algernon

A few nights ago, I was haunted by ghosts of the past. I dreamed that June had a seizure: A reminder that the rhythmic bursts I saw in her infancy will always be with me. They’ll always haunt me. They’ll always be crawling just beneath my skin, just beneath the covers. There are medications that can sometimes control seizures, but no (ethical) drugs that can control our dreams or our memories.

In my nightmare, her body became a victim, as the air around her worked to revive her with the gusts of an ethereal defibrillator. A ghost was shaking her violently with the measured beat of his heart. I could see her eyes very vividly in this dream. I could see them fixed on the ceiling and I could see the ceiling absent in her eyes - as if she were looking past it into heaven. She always looks like she’s in another place when she’s having a seizure. I always miss her. I’m always so afraid she will never come back.

Fear is the nightmare's natural instrument. It plays inside the mind. Sometimes in repetition, sometimes raw and sometimes it combines the two for something truly marring, something bone-deep. This nightmare was one of those for me.

It had been nearly a year since June last had a seizure and there, right before my eyes, she was slipping back into it. My heart was breaking. I had that same helpless feeling I’d had during the Myoclonic seizures of her infancy, only this time it was worse. Because my dream was one of those that feels like it’s happening in the present time, with all the past still attached. I could feel the great love she has built in me over the last year. The fear of losing parts of her was even greater than before.

I already knew it would be this way if June ever experienced seizures again. Something more would be taken away from me.

 
 

One of the most heartbreaking books I’ve ever read is called “Flowers for Algernon.” Like many others, I read it grade school. The story is about how much more difficult it can be to lose something you have, than to never have had it at all (skip the next paragraph if you’ve read it).

”Flowers for Algernon” is about an attempt to cure an intellectual “disability” and it’s underl message is profound. In the book,  scientists inject a mouse with a new medication that increases its intelligence dramatically.  With successful results, they then apply the medication to human with intellectual challenges. At first, both the mouse and the man excel intellectually. As time wears on, however, the IQ of the mouse slowly begins to wane.  It becomes clear that the “degradation” will soon happen in the man as well. He will lose what he had gained. He must face the despair of loss, something he hadn’t had to face before the medication. 

Juniper is my Algernon and it is love for one another that we have gained. In my recent nightmare, I was terrified of losing any part of our connection as her seizures continued to occur, uncontrolled. It seemed even harder to watch her seizures, even harder than before, because I love her even more. It's not that I didn't love her in her infancy. I did, of course, but not like I do now. Now, she's too much a part of my life. She's too much a part of me.

Your children start out as a product of you and they become a part of you. 

Every little bit of Juniper and Laurel that I have fallen in love with is so important to me. I can't bear the thought of losing any of it.

I woke up badly shaken from my nightmare. My body had reacted by releasing sweat and adrenaline. I got up and peeked in on the girls. They lay quietly and peacefully in their cribs. Though they did not react to me and did not move, I could feel their presence in the room. I could feel all the love I have for each of them.

Seizure or no seizure, all the love was still there.