Still Standing

By Laura Edwards

It’s been one of those weeks for me. They come along every once in awhile. My tears are threatening an uprising.

I cried all the time back in 2006, when we learned Taylor has infantile Batten disease. One early evening, I started crying without warning as I stood at my kitchen counter making macaroni and cheese, listening to music and watching the sun tuck into the clouds behind the trees in my backyard. I sank down to the floor and stayed there with my back against the dishwasher and my bare feet on the cold tile floor as hot tears soaked my shirt and my shoulders shook. I didn’t know what made me cry at that moment, and I didn’t know how to stop. So I just cried until I didn’t have any tears left.

After a 5K fundraiser one cool, rainy Saturday morning the following spring, I held the hand of a boy with juvenile Batten disease for 30 minutes. I knew Seth wouldn’t be able to see my tears, but I still held them in until after I’d walked away. And as soon as I did, that was it for me. I took my mom by the arm, and we found my car and drove home. I climbed the stairs to my bonus room, closed the blinds and slept on the couch for five solid hours. And I NEVER sleep during the day.

Somewhere along the way, my life before Batten disease dropped out of sight in the rear-view mirror. I cried less and less. Mostly, I stayed angry. I’m still angry, which is good in a way, because it makes me want to fight like hell. Sadness doesn’t get me anywhere. Lately, I’m feeling worn down, so the sadness is back. When I feel it creep into the corners of my eyes, I run if possible. I love to run for many reasons, one of which is that it makes me feel powerful. Each time my ruined feet and ankles pound against the pavement, I beat back the tide.

Mostly, it’s working. I cry very little, but when I do – it’s epic.

I don’t know where I am or how I got here. If you’ve lived my story, you understand the source of my doubts.

Originally this line said that I don’t know how I’m still standing, but I deleted it. Because I DO know.

I’m standing because of my family. Tragedy generally does one of two things to relationships: tear them apart or super-glue them together. Tragedy sucks, but it’s still been my super-glue. I love being in the same room as the people I love, and I’d walk through fire for them.

I’m standing because of my sister – my hero for the ages. She has the most evil, unfathomable disease on the face of the earth; it belongs in hell. She can’t see, and she can’t always say what she’s thinking. But today, she gave an awesome presentation on Moby Dick. Tonight, she helped me push our cart through the grocery store – while singing a Bee Gees song. And for the first time all day, I really laughed.

Most of all, I’m standing because of faith. This past Christmas, a dear friend gave me a necklace with these words:

“FAITH is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.”  –Helen Keller

With the passing of each day, Taylor’s survival falls somewhere farther away from logic. But as long as I’m surrounded by angels, I’ll believe.

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