My train stop on Halloween was more than a train stop. Maybe it could have been just a train stop under different circumstances. Perhaps it would have held far less meaning if my bus home wasn’t leaving right when I got off the train. I bet if my kids weren’t waiting at home for me to go trick-or-treating, the train stop could have been just a train stop.
But on this day, my train stop represented a normal life. And I missed it.
I didn’t even recognize that I missed normal when I missed my train stop. Actually, I didn’t know I missed my train stop until about a minute after it was gone. You see, I had an absent seizure.
I heard the announcement for the stop two streets before mine, and then the very next moment I heard the announcement for the street after my stop. This means my seizure lasted about five minutes, which is incredibly long for me.
I was so disoriented from what happened, it took me ten minutes after I deboarded the train to find the station for the train going the other direction. That’s when I had to call my wife, because I knew I was going to miss my bus ride home.
Barbara, I am going to miss my bus.
Oh, are you working late?
No, I missed my train stop because I had a seizure.
Chris, are you okay? Did you…
I’m fine. I just missed my train stop, so I will be home in about 90 minutes.
I know the kids really want you to walk with them when they trick-or-treat.
Yeah, I don’t think that’s a good idea, Barbara.
I suppose you are right. The kids will be disappointed.
I know, Barbara. I know. Do you want me to walk home, so that…
Not today, Chris. I will pick you up. The kids will just have to wait.
See, I missed the train stop that got off at normal. Instead, I am left with the life that makes me lose minutes in my life, makes my kids miss out on walking through the neighborhood with their Daddy, makes my wife worry every day now whether I will miss my bus stop and end up somewhere unexpected.
I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic or negative. I am well aware that my seizure disorder means I will have to live differently than others. There are limits on me that others don’t have to worry about.
Every once in a while, I recognize the cost of my illness on others. Halloween was one of those days for me. I did get home. My kids still walked the neighborhood and had a great time. They still have enough sugar to last the next ninety three years. Everything is fine.
Is there a moment that sticks out in your mind that reminded you that you are not like everyone else?
I hate when things like this happen and there is a spot light on what keeps me from normal. This Halloween was finally our normal moment. Our girls are 8 and 4 and for the first time we took them around to trick or treat. It’s amazing how exhilarating it was to get a taste of normal. I hope that you get more of that soon.
Alanna Menke Cathcart
Oh normal. I remember praying for normal…a lot. I have to daily accept that our family isn’t normal. Having a son with Autism doesn’t allow for that. I think it hits me the most when I see people make last minute plans. That doesn’t work well for us. We have to prepare him. Give a schedule. Do the therapies and exercises. If we leave out those details we are in for a really rough day. I try to soak in the good moments. And in the hard moment look back to that and remember that it will be good again. Loved this post!
My moment came when I was in the ER again, and the doctors said the reason they were keeping me overnight was my high blood pressure and my family history. My family history is one with heart disease, stroke. I’ve been on medication for years and tried feeling normal. But when I’d be getting my blood pressure checked at a clinic, surrounded by people much older than I was, well I felt less than normal. And whenever family health history comes up there it is again, feeling less than normal. But not less than. It’s just a different measuring scale. I’m so glad that God looks at our hearts and not these bodies we wear temporarily. Glad you are okay Chris. And glad your kids had fun gathering the candy.
I think like when I could remember, maybe five. I never fit in. What is normal anyway?
Maybe I am misreading you here, but I feel like you are being dismissive. Am I misunderstanding?
I love that thought Anne — the bodies we wear temporarily. I think I may need to meditate some more of the ideas of a new body, free of wear and tear and sin and brokenness.
As a family, we are learning to soak in the good and remember it later.
Alanna, I really connect with you on the “no last minute plans” thing. My daughter is high functioning, but changes is one area she does not cope well with at all. We do all we can to maintain the calendar the way “it is supposed to be”
Oh Colleen! That is awesome! I saw the pics you posted on FB from that night. So much fun!
We taste normal every once in a while. Honestly, I don’t usually even miss the normal we don’t get. Every once in a while, I notice.
I know I often linger at that thought Chris. It’s a comforting thought isn’t it? One day. We will not tire, we will not have seizures, we will not struggle with depression or anxiety. One day we will be at home in our glorified bodies. Till then, let us be happy renters.
No, I’m sorry it came across that way.
I thought I was reading it wrong. You are most a dismissive person. That’s why I asked. Hope you aren’t offended/irritated I asked here. Guess I could’ve just emailed or FB’ed you 😐
No worries, it’s your blog, you can say, ask, question whatever you want. HA. 🙂
Okay, I’m going out on a limb here, because a blog post has been brewing in my mind. (However, will save it until close to Mother’s day.) I don’t have children. For some reason God chose not to bless me with them. Most of the time, I’m okay with that…until mother’s day rolls around and all the churches do things to honor mothers. I fell left out in the cold. Am I normal?
troy mc laughlin
Chris I love your heart dude. You have many reasons to have such a different outlook on life and what normal should be. Thanks for peeling back the layers of what you go through and sharing them. You allow others to catch their breaths and say “I’m not alone.” In sharing your struggles you give hope to others who may feel hopeless. In sharing that you are missing your “moments” others are able to hold onto the ones they have. Once again thanks friend. #dudewriters4ever
Maybe I am just overly emotional today, but something you said struck a chord deep in my heart. “In sharing that you are missing your moments, others are able to hold onto the ones they have.”
This is part of why I write. Part of the story behind what drives these words out of my heart and onto this page. Thanks!
Wish I had an easy answer for you here. I never know why God puts desires in our heart, and then leaves them unfulfilled. Can’t imagine the annual reminder of your ‘abnormality’ and how difficult that must be to process. I think I’d stay home on Mother’s Day just to avoid it. But I bet it still wouldn’t work.
Truth is, none of us are ‘normal.’ As our friend James Prescott says, normal is a myth. We all strive for this thing that doesn’t even exist. But that doesn’t remove the pain of feeling less-than. Of not measuring up.
You bravery is sharing this is powerful. I hope others take your lead here and share their fear of not being normal here, or somewhere.
I echo Troy’s words today, you “living” out your truths in a way we can relate too just rocks
Thank you Christa. I guess we are bonding over our shared abnormality, aren’t we?
Thank you, Chris. One year after Tribe Writers, I’m learning to be bolder in my posts. Most of the time having children doesn’t bother me. And I know that God knew what he was doing, because if we had a child when we planned, two years later was when John was diagnosed with cancer. It would have made things even more difficult.
I agree with James – normal is a myth. Praying with you that others share there feelings here.
troy mc laughlin
Well you strike chords in others hearts. Your a blessing. Thanks a bunch. Keep sharing your gift of writing others need it.
My life is upside down but nothing like what you are dealing with. No one is normal from the aspect that we are all individuals with different challenges that teach each one the lessons we need to learn.
I am so proud of you for the way you are handling Life!
Praying for patience and strength, trust and love, for all of us!