good life by stephanie vetne
Part of cultivating a good life is learning to let go of fear.
When my daughter, Elizabeth, was five, she had a seizure in my arms. Through the haze of those first terrifying moments, the moments afterwards on the phone with 911, and through the confusion of the ride to the hospital in the ambulance, part of me knew that we were embarking on something we hadn’t known before.
Within three months, she had another seizure and we knew that the unknown now had a name. Epilepsy. We quickly learned so many new things – types of seizures, types of medications, and what might be triggers for her. All while trying to maintain some type of normalcy for Elizabeth while she navigated kindergarten.
The fear of the unknown was almost crippling for me during that first year. Would she have a seizure at school? What if she was on the stairs when she had a seizure? What if she fell and hit her head? What if she was alone in the bathroom and had a seizure? And on and on. I was consumed by my fears.
But not Elizabeth. She woke up every day with a smile on her face and skipped down the corridor towards her kindergarten classroom, happy to just spend the day with her beloved teacher and her friends. She knew she might have a seizure, but she didn’t let the fear and the worry stop her from living her life. The more I watched her handle her diagnosis with such bravery and courage, the more I realized that I had to follow her example. She was teaching me more about living than any book ever could.
That first year was the hardest and we certainly haven’t handled everything since then without fear. She’s had good years and bad years with her health. But trying to control the future is impossible and she shows me every single day that you can’t let the fear of the unknown paralyze you and stop you from living your life. She puts on her backpack every day and walks away from the safety of our house and into the unknown, putting a smile on her face instead of letting the fear hold her back.
This August will mark the nine-year anniversary of Elizabeth’s first seizure. Instead of navigating kindergarten, she’ll be learning to navigate the halls of high school for the first time. My fears haven’t gone away and I know her fears haven’t gone away. But by not letting those fears control her, she has found the ability to face each day with a smile.
Stephanie is a part of our 2015 Creative Team. She lives in Indiana with her husband, three children, one crazy dog, and her cat.