The Husband was working tonight so I heated up some leftover chicken noodle soup for Sophie, Henry and Oliver, and the four of us sat at the island in the kitchen and quietly enjoyed our dinner. After about four spoonfuls or so, though, Sophie began to have a cluster of small seizures and it became increasingly difficult to feed her. Her arms kept flying out and hitting Oliver who sits next to her, and then her head would bob and knock the spoon out of my hand. We're all used to it in a way but then again, it's always upsetting, too. The boys generally continue eating and talking and I try not to get frustrated but sometimes resort to a sharp, "Please, Sophie, enough." That might seem cruel because obviously she can't control it, but there is some evidence that we can interfere with the brain wave pattern and almost shake it out of her. It's almost like the sound of my voice, raised, is different enough that the brain is startled out of its repetitive pattern and looks to work differently. At least in that moment. But I hate speaking sharply to her, and really hate seeing the boys exchange knowing glances at each other over their soup bowls. This is their normal and the life they share is, in some ways, a mystery to me. I have the regular worries that all mothers have for their typical children but I also wonder exactly how much and in what ways their lives are affected by their sister. I could write endlessly on what I've read about siblings of special needs children; for the most part, I feel confident that we've done the "right things" in their short lives.
Tonight, Oliver asked, "Are there any special needs people who learn to talk by the time they get older?"
Henry replied, "Definitely. Remember that lady who was blind and deaf and then she learned how to talk? What was her name, Mom?"
I told him that Helen Keller was certainly an admirable woman and that we should never stop hoping that Sophie would learn to talk, but that as long as she had seizures it would be really, really difficult. I said, "I think we should just hope right now that she'll stop having seizures."
Oliver said, "Oh, she will."
He said it with such certainty that I looked up from my own soup and stared at him. I said, "Really? You really think she might stop having seizures?" And he nodded and said that yes, he just thought that, he didn't know why.
I confess here to a hair-raising thrill, felt on the back of my neck and down my arms. Such is hope and despair in our family that the confident musings of a seven year old are enough to light some sparks deep within me. I actually thought in that moment maybe he knows something, maybe he has a premonition and is speaking Truth. The moment passed and I wiped up all the soup that Sophie had spilled. I admonished the boys for once again not clearing their bowls from the table and all was normal.
But the certitide of that little boy is really something. He's smart, you know, and perceptive and who knows. He might know something, right?