I always feel like I'm expected to do a superstitious "knock wood" whenever I make a comment like this, but I'll make it anyway: it is so good to be free of sickness, at least for the time being.
Jonathan got a runny nose on March 22. It turned into such a crusty mess that we couldn't send him out into the world to spread it to other people, so he missed church for two Sundays and a whole week of school in between. Finally he was better after Easter weekend -- but then I started feeling sick with what turned out to be strep throat. I had had strep four years ago, so that swallowing-razor-blades feeling quickly felt all too familiar. After a visit to the after-hours clinic I got antibiotics for five days and was starting to feel better at last ... but after the meds ran out I began to feel worse again, so I went back to the doctor last Wednesday and was given another five-day course of penicillin. I took my last dose Monday morning and can finally say I feel back to normal.
Pastor Mark is always talking about "takeaways" from his Sunday morning messages -- that is, insights or lessons learned. So here are a few takeaways from these past few weeks: nothing very profound or original, just things I thought about during some pretty long days and nights.
"TAKEAWAYS" FROM HAVING SICK KIDS:
1. All I have to do is be there. I don't want to oversimplify this one, because I realize I'm very fortunate to work from home and not have to make complicated arrangements if one of the kids is sick. But really, if I can just be present that's all that's necessary. Jonathan doesn't need entertainment or projects or any particular coddling when he's not feeling well; he just likes Mom to be there in the living room with him while he watches TV and does his jigsaw puzzles. I can do that.
2. Sometimes things just don't work out. On Easter weekend our church was hosting two performances of "The Big Picture" with Jason Hildebrand (a Toronto actor who's done many plays at our church in the past). Richard was scheduled to work on Good Friday, so he went to the Thursday evening performance with Allison; I planned to go on Good Friday morning with Jonathan since child-care would be available. But on Friday Jonathan simply wasn't well enough to go, so I missed the play. How disappointing. We can hope for the best and envision all kinds of Plan B's, but sometimes it just doesn't work out.
3. It all works out. Wait a minute, didn't I just say ... ? I mean this one more in the other "big picture" sense -- just that things fall into perspective when you're at home with a sick child. There's more laundry, the dishes pile up, you have to cancel some things and rearrange others, but those things really don't matter. Time slows down and what's most important comes into focus: being there to comfort and provide Kleenex and companionship.
"TAKEAWAYS" FROM BEING SICK:
1. Illness increases your awareness of the basic pleasures of life. Like eating ... drinking ... sleeping. Even things you didn't realize were a pleasure till you can't do them, like swallowing. The enjoyment of those basic things can seem all the greater after the illness is past -- even if it's a relatively minor, curable illness like I had.
2. I live in a good time and place. I thought about how a person living 200 years ago, or a person living today in a place with little access to medical care, would suffer with strep throat: it might run its course after a couple of weeks, but the pain would be severe and complications like rheumatic fever would be much more likely. I can go to a doctor, get a prescription for penicillin, and be feeling better within a day or two. So I'm grateful to live where and when I do.
3. Offers of help should be accepted. On youth-group night the kids were heading out to Sydenham for supper, so I drove Allison to the carpool spot, where we met up with her friend and her friend's mom. The mom knew I had strep, and asked, "Would you like me to pick both girls up later tonight and drive Allison home?" she said. I knew she had twice as far to drive as I did, and going back through town to take Allison home would make her trip even longer. I couldn't let her do that! But ... I did, gratefully.
4. Sometimes not having to decide is a gift. I wasn't well enough to take Allison to her swimming lesson, so Rich said he'd take her. "And while she's doing that," he said, "I'm going over to Loblaws to get one of those barbecued chickens." After her class they came back with chicken, potato wedges, and salad. I could barely eat any of it that evening -- but as cook of the family I found it such a blessing to have supper taken care of (complete with leftovers for the next day).
5. Well is better than sick. This is just a totally selfish one: yes, I know suffering builds character and everything, but I'm not talking in the cosmic sense, just in the human one. It feels good to feel good. Whether you're a kid or an adult, it's nice to be able to do your normal daily things with energy and enthusiasm. Well is better! Just sayin'.