I tend to get sick at highly inconvenient times. Last night, just hours before the kids and I were scheduled to drive to New Jersey for a family visit, I came down with a stomach bug. A bad one. The kind that keeps you up all night with abdominal contractions that are a little too close to childbirth.
My mom arrived early this morning to take the kids and give me a chance to rest. Throughout the day I’ve been trying to recover and heal as my body violently sheds itself of whatever virus settled into my system.
Jack Byron struggles when I’m sick. He knows that Papa’s body was too sick to survive, and his subconscious fears affect him greatly when I’m not well. I’ve been burdened with guilt over not being able to care for my babies, while simultaneously being overwhelmingly relived not to have them in my charge for a night. Solo parenting through illness is a special level of challenge that I most often attempt to power through and avoid, until life sends me a not-so-gentle reminder that I am, indeed, human.
I write about this because it reminds me of a memory. Six months into our relationship, on a cold night in January, I came down with food poisoning after eating a questionable tuna melt from the college student center. I was a kid, 21, violently vomiting in the three stall bathroom next to my dorm room. I was scared to be alone, and started calling friends around campus, all of whom were out at parties and not answering their flip-phones. I couldn’t get ahold of anyone nearby, so I called Tim, 1.5 hours away in Storrs Connecticut.
Even though it was late and cold and snowing, he drove in his busted up old car, up 91, to my college dorm. He parked in back and I embraced him weakly as I let him in the door. He brought Gatorade and crackers. He set my love seat futon up so that he could sleep sitting up, watching me through the night as I writhed on my twin size bed. He nurtured and comforted me through the night, and left early the next morning to make it back for a class. At a time that I felt vulnerable and frightened, and completely undesirable, he made me feel unconditionally loved and cared for.
I knew that night that I would marry him. 6 months into our young love. 5 years out from our actual wedding. I knew he would be my person.
I don’t do well with vulnerability these days. I like to pretend I have super-hero emotional and physical strength. The kind of woman who can single-handedly raise her babies without ever feeling hurt or sick or grief-stricken. But I’m not.
I’m missing Tim like crazy today. I’m feeling endlessly thankful for my mom. I’m cleansing my body of some real shit. (Metaphorically and literally). Sometimes I need a little reminder that I deserve help too.