In July 2009 while in my first trimester of pregnancy, I started having unexplained seizures. This is part 1 of the series that recounts that time. Read the intro here:
I shall drive my chariot down your streets and cry
It’s me I’m dynamite and I don’t know why
And you shall take me strongly in your arms again
And I will not remember that I ever felt the pain
An activity book of word searches sat on the coffee table. It was a recent Saturday morning and Tony’s mother watched Desmond for us the day before. I figured she came upon the book trying to find something to do while Des was napping. I flipped through the pages and noticed something odd. Only single letters were circled, not whole words in long skinny ovals like you would usually see. Huh. Must be a different way of solving these things.
“Ton, I think your mom is a secret agent sending messages to the government.”
I showed him the book.
He tried to find a connection between the words given and the letters circled. Maybe she only circled the first letters of the words. Or the letters that were not included. It didn’t make sense. We were both perplexed, but we put the book down and didn’t think about it again.
Next Saturday came. Tony was feeding Desmond at the kitchen table. Peaches and yogurt and waffle. Daddy wasn’t putting the waffle pieces down fast enough and Des was letting him know with all sorts of excited “Ahh”s and “Guhh”s.
“One at a time, little man,” Tony said.
I sipped my coffee. The word search caught my eye on the coffee table.
“Hey Ton, did you ask your mom about the book?”
“Shoot, I forgot.”
“No big deal. Just curious.”
Later that night, after the baby was asleep and we were lounging on the couch watching TV, Tony picked up the book.
“Hm. These form words. Something is spelled out. ‘These… last… few… days…”
I peeked over his shoulder and we read it together, out loud, connecting the scattered letters slowly.
“Have… been… scary.”
He closed it. We both remembered something at the same time. This book was given to me last year when I was in the hospital, 14 weeks pregnant and having unexplained seizures. A 911 call, frantic ER trip, 2 ambulance rides, 5 days in the hospital, so many doctors, and countless tests. Tony never left my side.
It’s a 2-3 week timeframe of which I remember very little. But in a rare reversal of roles, this was something that Tony had forgotten about.
“I did this in the hospital one night. I couldn’t sleep.”
I could tell he was embarrassed. That I had found something he wrote and that he had forgotten he wrote it in the first place. I asked if I could read the entire thing. He said yes, somewhat reluctantly. I pieced together the letters to form the words at a slow, halting pace in my head…
“Sarah, I love you more than words can describe. I would not know what to do with myself if something were to happen to you. These last few days have been scary for me. I can only imagine how hard they’ve been for you. We’ll get through this together and be stronger because of it. Sleep well, my love. Love, Tony”
Tears fell out of my eyes. I pictured him sitting in the dark next to me as I slept in the hospital bed, circling these letters, one at a time in a puzzle book.
I felt so sorry and guilty for putting him through it all. The word “scary” was ringing in my ears. I recall at the time feelings of confusion, anxiety, exhaustion. He was scared. Maybe it wasn’t the first time he shared that feeling with me, but it’s the first time it sunk in. Like a 2x4 to the face.
Not so much here, or here, but riiiight here. Bam.
Then, pushing through that helpless guilt came a profound sense of gratitude, humility, and love. I couldn’t hug my husband long or tight enough to express it. If I could, I would just hold on to him with both arms forever.
When I told him I was going to write about this, he said there was more to read than just the puzzle book. Soon after it happened, Tony had typed up a full detailed account of everything. He never told me about it until now. Apparently my husband had painted the picture I had been looking for all this time. Now I was finally ready to see it.
Reading it was like looking into someone else’s life. I guess I hadn’t realized just how little I remembered. There were tiny moments I could recall through my eyes, like photographs, but most of it I saw for the first time through his. And that’s when I understood how truly scary it all was.
Continued in Part 2...