Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Angina Pectoris

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Angina Pectoris



On Monday I received a card in the mail from one of the wonderful new friends I have made through our experience with Erik. It was a complete surprise, and I found myself standing speechless in the middle of my kitchen, holding it in my hands with pure happiness washing over me like a warm ocean wave and tears trailing down my cheeks. If I look back on the past four months, I would estimate that the months of April and May were filled with nothing but gut-wrenching despair for me. I was simply not capable of feeling anything but pain as my brain absorbed what had silently occurred to my child genetically during my pregnancy. I remember sitting down at our little kitchen table with my dinner plate and feeling pathetic because I was not able to cease crying long enough to even take a bite of food. Thankfully, I was brave enough to order the Fulfilling Dreams handbook from WSA and read that it was normal to "feel like a black sack has been pulled over your head" after receiving the shocking news of this diagnosis. It was strange to read that this compellingly attractive desire to lie down and never get up was perfectly normal and even expected for parents like us. In those days not long ago, when I did finally sleep, I would dream Erik was smiling, walking, or talking, only to awaken to find that they were only cruel apparitions that seemed to be manufactured for the sole purpose of self-torture. During the day, I felt I was immersed in a living, waking nightmare with no end in sight. These days, my nightmares have shifted to my sleeping hours once again. They are terrible, but they are only nightmares. Sometimes they are bad enough I have to get up, go into the bathroom, and sit on the edge of the tub with the cool tile under my feet to shock me back into my now much less horrible reality. My heart now swells with happiness on a regular basis when I am awake, and my capacity for feeling emotion seems more acute than ever. Yesterday was a day full of joyful moments. For example, I drove Erik home from his grandparents' house, and when I turned to check on him in the back seat while we were detained at a stoplight, he gave me one of his million-dollar smiles that made me laugh out loud once again. It is probably not socially acceptable to announce that your own child gets cuter every day, but he honestly does! On top of everything, the card from my new friend was waiting for me when we arrived home. At this point, there are so many emotions running rampant in me that I sometimes feel they are overloading my circuitry. Is it humanly possible to feel jump-up-and-down joy and excruciating heartache cram-packed in the very same moment? I have read about other countries and cultures labeling such dichotomous emotions and feelings with words that have no equivalent in the English language, and I wonder if this particular feeling of mine has been given a name somewhere in the world. In all of my life, I have never felt anything remotely like this. There are many multifaceted emotions in me that have no name, and I am feeling several of them at once in a bittersweet mixture that pools in the core of me. My chest actually physically ached last night for an hour or two every time I thought of all that has happened in the past few months. It was throbbing heartache combined with pure elation, and I felt like I was going to spontaneously combust. These days I feel utterly cursed yet blessed beyond measure at the same time. It is the sensation of breaking out in goose bumps while singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" at a football game and yet having a grief-heavy, crisply folded triangle of American flag from atop a coffin handed to me rolled into one feeling. Can you feel something horrible and wonderful at the same time? It is now possible for me, and I am actually grateful for this part of the human experience. Without the depth of the agony I have experienced, I would never have known the dizzying heights of the joy I feel at times. My senses now seem razor sharp for the first time, and I have a newfound capacity for enjoying life like never before. I have never felt so absolutely alive.

4 Comments:

Blogger Aspen said...

Oh how I truly love you and Erik with all my heart! I can say nothing other than "diddo!" You are a most cherished friend and will continue to be for as long life bestows us. I can only now wait until I can give you a hug (I am sure with tear filled eyes) and look at that precious boy in the eye and tell him how much joy he has brought me over the past few months!

Thank you for the hope you have brought to me. I know our boys will be great friends!

3:35 PM  
Blogger Lisa R said...

Nancy, I am Sitting at my computer with Tatum on my lap, I look at her and wonder if my new friends are the reason for this experience. That was so beautiful, thank you for your blog.

Love, lisa

4:33 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

First off, the picture should be captioned with what Erik is saying, "Mine, This is my green shirt." What a cutie! I would have his pics covering all my walls!

Secondly, and of course more importantly, it's so very true about these mixes of emotions we have... can you imagine Erik any different than who he is, but then again why does he have to have WS? I am so glad your days are more joyous now. Although I'm sure it's hard to be sad looking into those adorable eyes. :)

9:14 PM  
Blogger PASLAY'S FROM IDAHO said...

HEY NANCE,
AFTER READING THIS LAST ENTRY, ESPECIALLY THE LAST COUPLE OF LINES, I BEGAN DAY DREAMING OF YOU DOING A MARY TYLER MOORE MOVE... SKIPPING THROUGH THE STREETS OF BEND AND AT THE END OF YOUR JOURNEY YOU THROW YOUR HAT IN THE AIR!! I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU GIRL!! I KNOW THAT YOU KNOW THAT I AM ALWAYS HERE FOR YOU AND THAT I LOVE YOU AND AM SO BLESSED TO HAVE YOU IN MY LIFE AS MY SISTER-N-LAW BUT EVEN MORE BLESSED TO HAVE YOU AS A DEAR FRIEND! I AM ALSO SO HAPPY THAT THE LORD HAS ANSWERED MY PRAYER AND HAS BROUGHT INTO YOUR LIFE SOME PRECIOUS GEMS... MOMMIES OF CHILDREN WITH WILLIAMS. I KNOW THAT I CAN'T EVEN BEGIN TO START UNDERSTANDING WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN AND WHERE YOU HAVE COME FROM... BUT THESE MOMMIES/GIRLFRIENDS DO IN SOME WAY OR ANOTHER AND I AM SO THANKFUL THAT THESE WOMEN AND YOU ARE BUILDING SOME EVERLASTING RELATIONSHIPS!! HATS OFF TO YOU AND YOUR NEW GIRLFRIENDS! I ADMIRE YOU ALL!!!
BIG HUGS,
DAWNITA :)

3:58 PM  

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