I ran a huge event on January 12 that went splendidly well. And then, many said predictably, I got really sick. I missed some social events that I was actually excited about. I don’t have as many social events since taking back my family last fall. I am making huge attempts not to schedule things that aren’t important to me. I spent a couple of entire days in bed, and parts of other days for over a week. Just as I was feeling better last Sunday night, when my husband and I had watched one show and were getting prepared for another, just before 10 p.m., my youngest daughter wakes up with the worst stomach virus in the history of the universe. Without getting too down and dirty with the details, suffice it to say our entire army of cleaning products were used, and we left windows open all night in January in Minnesota to fumigate.
I pulled an all nighter. She was sick at least twice an hour, we stopped counting at 10 times around 2 am. My youngest daughter is tough as nails, especially when it comes to stomach flus. She spent the better part of her first three years throwing up, and knew to run to the toilet to get sick by the time she was 18 months old. She is often stoic about stomach viruses, sometimes not even waking me up.
But this one was different. The night is somewhat of a blur, but the pattern is clear. She would writhe in pain, her body straightening and stiffening into a board. She would cry out sometimes in sharp cries, sometimes whimpering. I would rub her if she would let me, and she only let me when she had given up hope, when all of her was used up.
Then, suddenly, she would bolt in the bathroom to be sick. After about 11, there was nothing left, and she became intimate with the word bile. All I could do was hold her hair back, rub her back, and watch. Watch her little abdomen roll uncontrollably, her shoulders following suit, her neck roll just enough to allow her blond head to crush against the back of the toilet.
Then, the reprieve. We would lay in bed and wait for the next one. I would start to doze, and then I would hear something like this: “Mama, how come I didn’t know the word bile before now?”
I rolled from my side to my back with a little giggle. “I’m not sure Sals. I guess its just not that pretty of a word and it just hasn’t come up before.”
Quiet. Dark. With a crack of light from the bathroom, so we can find our way when the next battle comes.
“Mama? I should have known that word. My stomach has always been sick.”
I had made my husband go sleep in the office because he just can’t handle this. He goes nuts when he can not do anything to make it better. Her pain becomes his unbearable, unfixable pain that morphs into fear, betrayal, and anger.
Her questions and insights in the in between times became my anchor for the night.
“I don’t understand the tuning of a violin. You tighten the string to tune it, and it gets loose again, usually because of the water in the air. But why does it just break at some point with no warning?”
I know it looks like things, or people, just break without warning. But there is always a warning, a sign, if you pay attention, and if you know what you are doing.
“Why was I born last? Would I be the same person if was born before Chaucer or Chloe?”
When we noticed the sky turning from the darkest black, to a little lighter black, she noticed the shift and asked why. I explained that morning was coming soon.
“Really? I thought the night was longer than the days in the winter.”
It is, honey.
“Wow. That night flew by. You mean we did an all nighter? Yes! I can’t wait to tell Chloe and Chaucer I was the first one to do an all nighter.”
And as the sun edged its way through our blinds, I held my daughters hand, and we finally slept.