Spaghetti Dinner Dispels the Darkness

Hannah 2Hannah could no longer talk.  She couldn’t point to let us know what she wanted any more.  All she could do was scream in frustration, hit herself in the head or pull her hair out.  Literally.

The entire household would go into a frenzy as everyone quickly brought items to her to see if they had found the “magic” one.

It was a difficult time in our lives.

At night, every night, Hannah had six to eight seizures.  I would get her up and bathe her while my oldest daughter, Mandy, changed her bedding and cleaned her crib, because Hannah would vomit at the end of each seizure.

Exhaustion and frazzled nerves became the norm.

It seemed as though a dark, ominous cloud wasn’t just over our home, but was in our home.  We were in survival mode, and we were oh, so tired.

I decided we needed to do something different.  Something happy.  Maybe something silly.  An idea hit me.  This would be something that no one would soon forget.

I told everyone, “We are going to have a very special dinner tonight, so dress up suitably.”

My husband, Dan, was in charge of helping our son, Derek, with his suit and tie.

Mandy was to get Hannah dressed and entertain her while I worked on dinner.

I set the table with our best table cloth, dishes, centerpiece and candles.  Finally, everything was ready.  Everything was beautiful.

Dan put Hannah in her high chair and put her sippy cup on the tray.  I moved it to the table so she wouldn’t fill up on milk and not eat her dinner.

We bowed our heads as Dan blessed the food.

I brought out salad, homemade garlic bread, and spaghetti.

Mandy said, “Um, mom, I think you forgot something.”

“No.  Everything’s here.”

“No, mom.  You forgot the silverware.”

“No.  I didn’t.  We won’t be using silverware tonight.”

Mandy stared at me.  The realization of what I said hit her at the precise moment I was placing a serving of nice long spaghetti noodles on her plate and covering them with luscious red sauce. Her eyes grew three times their normal size and her jaw dropped open.

“What?!  How are we supposed to eat spaghetti without silverware?”

Dan stared at me in complete disbelief.

Derek erupted into gales of laughter.

Hannah squirmed and made noises.

I couldn’t help laughing as I answered Mandy.  “We’ll figure it out.  By the way, would you please get my video camera?”

Mandy’s face went into all sorts of contortions as she processed this.

Dan and Derek both laughed hysterically.

After Dan caught his breath, he said, “But what about our clothes.  We don’t want them to get ruined.”

“I honestly don’t care about that.  We need some fun.  We need to laugh and this is sure to do the trick!”

As I set the last plate down, I realized that Mandy was still sitting there staring at me.

“Don’t worry, hun.  I’ll get the video camera.  You start eating before the food gets cold.”

Derek, who had just slurped up some noodles, almost spit them out as he laughed again.

Hannah still squirmed and made louder noises.  She wasn’t the least bit interested in eating.

Mandy, completely appalled, took one noodle with her index finger and thumb in a most dainty fashion.  Her face turned beet red as she leaned her head back, held the noodle up high and very carefully put it in her mouth.  There was not one drop of sauce on her face.

Derek’s face was completely covered with sauce, because every time he took a bite, he burst out laughing. He even had sauce come out his nose!

We all laughed and talked at the same time.

Suddenly, we heard a bang.  We turned and looked at Hannah, who had hit the tray with her fist.

“GET IT!”  Her little hand was reaching for her sippy cup.

You could have heard a pin drop as we stared at her.  We all had big eyes and gaping mouths.  No one even breathed.


It was true.  Hannah talked.  Not just a sound or even a word, but two words.  Two.

Everyone gasped, yelled and jumped out of their chairs at the exact same time.  We all gathered around her high chair, patted her back, arms and head.  We laughed and cried.  Her eyes grew big as she looked back and forth at each of us like we had all lost our minds.

The look on Hannah’s face began to change.  She puckered up her lips, raised her eyebrows, and banged her fist on the tray again.


“Yay!”  We all screamed and applauded.  We hugged each other.  Then it dawned on me.

“The cup!  Give her the sippy cup!”

We all grabbed for it.  Hannah took a drink and nestled down in her high chair with a sigh that was enough to say, “It’s about time!”

She took another drink and exclaimed, “Got it!”

More applause.  More laughter.  More tears.

It was a dinner far beyond what I imagined and indeed, it would never be forgotten!


  1. // Reply

    Even then Hannah was raising her eyebrows! Hahaha. They do say that laughter is the best medicine!!! Oh and no that dinner was not forgotten! 🙂

  2. // Reply

    That is awesome! I always remember you telling me that my first few words when getting my language back were get it and got it. I had no idea they story behind the first time I said them!!! I would laugh just like Derek if I was older in this!!!

    1. // Reply

      Yes, you would have laughed exactly like Derek! Especially at the faces Mandy was making. I love your sense of humor.

      You also care so deeply about people that if you could have been there as 19-year-old Hannah watching 2-year-old Hannah, you would have been in tears and celebration with the rest of us!

  3. // Reply

    Marlene, Through tears, I found myself wanting to read really, really fast to find out what happened next. I don’t have words. Your dinner idea is priceless! I love the way that in the midst of your dark, lingering storm, our Heavenly Father gave you this gift of encouragement and strength in this funny way. What an uplifting moment in the middle of a desperate situation. God is good. ALL the time.

    1. // Reply

      And ALL the time God is good!!! It really was an amazing evening. I wish you could have been there. I’ll have to look into getting our home videos transferred to dvd’s and maybe share some clips.

  4. // Reply

    This is so absolutely precious! I can vaguely remember this story, but the way you wrote it, I could visualize every part and every word. What a miracle working God we have. Wow is all I can say!

  5. // Reply

    Thank you, Mary! That really encourages me. God is so amazing. I’ve found that sometimes, I’m even more amazed by Him when I look back on some situations!

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