I probably did not react in the best manner . . . duh!
Coming in the front door of the house I was greeted by one son holding a rag to his bleeding head, the other son over by the stove in the kitchen sweeping the glass up off the floor. Behind the son sweeping the floor was the busted glass front of the stove. Zero to sixty in seconds flat! That is how I reacted . . . I lost it . . . I was angry. Angry over what, I wasn’t sure, but I was sure I was angry. I blew up and, I blew it.
It has been said that we save the best . . . and, the worse . . . for those we love the most. I won’t disagree with that statement one bit. Whenever anyone I love—family or friend—is threatened or hurt, I Incredible Hulk out. I go on the attack . . . I am ready for a fight . . . ready to hurt whoever or whatever it is that has hurt my loved one. I shoot first and ask questions later. Not the best response mechanism . . . especially plays havoc on one’s blood pressure, but I have been that way all of my life. Seeing the scene . . . I Hulked out. For better or worse, I got angry.
Anger . . . yeah, there was yelling. Anger . . . there was stomping around. Anger . . . there were profane words thrown out. Anger . . . and, there was some more yelling. Of course, none of this helps the situation. The situation was that the younger son, who has Epilepsy, was rounding the corner in the kitchen, by the stove, had a seizure, fell down, hit the glass in the stove door (the whole front of the oven is glass), and shattered it all. He scraped his head (thus the rag over the head), cut his elbow, but was okay otherwise . . . oh sure, he was upset and frustrated, but he was okay. The other son was being helpful, had helped his brother, and was cleaning up the mess. Of course, the anger I was exhibiting was not actually helping . . . no one was being protected, no one was being rescued . . . it was pure unadulterated angry . . . a regular ol’ hissy fit!
In the process of un-Hulking, a myriad of emotions, feelings, and thoughts go through my rock garden of a mind . . . primarily how stupidly I had acted or reacted . . . embarrassed more or less . . . and, remorseful. When everyone, my children, needed the best, they got the worse . . . and, yeah, I love them to the bottom of my heart and beyond. Reconciliation was necessary and needed . . .
. . . so, I apologized.
I was not angry at my sons . . . I wanted to protect them from what hideous thing it was that had threatened them. I was relieved that no one was hurt any worse than they were . . . it could have been worse. I was not angry that the stove door now was broken and needed to be replaced at several hundreds of dollars . . . stove doors are cheap in comparison of replacing a child or a relationship with a child. But, I had been angry. Before I could apologize I had to know and understand the source of my anger.
The family, more the wife and I, have been dealing with our son’s Epilepsy for over 18 long years. We have endured countless sleepless nights . . . more visits to hospital emergency rooms than we can count. We have watched this disability wrack our son’s body and life for years and years. We have witnessed numerous IV lines shoved into his arm . . . endured every drug he has taken to combat the Epilepsy . . . and, helpless stood by and watched as they cut open his head, messed around his brain, and sewed him up. We have stood by our son as he was bullied through school, ignored by teachers who were ignorant of the disability, forgotten by those who should care, and given the run around by countless organizations designated to help. And . . . nothing has changed in over 18 years.
The form of Epilepsy our son suffers from is a cruel form . . . a silent culprit that shows no rhyme or reason to its activity. Someone once asked me to describe what it was like . . . all I could say is that it was like someone sneaking up behind you with a baseball bat and hitting you in the head when you least expect it. Knocking you flat. Depending on which medical expert you want to quote, the cause of Epilepsy is unknown in 70 to 90 percent of the cases . . . our son’s is in that “unknown” category. Yet, one has to grasp for whatever hope there is whether it is 30 percent or ten percent. After 18 years of treatment nothing has changed . . . despite the huge amount of money that we have spent . . . despite countless doctors and experts . . . despite every conceivable drug . . . neurological surgery . . . counseling. It has been a long, frustrating journey . . . and, we have not even begun to see the end.
What broke the dam? What brought on the flood of anger? Hmmmm . . . I wonder . . . maybe countless years of frustration. Frustration that goes beyond my own son’s Epilepsy . . . frustration of having two brothers with disabilities as I grew up . . . frustration of having to relive all the problems again . . . with no solutions, no answers. My brothers are both still alive, living productive lives . . . but my sister has sacrificially taken care of them for years as I have never lived close to my family since graduating from high school. I stand in amazement and awe of her ability to do it. I was angry, and my anger was at the Epilepsy. A never-ending curse upon our lives.
As Christians we are urged by popular thought to think and believe that God does not give us any more than we can handle in life . . . phfttt! That is nonsense. I think God would even agree . . . sometimes life is just more than any of us can handle. I don’t blame God. First of all, God did not do this. Secondly, the wife and I have not committed some terrible sin that has brought this upon us or our son. It is not God’s fault, nor is it our fault. These were just the cards that we were dealt . . . and, these are the cards we have to play. As much as it sucks . . . well, it sucks.
I have never pulled a Job on God. I have never ranted and raved at God as to why this was happening to any of us. As I said, God didn’t do it. It is just what it is. We—the wife and I—have never blamed God. But, God has caught our anger . . . and, God understands our anger. God understands because it angers God, too. The problem is that I don’t like the fact that there are no answers . . . I don’t like that there is no pill that cures the disability . . . I don’t like that my son has to struggle so hard every day just to have a so-called normal day that the rest of us take for granted . . . I don’t like the way that people treat my son and have exiled him to the borders of life and society . . . it sucks and it make me angry.
And, so, I went to apologize. First, to the son with Epilepsy. I explained that I was not mad at him . . . poop happens and we are fairly used to it happening with the Epilepsy. I explained that I was not mad about the stove door . . . hey, what is a couple of hundred dollars when we know that he was okay. And, I admitted that I screwed up, wanted to protect him from the enemy . . . but, because there was no enemy to attack, the worse was dumped on him and his brother. I was so, so sorry.
Then, I went and apologized to his brother. These two have a difficult “love/hate” relationship . . . at times there is no love lost between them. I explained the same things to him . . . apologized profusely. This is the son, who over the last couple of months hasn’t been the most loving towards his brother (and vice-a-versa), came to his brother’s need . . . helped him, cared for him, and cleaned up his brother’s mess. He lived what he always proclaims, “Family comes first.” I was proud of him . . . and, proud of his brother for letting him help when he needed someone.
The Hulk has crawled back into that deep, dark place to hide . . . to hide the next time I perceive a threat to those I love. I hope the Hulk stays there for awhile . . . I don’t enjoy the Hulk when he appears in my form. And, the weird thing, which is what stresses the Hulk so much (I think), is that the whole time it is happening we both know how helpless we are in stopping it. We just lose it . . . right or wrong.
I am not alone . . . I know that. I have known that since I was a small child. There are many others who deal with the disabilities of their children . . . and, their own disabilities. There are others who don’t understand the question of why . . . nor the silence that answers their questions. Others who suffer for their children . . .
No, I am not alone . . . but so often it feels as if I am. Forgotten. Ignored. And, that too, is a part of the anger. God understands and weeps with me. Yeah, I did not react in the best manner, but I reacted in a very human manner . . . those who love me understand even if I, myself, don’t. For that I am thankful for the love and grace of family.