Wednesday, February 5, 2014


My cousin Laura had her first seizure seven years ago.  It was one week before her sister's wedding and just a few days after we signed the lease on the two bedroom apartment we planned to share.  No one could explain the seizure.  She'd never had one before.  Suddenly she could no longer drive, could not be left alone for extended periods of time, had to drop out of school, and I had to find a new roommate.  The doctors didn't have an explanation other than it could happen again at any time.  Her life changed completely.  Even so, she felt confident it was a fluke and would never happen again.
Seven years later, she still has seizures.  If she goes a month without one, it's a really good month.  The doctors still don't know why and they've struggled to keep them under control.  They also don't know why at least 30 lesions now appear on her brain scans.  Are they causing the seizures?  Are they a result of the seizures?  Where did they come from?  How can we make them go away?  Will they go away?
We're the same age.  When we were in our early 20s, we dreamed together and laughed together and played together.  She introduced me to Joe.  Some of my best early 20s stories, the ones that make me laugh the hardest, involve Laura.  Then my life kept going and hers got put on pause.  The seizures and the lesions have taken their toll on her memory and her speech.  Even so, despite how hard it must be, she has cheered me on and celebrated with me and been one of my biggest supporters.  She is and has always been light to me.  Her easy laugh and ever-constant quest for fun has never stopped.  She reminds me to have fun.  And I so need to be reminded to have fun.
At my wedding - Laura is the beautiful blonde on the left.
Two weekends ago, she checked into a hospital in NYC to have a brain biopsy.  The doctors had wanted to do it for a while, but her family was too nervous.  The idea of drilling a hole and inserting a needle into her brain?  Awful.  But the need for answers and explanations and for hope eventually prevailed.  Her body has been through so much and is so strong, but she's also fragile. 
When they tried to bring her out of sedation, she had a seizure.  So they kept her heavily sedated longer than expected to give her brain time to heal.  I went to see her on day two of sedation.  They had taken her off the sedation drugs that morning and we were waiting and praying for her to wake up with no seizures and no complications.  It was awful and scary.  She's my age.  She shouldn't be in a hospital bed hooked up to countless tubes and machines.  This beautiful, vibrant, light-filled girl should be anywhere but here.  I held her hand and rubbed her arm and talked to her and prayed and cried a little and told her jokes, making the assumption she could hear everything and knew we were there. 
As if that wasn't enough for one family, the day after Laura's biopsy, her older sister Kim went into labor with her 4th baby.  So Kim was in one hospital near where we live and Laura was 90 miles away in another hospital in NYC.  Their poor mama simultaneously over the moon with joy and scared to death. 
A mere week later, only SEVEN DAYS later, I was in Kim's bedroom with Laura and Kim's 6 year old daughter, Sophia.  Kim was in an armchair in the corner feeding new baby Jackson and Laura and I were having a tickle fight with Sophia on the bed.  A tickle fight.  Seven days before we were watching her, trying to will her to respond to us when we said her name. 
Joe holding the new baby.  That's Laura next to him, perfectly wonderful.
The wonder and the warmth and the happiness of that tickle fight.  I don't even know how to express it.  Grateful.  Hopeful.  Happy.  All will be well.  Believe it.
I love this girl.
Life, you guys.  Its moments.  In the seven days between, I went to work and came home and watched TV and went to sleep and went through the motions.  But those two singular moments on Saturday, January 25, 2014 and Saturday, February 1, 2014 were LIFE like whoa.