It was ~2009 and I was still learning to cope with my migraine changes. I was very clueless about Chronic Migraine as I knew no one with the disease. I was fighting my pants off against it; in the Botox regimen, taking oral preventatives, involved in other therapies, etc. But I was still hiding my Illness as best I could. My children were still young and their needs many. My friends didn’t understand, especially my best friend.
It was the last day of school before Christmas break, my daughter was just 6 and our friends (my group of girlfriends with their ~6 year old kids) was having a little Christmas party after school at one of their houses. Crafts, snacks, play and fun. It was a darling event. For whatever reason, I’d fallen ill with an horrendous migraine. One of the killers – that doesn’t really reapond well to meds, that needs to involve dark room and mini coma. But this was not a day for a Killer Migraine. This was a day for festivities: crafts with the kids, wine with the girlfriends, laughter and fun.
I’d been attentive to my migraine in preparation for the party…but it wasn’t budging. Someone even picked up my daughter from school and brought her to the party so that I could attend to my boys (8, 10, 12)…get them settled at home (close by) with a movie.
I got in the car to drive to the party – only .25 mile or less away. I was so sick. I walked into the house and greeted my friends, hugged my daughter and started to get into the party groove. I couldn’t take my sunglasses off. The pain in my head was so severe – like a knife through my brain. I was completely nauseous, couldn’t even open my eyes all the way. The house was loud with kids and laughter, the snacks were sugary and turning my stomach. Someone offered me something to drink. “No thank you.” – more like no way! I remember trying to take my sunglasses off but it wasn’t possible.
My friends were all there and talking and including me…but I couldn’t even engage; I was only on the verge of consciousness. So much pain and illness. None of those beautiful ladies said anything about my appearance. It couldn’t have been hard to spot. But they carried on, enjoying themselves.
I remember I had to turn from them. I just wasn’t capable of engaging even though I know I was smiling and trying to exchange pleasantries. I focused on the only goal I could: my daughter. The independent, social little spitfire was working on a craft with her friends. It was cute. She was always such a beautiful little joy, a bundle of spunk and smiles and curly brown hair at that age. No one could resist her – my sweet and funny Bobbi girl.😍 She didn’t need my help with the craft, but it was all I could think to do since this was an event for her (for me too). I was so ill. The kind of ill that I’m not sure how I was standing. The noise and smells and activity around me like a living Hell to my migraine. I couldn’t think. I could barely breathe. I wanted to step in front of a moving train. But I was smiling.
I’m sure one of my friends asked me if I had a headache and I must have confessed – since there was no was hiding that much illness. But that was the extent of concern for me. Which was fine. I didn’t and wouldn’t expect anything else. I never have and I never will. It’s not about me.
But then… Lizzie happened.
I had been at the party only a short time – maybe 20-30 minutes. I stepped away from my daughter and the craft table because she was completely uninterested in my help (lol). None of the kids were getting help from their mamas. And Bobbi’s nature was so independent anyway. She made me smile.
So I stepped away and tried to go somewhere else…maybe to visit my friends in the kitchen? I was so confused, in such indescribable agony. Indescribable Agony. I met Lizzie in the hallway. Lizzie was another mom with 2 little girls. She was such a cool friend – great personality, funny and smart, chill, beautiful. I never had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Lizzie, our kids didn’t really play together and she didn’t live in my neighborhood. But I always thought she was the shit.
Lizzie took one look at me and stopped. She said: “Omg, you’re so sick! Look, you can’t even take your sunglasses off!” I just mumbled something about wanting to be there for my daughter; it was a party, ya know. “Donna, you’re too sick. Just go home! You poor thing. Don’t worry about Bobbi – we’ll bring her home later.” She was so matter-of-fact about it.
I was totally undone by her … Not only could she see what no one else had, but she called me on it. She didn’t pretend, she didn’t expect me to just suck it up and stay and engage. She directed me to take care of myself and she nonchalantly reassured me they would take care of my baby.
The moment is one I’ll never forget. Lizzie SAW me. Lizzie SAW the Migraine and she honored me and cared for me. I was powerless to pretend at that moment. I remember I began weeping – just silent flooding of tears down my face. Incapable of expressing the gratitude I felt, I just hugged her…or she hugged me…and I wept in her arms, my sunglasses still on.
“Go home. It’s okay. Just go to bed. We’ll take care of Bobbi.” No drama, just calm direction.
I can’t remember much afterwards. I think I said a quick goodbye to everyone and hugged and kissed my daughter. I know I couldn’t stop the tears. I know the others weren’t like Lizzie. They accepted my leaving but were not as understanding.
But I went home. And I went to bed. And my boys were great, involved with a movie or videogame. And someone dropped off Bobbi at the end of the party. And, as I always do… I recovered from that migraine. And I would live to fight another day.
But I can’t forget the enormity of what Lizzie did for me… The kindness, the caring, the fact that she SAW and wouldn’t ignore my pain. The fact she let me weep in her arms like a child. She took care of me when no one, including myself, would. She *got* it. She understood. And she touched my heart and my life. And I’ll carry that kindness with me always as the gift it was. And I doubt she’ll ever understand the grace of what she did for me that day.
You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. (John Bunyan)