“Someone wrote an article about Courtney,” is all I could manage to type in an email to a few family members before rushing back to read the rest. I randomly came across it on Twitter because I saw a familiar face whilst scrolling. The article made me smile because it wasn’t as much about my cousin’s hardship, rather her drive to get better while highlighting those who help with her recovery.
Courtney has been hospitalized since September with what Washington University doctors diagnosed in January as acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM). This auto immune disease attacks the brain and the central nervous system. It’s caused Courtney to need machine assistance for bodily functions many of us perform involuntarily. She has come a long way as the article mentioned and with the continued help of the awesome nurses and doctors at her facility, she will continue to progress. They treat the whole person; even keeping Courtney’s hair and nails done. Ladies, y’all know how much that means to us and Courtney is no exception to that rule.
Our family has only in recent years began to form a close relationship with Courtney and her twin brother Courtland because they did not always live in St. Louis. But they came right into open arms as aunts and uncles have made sure to be part of their father’s village along with his family.
If you read the St. Louis Public Radio article you saw mention of lipsyncing as a form of therapy. Gawk if you must, but the first time I saw Courtney mouth lyrics to a Whitney Houston song, I teared up. Heck I’m crying writing this because God is so good and has proven the blood still works. Singing is something that brings me joy every single day and it’s doing the same for Courtney.
While I was visiting this past weekend, my stepmom stated, “I guess Courtland will be starting school soon.” Though Courtney cannot reply, we talk to her and interact with her like you would anyone in the room because she can definitely hear us.
My stepmom’s statement resonated with me and I was reminded how much I despise everything-back-to-school. I may or may not have done the Steve Carell NO GOD NOOOO scream regarding back-to-school commercials. I am in no means ungrateful for my career; August just comes with a lot of stress. Imagine starting a new job every year for over a decade. That’s kinda how teaching feels for me. There is some excitement but I also know drama is on the way from many directions. Not to mention summer break is so fun, it’s hard to let go. But that’s life though, right? I even jokingly tell friends I’m in mourning during the days leading up to the end of my love affair with summer break.
But watching Courtney’s nurses lift her from her bed and into a wheelchair (sitting up is another part of therapy), I had a new thought. Hearing that school is soon starting for her twin, Courtney probably prays for the normalcy of teachers, desks, books, and watching the clock tick til the 3 o’clock bell finally rings. At that moment I vowed to curb my disgust for August and be mindful that the little things in my life would be major to someone else.
Some are seeking the normalcy we have on a regular basis, but may take for granted. Be mindful of this if you find yourself in complaint mode as I resort to year after year around this time.
Love you Courtney!