Finding Light on a Dark Day

It happened in August 2017. I had just entered my home after completing an uncommonly early work day when my wife called. Her voice was frightening, frantic, and shaken. When she was finally able to communicate her thoughts clearly she said, “they can’t wake him up!” I eventually realized my wife was referring to my only son who was unresponsive after taking a routine nap at daycare. I immediately rushed to the daycare and witnessed my son progress from being unresponsive to having his first of many seizures. In the moment, I felt calm as I communicated with the teachers, coordinated with the medical personnel, and updated my wife. Although I was fairly uncertain, I recall telling my wife, “everything will be ok.”

Once the dust settled later that evening and we all were home, I retreated to my room. I was overwhelmed with emotions as I sobbed on the bedroom floor. Amongst other things, we had just lived through a miscarriage a couple of months prior, and I was just understanding that as a father I have the right to grieve this loss. My sadness quickly turned into embarrassment and outrage as I questioned how I could allow my family to experience such traumatic events within a short time period. That night I laid there alone—wallowing in despair, regret, anguish, embarrassment, and pain. I felt as if I were sinking into the floor, and it seemed the darkness of my thoughts synced with the darkness of the night.

I shamelessly admit I needed that dark moment because that moment helped me to realize I cannot traverse the challenges of life alone. Our family and friends surrounded us to comfort and console us, but one of my brothers gave me profound advice that not only got me through this season, but it set me on a lifelong journey to build, maintain, and guard my mental, spiritual, and emotional health. I greatly value(d) his opinion, because he previously lost a child after his twins were born at only twenty-three weeks. He told me, “it’s ok to want to be strong and protect your family, but do not allow your internal desire to ‘be strong’ to drive a wedge between you and the family you are trying to protect.” Then he encouraged me by saying, “do your best to positively influence the things you can control, and give yourself a break for the things you cannot.”

In the end, although my son was diagnosed with epilepsy, he has not had a seizure in over a year. Additionally, we birthed a beautiful daughter in December 2018. Lastly, I learned a lifelong lesson about resiliency and how to lead my family through challenging times. In my darkest moments when I consider quitting, I realize I am mentally, spiritually, and emotionally strong. I will not quit! I will not give up! I will positively influence the things I can control and give myself a break for the things I cannot. If I can do it, so can you.

Author: Olaolu