Courtney was three we moved once again. This time we headed south and
Jerry served aboard the USS Enterprise for the next three years. Virginia Beach was a beautiful place to live and while there, Jonathan received his First Communion.
The day dawned sunny and beautiful. I dressed my little man in the required suit and tie. Miss Courtney was in a dress I had made with my own hands. I wanted things just right. I had become a control freak in recent months. I could not control one darn thing about Courtney’s seizures, but Jonathan’s world, It was all neat and tidy, even tied up with a bow.
We sat in the base chapel, the kids processed in and the Mass began. I watched my son, my baby boy, receive Our
Lord for the first time and my heart broke wide open. I was completely
unprepared for how I felt in that moment. Here was my son, growing up right before my eyes, moving forward with his life and his sister was just stuck.
She would never know Jesus like Jonathan did that day. She would never walk down the aisle in a white dress and veil as a child or as an adult. I looked over at her in her pink wheelchair and I felt such a crushing weight come down on me and I just sat down. My Mom thought I was going to faint. I assured her that I was fine but I wasn’t.
I would not be fine ever again. How was I supposed to be fine with all of this? My daughter would never walk. She would never talk. She would never have the life I dreamed of for her. I was broken into pieces under the weight of this knowledge. I tried to keep the tears from falling so I didn’t alarm anyone, but I was beginning to lose the battle.
I watched my son sing his heart out during that Mass. His smile was as wide as the Mississippi River after he received the Lord. I was so proud of him, so happy for him.
My daughter would never have the same opportunity and I could not handle it in that moment. What was I supposed to do with all of those broken pieces of my heart? How was I supposed to be OK with this. I looked up at the Crucifix and knew the answer in my head but I wasn’t ready to accept it in my heart. Not by a long shot.
I went through the motions for the rest of the weekend. I smiled for photos and met all my hostess responsibilities and when Monday arrived I collapsed and let the emotions I had been holding back roll over me like a tidal wave with no breaker. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t and wouldn’t accept what the doctors had told us then and what they were still telling us now.
I wanted it all to be different. I wanted a miracle. I wanted the suffering and the seizures to be gone forever. As I laid my head down on my bed I looked up and laid my eyes on a picture of the Madonna of the Streets. It once hung in my Grandmother Stuecken’s bedroom and now it hung in mine. I studied the Madonna’s face and how she held her son close to her chest as if to ward off the wind or any threat that would dare come for her child.
I felt that same way about my children. I wanted them safe and well. I wanted to protect them form any pain or hurt. I was so tired of the pain in my heart. So tired of the sleepless nights and the constant panic that was just outside my peripheral view at all times, ready to swoop in when Courtney’s seizures would come.
I closed my eyes and whispered my prayers to Mother Mary. I begged her to make it stop, the merry-go-round of fear and panic, sadness and pain, loneliness and isolation that were my constant companions. I poured my heart out and prayed through all of it.
I opened my eyes and my companions were still present but my chest didn’t feel like an elephant was standing on it anymore. I could breathe, shallowly but I could do it. My prayers were not answered in that moment but I felt like I could get up and make it through the day.
I realized that was all God was asking of me. To get through the day. Yesterday was gone, tomorrow had not arrived. I was to stay in the moment and just get through what needed to happen that Monday. I knew I could do at least that.
Pray with me won’t you;
Dearest Mother Mary,
Your Son has promised to never leave my side. He tells me in His holy word that if I “Cast your fears on the Lord and he will sustain you.” (Psalms 55:22). I am tired and I am sad. I can’t carry this weight your son has asked me to carry. I look around and all I see is what cannot be. All I see is what the doctors say is impossible. I need it to not hurt anymore. I need my heart to be whole again. I need my life to be whole again, yet I know it is not to be. I know that your Son sees everything and I only see what is right in front of me. He knows what is best for me, help me to accept what is best for me. Help me to see my life the way God sees it.
We ask this in the name of your son Jesus,