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  • Jenny

4. Indian Cavern Crisis

You never know how precious life is, or how much you take it for granted, until you are faced with a life-threatening situation. We took a family trip to Hershey, where we planned to go on wild rollercoasters (and my favorite chocolate-making ride) at Hershey Park, checking out the Amish country and fun factories in Lancaster and hitting up our favorite “family” buffet—just like we had done before and loved. But this time, life took an unexpected turn of events.

It was a trip that we will all remember vividly for the rest out our lives.

We arrived in Hershey and checked into our hotel. We decided that after the long drive, we would hit up the park the next day, but we still wanted to do something since we were all so excited to be there. We had seen a sign for the Indian Echo Caverns, so my parents thought they would be really cool to explore and check out. So we went, and after being in intense heat all day, the cold dampness of the caverns was a shock to all of our systems. It was a boring exploration, and we were freezing. None of us enjoyed

it, and we couldn’t wait to get out and just get back to the hotel to rest up for our much more exciting adventure to come.

We were all snuggled up and ready for bed, and my sisters and I were already sleeping. All of a sudden, we heard a blood-curdling scream: my mother saw my youngest sister having a seizure. None of us knew what to do, and we were all petrified that she was going to die. My mother was panicked and paralyzed with fear. At the time, we didn’t know that you were supposed to let a seizure run its course, and to just put her in a safe place until it stopped. My sister finally stopped seizing, but then was burning up with a fever. My dad immediately drew a bath to cool her down, while my other sister and I were told to go get help.

I will never forget the two of us running out in our nightgowns, banging on doors for help, trying to get the elevator to quickly go down to the front desk to call an ambulance for our little sister. We were so, so scared. As the oldest, I tried to be calm and brave as best as I could, but even I was in a state of shock over what was happening. The people at the front desk were nice but slow, and I remember somehow finding the clarity to tell them to get an ambulance fast and explained what happened.

It was then that I (and my family) realized that I’m the one you can always count on to keep calm, take action and be the supportive rock to lean on in a crisis situation.

A tough responsibility for someone to take on for the rest of her life, but it just became part of who I was from that point on.

We returned to the room after getting help, waiting for what felt like hours. My mother was at a loss of what to do, just cradling my sister in her arms. My dad was this pillar of strength trying to hold it all together, but I could see how truly scared he was too. We finally got her to the hospital, where I remember having to stay alone in the waiting room with my other sister, holding her tight as we both cried. We had no idea if our sister was even okay. There were some nice nurses and administrators that sat with us and tried to keep us calm. But it wasn’t until we saw our parents and heard everything was okay that we could breathe a sigh of relief.

It had to be the longest night of our entire lives. Thankfully, my sister was fine. They broke her fever and she was allowed to go home with us that night. But it didn’t stop us from worrying if it would happen again. Luckily, our grandparents had their summer camp trailer in Pennsylvania, not too far from where we were, so we went and stayed with them for a few days. As a mother who witnessed her own baby take a seizure once, I can understand now why we would go there instead of straight home. My poor mother (and father) were so scared about it happening again, that they needed the security of my grandparents until we all felt better that she wouldn’t have another seizure. None of us could relax and enjoy ourselves. But what we did do was come together even closer as a family, and realize how much we loved each other.

For me, I could have lost my sister.

Flashing through my young brain was how mean I was to her sometimes, or how I would

refuse to play with her because she was an “annoying little sister.” There is something about seeing your sister’s eyes roll to the back of her head and then her body go lifeless that makes you realize, it’s not that important if she wants to play with your favorite Barbie doll—what’s important is that she is alive to play with it.

A sister is a gift—two of them is a blessing. And I am so grateful everything turned out just fine that night.

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