The Awe-Inspiring Lynnette Higa

A few weeks ago as part of a Heart of Darkness lecture, I discussed the idea of genius in human beings. I talked about how it is both exceedingly rare and consequently impossible not to recognize. If you witness someone do something special, you know it immediately. I witnessed Lynnette do the superhuman over the last three days.

Cole Joseph.

Cole Joseph.

Avery Rio.

Avery Rio.

When the doctors pulled Cole from the Hotel Lynnette, my first reaction was one of shock. “Wait, there’s one more in there?” I thought to myself. He looked big, bigger than I thought he’d be. Of course I knew there was one more child in there, but that now seemed impossible. How had Lynnette managed to carry these two around for 38 weeks?

Once Cole showed up we simply assumed Avery would not be far behind. We were wrong. Lynnette wouldn’t evict her youngest daughter for another 18 hours. None of the doctors or nurses working with us could remember twins being born so far apart. We all made jokes and were overjoyed when Avery finally made herself known to the world, but the delay took its toll on Lynnette. She was in labor and having contractions since Sunday night and as a result, she was in really bad shape after Avery was born.

I'll never understand how she did it.

I’ll never understand how she did it.

As part of my lecture on genius in humans, I said that whenever we see it, one of the first questions we ask is “How did they do that?” The implication, of course, is two-fold: we do not understand how they could accomplish such a feat because we inherently know we are not capable of it ourselves. It’s as if Lynnette’s body finally allowed itself to quit once Avery was born, like the adrenaline which had been carrying her through two days of labor had just stopped coming. Her blood pressure was perilously high. She spiked a fever. She was given a ridiculous combination of medication, and moved to the adult intensive care unit. Her body didn’t stop shaking. She said she was fine and I knew she was lying to me. My body had done that once before: when my body was in shock from the pain of peeling layers of skin off my leg during a softball game. Lynnette will always try to protect me, but I heard the nurse tell her she was at high risk for a seizure. “You cool?” I asked. “It’ll be fine,” she said. And as of right now, she was right.

I’ll never understand how Lynnette was able to endure all those hours of labor and then those few hours of personal danger. I would have panicked. I would failed. I know that I don’t have it in me. But Lynnette? I’m looking at her right now and she’s smiling and laughing and it seems impossible. I don’t understand it, but I am not surprised. Coming through is what she’s always done for the people she loves.

You are incredible, Lynnette. I have spent so long with you that sometimes my eyes are dulled to your magic. Thanks for reminding me. I love you.

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