Sometimes plans fall apart

My family’s life is pretty much a textbook case for “you can do everything right and things can still go wrong.”

The latest thing to make me want to say this is the way Mother’s Day went this year. I found this fabulous gift of tremendous family significance and zero interest to anyone else, and found a great card and packed it up and shipped it and it went over great.

I also orchestrated gifts from my sister. Her staffers all got involved and listened to my suggestion to make Lily responsible for making, selecting, and/or wrapping something. I was pleased that they managed some lovely options.

So I got a thrilled phone call from my mom, thanking me for her gift, and we chatted for a few minutes. She mentioned that Lily had been weepy when Mom had stopped by a bit earlier to drop off some groceries; when I called Lily a bit later, she was in quite a state. A calm conversation quickly turned into me and Lily’s staffer trying to quiet her screaming. Mom suspects that Lily is in the throes of PMS, and so may be susceptible to seizures. Seizures of all sorts – we think some of her “bad behavior” is just the wrong part of her brain being affected.

I called to be part of family dinner and Mom opening Lily’s gifts, and Lily had not improved, and kept yelling. All of my joy and triumph dissolved almost instantly. And with that came something that I’ve finally learned to recognize and process: when all of the attention shifts to Lily because she is suffering (and it’s clear from her tone of voice that she was), I revert to being a small child, frozen with fear. My instinct is to hold still, to be silent.

I don’t know if it’s like this for other sibs. I hope it’s not. It’s very frustrating to see your behavior reverting to that of a scared five-year-old, on top of feeling helpless when it comes to relieving the pain and confusion of a loved one.


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