Sick Days


The weather changed. The air got colder, rain fell for days. Each night this week a little hand would reach out in the dark to find me. My little guys would discover that I was still there sleeping right next to them, and feel comforted enough to know that they could try to fall asleep. I would know, as soon as they did, if their barking cough turned frightening; they wouldn’t have to try to call for me with no breath left.

We kept the window open a crack, a towel sitting right up against the threshold to catch rainwater before it flooded the inside of the house as it had flooded the street. The cool damp air helped us all breathe better.

It was just the three of us for days. Both boys missed a whole week of school. My husband had gotten on a plane for work on Monday. Between the rain and our colds we stayed home doing just the minimum to get by. Watching movies. Taking medicine. Eating food. Sleeping. Cuddling. It was as if we had stepped back in time, when I was a stay-at-home mom with two small children too small for school.

For this one week we didn’t rush anything, not waking or dressing or eating or thinking or deciding or cleaning or bathing or bedtime kisses. When homework and playdates and PTA folders disappeared, other things reappeared. Well-loved toys that had languished in the back of cabinets now spilled out all over the living room floor, useful again. Movies that we had outgrown, at the oh-so-mature ages of five and seven and thirty-five, got new viewings-with popcorn when our scratchy throats could manage it. I got to go back in time, to when coloring with my child was part of my job description, and napping with them was an important part of our daily routine.

When they were so small and helpless before, the isolation of these sorts of days had felt stifling and dangerous. The responsibility for their health and safety weighed so heavily on my every move, and the length of the hours taxed my soul.

Now that these days are a pause from normal life, rather than normal life itself, I am able to see the gifts those long sequestered days had given them and given me.

I know them better than I know almost anyone else on earth.

We had time together to just be, before clocks and schedules ruled our days.

They know that they only need to reach their hands out a little ways for help, and I’ll be there.

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