I have three drafts about running Philly for the Epilepsy Therapy Project. Each time the words weren’t quite there, but I wanted so badly to share with you my experience. Given the one thing that hit me the hardest in Philly, I am particularly overwhelmed with where our country is right now.
I am an adult. I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 32. There are a lot of annoying things that come along with that, but for the most part I am extremely fortunate. I had 32 years without epilepsy. 32 years of answering n/a to chronic health conditions on surveys. 32 years of answering n/a to current medications. 32 years of riding amusement park rides. 32 years of doing just about whatever I wanted to do without giving it a second thought. Because my epilepsy isn’t genetic I don’t live with the fear that I may have passed the gene to my children. I’m fortunate in more ways than I can count.
As we worked to raise money for this project I began to meet the moms of children with epilepsy. When we were in Philly I sat with a mother whose son is the same age as my youngest son. For no apparent reason at all, several years ago her son developed epilepsy. He can no longer communicate with her and they have yet to find any medicine that controls his endless daily seizures. He can not tell her what he wants for lunch. He can not tell her what he wants to wear. He can not tell her how his medicine makes him feel. He can not tell him when he feels something taking over his body in the form of a seizure. He can not tell her he loves her. He can not tell her he is mad at this thing called epilepsy that has stolen his life. This mom, this mom’s tears have stayed with me every single day.
I have thought how many times we hear a parent say when a child is ill “I wish it was me”. How fortunate I am that it is already me. I remember the heartache I felt when my mother told us she had leukemia. Then she said what I now understand. “If someone at this table has to have cancer I would rather it be me.” It’s the parent in us all, please God, give ME the pain to relieve my children the agony. As overwhelmed as I have been with grief for this mom and her son, I have felt so blessed that I am the patient.
Over the last two weeks I have seen so much pain and loss. Children of people that I love have lost their parents to accidents and sudden illness that we can not explain on this side of heaven. I was overwhelmed with the thoughts of those innocent children who lost their parents. Then Friday….I have no words… My thoughts were again of innocent children and their parents left behind. As we all did, I hugged my kids tighter and longer, and I felt even more blessed than I had just the minute before. Why? I have no answer. How? I have no answers.
What I know is this, just as I felt when I watched the tears fall from that sweet mom’s face in Philly as she shared with me about her daily struggles, I’m blessed in ways I can not fathom. What we must do is let those tears magnify those around us. Slow down and love on those that surround you, tomorrow is never promised. Today is here.
Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, December 2012