My little sister Lindsey has had Lennox-Gastaut syndrome since she was four. Her story is many things but it’s consistently been one of laughter unexpectedly weaving its way into circumstances, providing the most unlikely but necessary relief and perspective.
About my sophpomore year of high school, Lindsey became increasingly aware of how very different she was from those around her. Her friends could go to slumber parties on the weekend, she still had to sleep with a baby monitor in her room so my parents could hear if she had a seizure. My sister Ashley and I could drive, she would have to go six months without a seizure before this could even be in the realm of possibility. These things among many others began to weigh heavily on her, leading to a long night of sobbing, wanting to know why God would allow her to have seizures and thus prevent her from being like the other kids.
My parents have always tried to treat Lindsey just like every other child, never extending or expecting special treatment unless absolutely necessary. This particular time wasn’t any different. I distinctly remember them comforting and hugging her, saying they were sorry she was so sad but that everyone in this world has something that they’d like to fix or change about themselves. This answer surprised her. She asked my mom, dad, sister and I what problems we had. We went around the room saying the various things we wished were different about ourselves, that we were thinner, free from various physical ailments, had more friends, etc. The lesson seemed to resonate with her but you never know with Lindsey what will ‘stick’ and what won’t.
A few weeks later we attended my dad’s company Christmas party. Somewhat uncharacteristically, Lindsey was going from person to person around the room introducing herself, making some wisecracks (if there’s one thing we Lassiter women are it’s sarcastic) and having a grand old time. One particular moment Lindsey went up to a perfect stranger, looked him straight in the eye, extended her hand and said, “Hi, I’m Lindsey. I have seizures. What’s your problem?” Somewhat taken aback, the man politely shook her hand, struggling for a response. Finally, a large grin came over his face and he said, “Nice to meet you, Lindsey. I’m so and so and I eat too much.” They both laughed and then proceeded to have the kind of conversation you’d expect between lifelong friends. Lindsey’s bluntness and honesty had removed the need for pretenses.
When I was feeling particularly down about my insecurities and hang-ups the other day this memory came back to me and I couldn’t help but laugh, and laugh, and laugh. I needed to be reminded that ‘we all have something,’ that I have my problems and you have yours and sometimes the best thing is to just acknowledge it and laugh.