It’s funny how our minds work. For me, it’s all about feelings and the memories attached to those feelings. It was a Monday morning, the first hints of dawn were appearing when I peeked in E.’s room like I did every morning. The lump on the bed was quiet and still asleep. This part of my memory haunts me. Was everything as it appeared? I was bleary-eyed, trying to wake up and I’m sure my brain wanted more sleep. I try to give myself grace. I can’t change the past and all that. How could I have known? I went downstairs and started laundry. I read a little, and dozed a little more. I remember thinking that I need to start my Monday chores of righting the house, and doing the dishes piled up from the weekend. But first, I should get dressed. And Hmmmm…it’s odd that E. isn’t up yet. Oh, when I run upstairs to get my clothes for the day I’ll check on him. He must be tired from the weekend. First let me open the living room curtains and let some light in.
I’ve been reading a lot about our fight and flight response. How when under stress, our brains literally shut down the decision-making/intelligent/higher functioning parts of the brain while the basic survival instincts kick in. As I’ve sifted and sorted through memories, I know this to be true. As soon as I got to E.’s doorway, I knew things weren’t okay. You know how you wonder how you would react to certain traumas, wondering if you’d be able to respond or if you’d freeze? Here are some thoughts that went through my mind. NO! He’s seizing. Is he still breathing. Yes! Phone. I need my phone. 9-2 TWO?! Where’s my delete button?! 9-1-1 The rest of what happened was reactions. I didn’t think about if I should carry E. downstairs to where my phone was, I just did it. I didn’t think about what I would say to the operator. I didn’t think all the things that would come later, praising God that E. was breathing when I found him unresponsive.
Our next door neighbor is a first responder, who I still refer to as our angel. It seemed like only a minute, and she came running through the door. She told me later that she was late for work that morning when she got the call. Coincidence? No. She had the wisdom to tell me to call J. again and tell him to meet us at the hospital, because he wouldn’t make it home before the ambulance would leave. My other neighbor and dear friend (great with child at the time) fielded a frantic call from me that morning, in need of someone to come stay with O. She was there soon too. Putting her arm around my shaking shoulders. Both coached me through my panic. Yes, I needed to get dressed and maybe grab a toothbrush. Oh, and O is coming down the stairs. She probably shouldn’t see E. so neighbor dear sat on the floor with her and played with stickers. I couldn’t find my shoes to go out the door. I couldn’t think. One of the first responders pointed to them on the floor by the door. The same lady made sure I had my wallet, phone, and purse. It’s good she did because that was the furthest thing from my mind. Once we left, the one first responder who knew my Mom, drove to her house to tell her and bring her to stay with O. When I ask O. about that morning, she remembers the sirens waking her up and playing stickers with her little neighbor friend.
The ambulance ride was surreal. I sat in the front, my baby seizing in the back, wrapped in a blanket from home. How could other vehicles not hear an ambulance? I was numb, but I remember willing people to hear the sirens and move over to the side of the road so we could get through. It was undeniably the longest 15-20 minutes of my life.
We got to our local hospital, and J. was waiting there for us. I don’t remember much about this time. I know it took a while to get E.’s seizure to stop. I remember holding J.’s hand awfully tight. I drank way too much water. I shook. I cried. I prayed. J. and I didn’t say much, I guess we didn’t need to. J.’s dear aunt who works at the hospital came down to the ER to pray with us and give us hugs. Our dear friend and daughter were in town and quickly stopped in to give us hugs, pray with us, and hold E.’s hand.
We were transferred to Akron Children’s Hospital soon after. We sat in E.’s room reeling from the events of the morning. Telling and retelling every detail we could remember to doctors and nurses. But the rest of the story will need to wait. There’s only so much emotional energy available to relive these events, and I’m nearing the end. 🙂
This week we’re celebrating a year of E.’s gift of life. As we remember, we’re so grateful for life and the people who surround us and go through this journey with us.
Until next time.