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Blissful Calm Before a Gathering Storm

February 29, 2012

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
~Unknown

Last night was amazing, euphoric, breathtaking, affirming, startling and terrifying all at the same time. Last night my oldest son made his First Reconciliation. He has been practicing for it at home and at school. He was prepared. He knew his prayers. He was ready.

And.He.Did.Great.

He finished his confession and walked to the front of the church and knelt down in front of the altar, hands folded. I sat in the pew watching him, filled with so many emotions. He has come so very far. He looked so self-assured, kneeling alone at the front of the church.

As we left the church, he told me how great he felt. He was so happy. He walked a bit lighter. We walked to the car, and headed off to the Thai restaurant across town that he had selected as a celebratory spot.

The kids were so well-behaved. To be honest, we have been steering clear of church for quite some time now. It seemed like every time we tried, we either had a meltdown or it was so much effort to keep them all contained and quiet that I never got a chance to actually pray, or even hear what the priest was saying. This week we tried again. We were unusually successful. I can even tell you what the first reading was about – the rainbow, as a symbol of God’s promise that he would never again destroy the world with a flood. Then, we went again last night for Troy’s reconciliation. Two days in a row, my kids were good in church. We may be on to something here….

So off we went to the restaurant, where once again my kids were great. Troy stood next to his chair, as Joyce admired the rocks in the bamboo display next to our table (have I mentioned she has a thing for collecting rocks?), and Mary flapped her hands happily in her high chair. It felt so, well, normal. The waitstaff there have come to know us, and were more than accommodating. It was so easy.

After we stuffed ourselves on curry until we couldn’t eat any more, we started to leave. As Troy and Joyce started to race each other down the sidewalk to the ice cream shop, my son stopped suddenly and started crying. The enormity of his accomplishment that night (his first sacrament since his christening- the first one he had actually prepared for himself) finally settling on him exploded, triggered by the perceived competition with his sister to see who could get to the ice cream store first.

It looks so much like a spoiled kid’s temper tantrum, but it was so much more. He had been preparing for that night for weeks, both at school and at home. He (understandably) did not want to have to compete with his sister for any part of it. But he also just doesn’t have the capability of expressing his emotions, or even understanding them. Everything that had happened that night – good, stressful, exciting – boiled over, right there on the sidewalk in the middle of his celebration. That night, when it was all about him and his accomplishment, was when he needed to fall apart. I sent my husband and the girls on ahead, while I knelt with my boy on the cold, dark, city sidewalk.

When Troy had calmed, we collected ourselves and continued on to the ice cream store, where the celebratory feasting continued. We were on cloud nine driving home that night. We had all stuffed ourselves with curry and ice cream and had an amazing evening, mini-meltdown notwithstanding.

As we pulled into the driveway, my husband turned around to see who was still awake in the back seat.

Is she okay?!” He suddenly asked with a sharp note of startled fear in his voice.

I turned around and jumped out of the car to open the back door as quickly as I could. There, in her car seat, Mary appeared to be having another seizure. Her eyes fixed and distant and tongue hanging slightly out of her mouth. Then as quickly as it had started, she rolled her eyes back and then turned her head and looked over at me.

Whatever this is, it is getting worse. It’s not so much the seizures that I fear, but what might be causing them and the regressions. It is like someone up there is trying force me to recognize what I am seeing. I had felt so unsure about the quieter episodes when she appeared to just space out, but now they are becoming more frequent and more obvious. It is frightening. To think about what might be causing them is just plain terrifying. She is scheduled for a 23 hour video monitored EEG (an overnight hospital stay where they will try to catch a seizure on EEG and on video) in three weeks. I don’t know that I’ll be able to hold it together that long.

My boy was amazing last night. My Joyce was spectacular and charming as always. My sweet baby girl had an amazing time. It seems so rare that we get time to just celebrate something so wonderful as a family. I should be able to concentrate on that, and I am. Believe me, I am.

But then there is that tightening knot twisting in my stomach, knowing that the storm is coming…..

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Picture from http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/climate-weather/storms/calm-before-storm.htm by John Lund/Riser/Getty Images

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