Matthew didn’t say much, but he seemed to be enjoying the food. Sawyer had been told it was hard for her brother to follow what people were saying when there were multiple conversations going on at once. He also had word-retrieval issues, which embarrassed him in front of strangers.
“Have you talked to Boone lately?” Jesse asked Sawyer as the meal was coming to an end. He wiped his mouth and set his napkin on the table. Boone and Jesse had spent a lot of quality time together when Boone was on the farm last summer.
“Piper and I had dinner with him a couple days after the CAAs. He’s looking good. He seems very happy.”
Jesse smiled. “You think Ruby has something to do with that?”
“I would say she probably has a lot to do with that.”
“Love changes a person. Of course, I’m preaching to the choir. You know all about that, don’t you?”
Sawyer thought he knew what love felt like, but obviously he had been wrong. He glanced over at Piper sitting on his other side. She laughed at something Josie said. Her head fell back and her eyes closed. It had been a long time since he’d seen her laugh like that. Lately, all she did was frown or bite her lip with worry.
“Is he okay?” Jesse asked. The concern in his voice got Sawyer’s attention. He looked back at Jesse, who was staring at Matthew.
Piper and her mother took notice, as well. Matthew sat rigid in his seat. His eyes were fixed on the wall behind Faith’s head. He didn’t blink or move.
“He’s okay,” his mother said. “He’s having a seizure. He’ll be okay.”
Piper wrestled the fork out of her brother’s hand. The whole table went silent as everyone waited for the seizure to pass. Heath froze in his spot. After a minute or so, Matthew began to blink. Claudia kept asking him if he could hear her, but he didn’t respond.
Sawyer hated feeling helpless. He didn’t know what to do or say, so he sat by and watched. The joy he had seen on Piper’s face a moment ago was completely erased by worry and fear.
“Matthew has epilepsy,” Piper explained without making eye contact with anyone. Her voice was tight. “He’s having what we call an absence seizure. He’s going to be very embarrassed when he comes out of this. If you all could please keep eating and talking, it would help a lot.”
Everyone did their best to go back to normal. Matthew eyes began to dart around. His breathing changed, quickening as he regained consciousness.
“You’re okay,” his mom said. “We’re at Thanksgiving dinner with Piper and her fiancé. We’re in Grass Lake. You’re okay.”
Piper started to hum “You Are My Sunshine” and Matthew’s body relaxed. She ran her fingers through the hair above his ear.
“You’re okay,” Claudia continued to repeat. “We’re eating Thanksgiving dinner at Sawyer’s. Does your head hurt?”
Matthew nodded. “It hurts.”
“On a scale of one to ten, how bad does it hurt?”
Matthew’s eyes roamed around the table. His face was flushed and dripping with perspiration. His mouth began to move as he tried to form the word, but nothing came out.
Faith offered a place for him to lie down. Piper and her mother helped him to his feet and followed her out of the room. Harriet went after them. Heath looked as though he had been holding his breath until the entire episode was over. Sawyer could see his frustration and discomfort.
“Do you want to check on them?” Sawyer asked him.
Heath shook his head. “Would you show me where the bathroom is?”
Dean offered to show him, leaving Sawyer once again with nothing to do except sit with the rest of the mortified group.
“Sorry about that, everyone,” he said, not knowing what else to do but apologize.
“Don’t be sorry. That poor young man,” Marilee said. “What a horrible disorder.”
Faith returned with a dessert platter full of cookies. “I think we all need a little sweetness after that.”
Sawyer and Josie jumped up to help clear the table for dessert. After dropping some bowls in the kitchen, Sawyer went into the front room, where Matthew was resting on the couch.
“How are we doing out here?” he asked. Piper turned to face him. Her eyes were watery.