that started just in a little space in his brain and then spread all over. We talked about how cool it would be to see lightning spread like that. We talked about how cool it was he had a sister as great as she was. She hugged me, wiped away tears and hugged me again.
The paramedics came. I told them this little boy was postictal and the length of time since the movement stopped. We talked about his response of blinking a few times. It seemed as though he was coming to. I told his mom again and again how much harder this was on her than it was on her son. Before the ambulance drove away, the girl hugged me again and whispered “thank you”.
A few hours later, I drove my daughters to listen to my youngest play in her second band concert. There is something beautiful, yet painful, about listening to fourth and fifth graders playing a mix of Queen songs. Leaves me wishing I could not hear if instruments are out of tune. Yet, I can and I help my daughters each practice their instruments. I am able to iron clothes and drive them to these performances. I’ve come a long way from only dreaming I could push down piano keys again.
I returned home to a neighbor waiting to share a glass of red wine and entertaining conversation. We had tears to clear up first. She found out today one of her eyes is losing sight and the eye doctor expects all sight to be gone within a short while. The other eye has macular degeneration and will progressively get worse over time. I told her about the neat devices I learned about while in a low-vision support group. I told her ways to cope that had helped me get around. When I first had my stroke, I was nearly blind. It was a slow process to get as much as I have back.
I told this neighbor one of the best lessons I learned: You don’t have to see a picture to realize the beauty it holds. You don’t have to see the sunset to recreate the splendor in your mind. We grieved the loss she will soon experience. Yes, there were tears. It’s healthy to cry for what you are losing and to fear what might come. Yet, it is also healthy to hold onto hope and rejoice what you still have. As I told her, when you lose a loved one, there are seven stages of grieving. When you face a serious illness, these seven stages are usually present and just as important. We lightened the mood and laughed more at what amusing things it might be good not to have to see. I left after a big hug. As I walked home, I was slightly confused whether we still had tears of sadness or these were tears brought on by humor. Sometimes, as in this evening, they are so beautifully intertwined they are hard to differentiate.
Days like these once again reaffirm my belief that life does not prepare us for the current moment, but prepares us for moments yet to come. Someday you will find yourself understanding why the hard and trying lessons you learn today are so important for tomorrow. On this day, today, I found myself remembering this important lesson. I have no doubt; I am right where I should be.