I’m falling, paralyzed by fear. Next thing I know, I wake up but I’m still falling—falling without a parachute.

Today, I’m on my way to meet my friend Ann to go to a meeting for grandparents who have grandchildren with special needs; my grandson Jacob needs help in school.

I have been waiting to go with Ann, so I can follow her car. That way, I’ll beI remind myself that G‑d is with me able to steer myself home and not have a panic attack. As always, I remind myself that G‑d is with me.

Arriving at her home, Ann welcomes me wearing a colorful scarf around her head, saying, “I have to go to see a student after the meeting. I called you, but you had left.”

“Oh, then I won’t be able to follow you home, so I won’t go today. I’ll go another time.”

“Not to worry. I go the back way—no big streets, only one large street at the end.”

“A three-lane highway?” I ask.

“Oh no. And lots of traffic lights.” She talks to me as the encouraging teacher she is.

Hesitating, knowing that no one who hasn’t experienced it themselves can understand what it’s like to be afraid of panicking, I really want to meet these people and get help for Jacob.

“What about going home?” I ask.

“No problem,” she says. “No problem. I’ll get you directions.”

Seeing me hesitate, she continues: “The road home is on Route 16.”

I know Route 16, so into my car I go and follow her bright-red car, turning this way and that along tree-lined side streets until I get to a rotary where the Mass Turnpike goes in both directions.

Panicking, I follow her until I see the sign to Route 16 for the way home, but cannot see if I have to go on the rotary to get on it. Once across the rotary, a truck gets between my car and Ann’s, but luckily, I see her turn right into a parking lot.

My hands shake at the thought of driving home.

After parking, Ann leads me upstairs into a comfortable-looking room. In it are soft chairs, a whiteboard with crayons and large windows, as I had in grammar school. The coffee smells and tastes good. Once the group leader enters, I introduce myself and explain why I am here. “I have a grandson Jacob who is not being helped to move forward by the school.”

Outside the windows, birds fly around without worrying about falling—falling without a parachute.

Concentrating on the other grandparents and their problems and advice, all I can think about is how I am going to get home. Is this how our grandchildren feel in school: that they are alone, that they are expected to do tasks that they feel they are not qualified for, that they fly alone?

A grandmother explains how her grandson suffers from anxiety.

“Me too,” I say to the group.

At 10:10, I pass a note to Ann: What time is this meeting over? She writes back: 11:30.

The closer it comes to 11:30, the more I start to panic.

When it comes time for me speak, I stand up as I did in grammar school and say, “I came to speak about my grandson . . . perhaps this is how he often feels in school. As for me, I’m having a panic attack. How am I going to steer by Route 16 and not go onto the turnpike?”

I’m feeling now like when I first found out that my grandson has special needs. Like being dropped in a war zone, not knowing if I could steer my parachute to safety.

Today, I wonder if I will survive the trip home. My breathing is fast and deep, and my hands shake. I feel faint. “This is what anxiety looks like,” I say to them.

Two grandmothers stand up and huddle together then volunteer: “You will not have to go on the turnpike. It is a direct right turn to get onto 16. All will be well.”

“Don’t worry.” Ann takes me to the window and shows me another way to go. “You have to turn left.” She points. “See that intersection?”

The colorful flowers look so beautiful I can smell them, but the three-lane busyI know I will find my way intersection looks ominous.

Breathing deeply and reminding myself that G‑d is with me, I say: “I will follow the two grandmothers.”

“Oh dear, oh dear,” I say as I leave the building.

If only I could fall more slowly, see where I am going. I have to measure the success of my panic attacks—not on how everyone else deals with the world, but how I can slowly move forward on my level.

I follow the white car. Once I take the right turn, I know I will find my way. I know my grandson, too, will find his way.

Because I know: “The footsteps of man are directed by G‑d.” (Psalms 37:23) G‑d is leading us. There is no wrong turn.