Full Circle- A Braided Essay (Emily Holyoak, 2020)



I fell down the stairs. I don’t know if I missed a step, or was at the top or the middle, all I know is my brother caught me before I hit the cement at the bottom. The stairs weren’t soft either, the carpet needed replacing 20 years ago.


Usually when I wake up from long naps, my mom or dad is there waiting for me, their heads hovering in silent concern, speaking to me softly like I spoke another language and they were taking it easy on me.


I began to have so many seizures that I didn’t go to the hospital every time. I had to go to Salt Lake where they would make me do stupid things, like MRIs and walking in a straight line down cold, empty halls.


How I hated taking so many pills a day. One day I got so impatient that I just shoved all the pills from my mom’s hand into my mouth and ran off to go play.


My dad was always on the phone, looking for a cure. Trying to procure cannabis in the late eighties was a laughable feat. Sweat would bead from his brow and collide with tears.




Thirty years later, here I am. Helpless as my daughter seizes like I did. Men with alertness in their voices escort me to the ambulance, where my eight-month old was sedated and plugged into tubes.


It didn’t get better. She had to go to Salt Lake. To the hospital I stayed at. The chilly air reflected my numbness inside as I peered out over the snowy mountains during that stressful twelve minute flight. I saw a moose on a peak.


Many medications later she received a night vision baby monitor that would sound an alarm should she seize. My parent’s alarm was my eight-year-old sister.


My daughter takes her medication so much better than I did. She complies, she smiles, she plays, she seizes.


It’s genetic, says the expert neurosurgeon. I had 50/50 chance of passing this genetic mutation on, and I didn’t even know. Most children grow out of it by age five. That’s what happened to me, and what we’re waiting for.





The phone call comes in the middle of the night. That’s never good. Dread filling me, adrenaline fueling me, I answer my mom’s teary greeting.


Two long, dreary airplane rides later, I was home again to bury my father.


All the things we never said, all the arguments we had, all the stubbornness we both displayed, gone in an instant. A faded memory floating out into the fog.


He wanted to cure me. He cried like I cried. He hurt like I hurt. He was the parent of a child with epilepsy, and so was I.


Upon placing my rose upon his casket, I felt clarity. Maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy.

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