« Well, that stinks. | Life is not an adaptation of a famous cartoon strip. Maybe. »

The Air Up There

January 29, 2007 | Category: In My Life

When I was younger, I would wrap the heating pad around the thermometer. Pushing the fine red line up. It's funny how a child thinks that a fever of 115 will get her out of school, but not send her quickly into hospital. It's funny how a parent indulges, with gingerale and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Life is sometimes a cold, winter wind. And you need to huff a few times into the scarf at your neck to warm up your breath. Or rest a bit under the covers on a not-quite-sick day.

I used to feel guilty, about all the people who had it harder than me. The people who fight for any breath, frozen or moisty warm.

My pity didn't help them that needed it. Dropping my allowance into a plastic jug never saved a life. White upper-middle class guilt is shit-all at being productive. In fact, what it does is paralyze.

It's all right to rest.

It's all right to be all right.

It's all right, when the fear creeps into the edge of life, when you're laying awake at 3 in the morning wheezing for breath, to not feel guilty that you have the love and support and yes, damn it, the health insurance to help make sure that both lungs work again. And to pray, pray that one as blessed as I am, could again be blessed to breathe again.

Breathe deep.

It's amazing the thoughts that begin to fly through a brain after so many days of shallow air. Of drowsy lapses in time.

How it was so wrong of me to be angry at the sickness. At how good I have it, and how selfish I was to resent the constraints and other-time-ness of being ill. How I must be lacking in grace, and gratitude, and faith. Because I cried in frustration. And lashed out.

And then I remembered, shrunk back to being little. The old-fashioned stick thermometer. The smell of Vicks and my mom letting me watch television in the daytime. The rest of a day smuggled out of routine.

What it was like, to wake up again to a new sun, a new number on the calendar. Her determined face. Pulling on school clothes. A little sad to not have one more day. A little excited to be rushing for the bus, wondering what gone on while I was away.

I finally felt better yesterday. The doctor said on Friday, when I finished the drug therapy, that I would. In a day or two, she said.

And then, suddenly, she was right.

I took a long shower, and got clean. We did errands, a bit. We cleaned the son's room, determinedly. We squabbled, and made up. We made dinner and played Old Maid after.

I said to myself, "oh tomorrow"! I went to sleep, excitedly knowing I would wake up better in the morning.

But then, I woke up and found that I just didn't want to race back into life.

Two weeks of awful ill. Of coughing so hard I would pee myself. Of breathing in ragged, shallow sips and dying for more. Of pills and puffs and disgusting yuck.

But this morning? Was my sick day.

My indulgance, that I didn't deserve. That others can't afford. A long last nap. A cup of actual coffee. A stretch and the nothing of listening to my own lungs fill up, and pause, and slowly release.

When I was younger, this would have bound me in guilt. With lectures to my self about sloth and the hardships of others.

I am older now.

And able, finally, to understand why the airlines always tell you to put your own air on first, before taking care of others.

Breathe deep.

Share: Delicious Delicious! | Stumble It! | Slashdot  Slashdot It!
Tagged: Corporate, Mommy, Life
TrackBack (0)


Glad to know you are on the road to recovery :)

Posted by: Eyes on February 1, 2007 09:20 AM

You should try your gift at writing. I love reading what you write, even though I sometimes cannot relate.

Enjoy the boy, work will always be there.


Posted by: Another Jenn on January 30, 2007 12:40 PM

"Breathe deep."

Excellent advice for life. Sometimes we go through our daily routines taking shallow little breaths just to get it over and done with and never savor the relaxing fullness of a deep, cleansing breath.

I'm glad you are feeling better.

Posted by: Jenn on January 30, 2007 09:49 AM

I'm so glad you are back and feeling better.

Posted by: momtowahid on January 29, 2007 09:05 PM

I once took a mental heath day and forced my husband to deal with dinner. He ordered pizza, I got really upset and then said hey, so can I and it's ok to not always cook. That light bulb moment took 4 years to happen. It is ok to just "be sick".

Posted by: LeeAnn on January 29, 2007 05:58 PM

HOoray for figuring it out! I still haven't done that, but maybe the next time I get sick I won't feel so darn responsible about it.

Posted by: rootietoot on January 29, 2007 05:01 PM