I yelled up the stairs knowing the sound of the fan in the bedroom made my yelling futile.



God, please let him hear me somehow.


How can I move to get the oxygen?


I fumbled with her head. Ugh – she’s lying in her vomit. I need to get the medicine. This is gonna be a big one. I need to get the oxygen.


Oh yeah – Sarah’s door is open.



Silence. Except the retching. And the gasping to breathe. And the crinkle of the plastic protectors lying under Catherine as I tried to move her body to get ready for the medicine sitting in a drawer a mere eight feet away.


SARAH! PLEASE GO WAKE UP YOUR DADDY! I swear she’s three years old going on sixteen and sleeps just like a teenager.


Set her down and just go get the oxygen and medicine. But what if she rolls off the bed? I can’t put her on her back.


Oxygen first or medicine? Medicine.


At least she pooped last night the nurse just told me in report, so the medicine will get in there and work really fast, I hope.


KY or the stuff in the box? The stuff in the box. I don’t have time to see if the KY is where it’s supposed to be.




“Why, Mommy?”


I finally hear the little voice. Instead of relief, I’m perplexed. Why? What do you mean, Why?




“But why?”


Geez. How do I explain because Catherine needs oxygen since she’s turning blue? How do I explain a seizure? This will be the first one she sees in full force, I think. I just stumble…


“Because I need help, please.”


Sure enough, mere moments later, Brian rushed down, rubbing his eyes, wondering what he could do. By then, I had the oxygen cannula in Catherine’s nose. She was still in the bed, but the medicine was starting to work. The retching had calmed – at least for the moment. But her eyes were still shaking. Her body still quivered.


And I wondered to myself – yeah, what can he do? The reality is that that question sat beneath all my futile yelling up the stairs, around a wall and past a very loud fan purposely blowing to drown out the sounds of nurses moving around overnight.


There wasn’t much he could do by the time he got downstairs. He changed her linens as I held her. He gave me a towel to wipe her mouth. But mostly, he was just there.


A moment later, the retching started again. He was sitting on the bed beside us while I cradled Catherine in the rocking chair. As I leaned forward to put her body in a better position to vomit, he held her head. It really was helpful. Just by being present, he had helped. And then, because he was present, he was truly able to help – both Catherine and me.


After it all subsided, I went to wash out the tray in the kitchen sink. And there I realized that despite my ferocious independence – I really do want help.

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  1. Oh my, Ellen. I’m so sorry. I am praying that Catherine gets through this rough spot. You are an amazingly strong woman; I admire you so much. But you are right-we need help. God gave us our spouses for a reason. Your words resonate deep with me-having Jason by my side when going through something rough makes all the difference. I hope and pray that you are all able to get some much needed rest. Blessings to your family.

    1. Seeing you smile and hearing you sing is a wonderful gift. Won’t be there this Sunday, but another day… Thanks for reading!!!

  2. Even Jesus needed help and asked for it. In the midst of his grief and sorrow just before he was arrested, while he was praying, he asked his closest disciples to be with him. They couldn’t really “do” anything for him, but he wanted them near. (Matthew 26:36)

    We are built to be connected to others – it is how God created us to be. We are not supposed to be isolated, autonomous beings who function independently of others. Our interdependence on one another is at the core of who we are. Some say that we are only fully ourselves when we are in relationship with others.

    I’m so glad that you and Brian have one another – and that Catherine has all 3 of you. I’m also grateful for the wonderful community of folks who love and care for all of you.


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