He has been talking about being afraid to die.
And though most people–children included–from time to time internalize, reflect on, and occasionally articulate this all-too-real fear, Edgar is just seven. And when he couples the expression of this fear with a sense that his seizures will return, what is usually a fleeting fear for most people takes on an added dimension. In a seven-year-old.
In Edgar’s mind he has linked his epilepsy with dying. And though this connection has never been actively expressed in our house–since he is just seven–he is not incorrect. It’s a fear we live with every single day. And apparently, though we have tried to shield him, so does our son–who is just seven.
There are many things we can and do say in response, but the fear becomes all too palpable and marches right to the front of the line when he invokes his seizures. His seizures have stayed at bay for sixteen months; and Edgar has done a remarkable job at convincing himself he is in charge of them. He has utilized the martial imagery our society uses when we encounter conditions that compromise our health; he has fought and battled and is prepared to do so every day. At age seven.
But in truth, though Edgar’s attitude toward his condition plays a significant, even vital, role, it’s not the only factor.
It is very hard to reconcile, as a parent, that this beautiful smile masks fears that should be no part of a seven-year-old’s day. But it does, as do ours.