Sick here again -- this time with coughs and fevers and mild sore throats. Windchill has driven temperatures below zero the last couple of days and today it warmed to about 12. Not our average DC winter. I have friends who lost power in the wild gusts Sunday, others whose heat broke, and others who are staying in emergency shelters downtown to stay alive. Any piece of that list offers ample opportunity for perspective. And throughout the day, I've had some, and have felt grateful.
And then I haven't anymore and have watched myself wing wildly into impatience/fury/dismay at all the long faces and whining voices, headaches, and the deep hearty coughing from every room of the house. And instead of making tea and stroking hair, I yelled and was flat mean.
Then I locked myself in a room, breathed help over and over, breathed deeply, and came out again. I remembered we are actually healthy in big ways, and warm, and I'm grateful. I apologized to each person with words or hugs, and we ate dinner.
Then a friend told me our symptoms sound like the flu and if we catch it in the first 48 hours, we can cut the sickness down by 8 days, but it's snowing steadily and freezing cold and all minute clinics are closed. So I got mad at Eden for coughing her head off instead of sleeping, Silas for asking me to read, Ben for acting like a know-it-all about the flu and suggesting I do NOT get all three kids out of their bed and drive 30 minutes to a nighttime clinic in the storm -- because really I was panicking over the words "8 more days."
So I locked myself in a room, breathed help over and over, breathed deeply, and came out again. I remembered we are actually healthy in big ways, and warm, and I'm grateful. So I said sorry by sidling up next to Silas in his bed and reading.
But the incessant coughing coming from Eden's bed and thought of that continuing for the next ten hours and the tiredness making my eye sockets ache all crept into my monotone reading voice and made me stare hard at the words, so as not to leave this script of kindness I held in my hands.
Now I am alone drinking tea on the kitchen floor. I've scared Ben downstairs and the others are finally (hopefully) asleep. I will whisper I'm sorry's into their hair as I make my way to bed.
I'm thinking about gratitude and how though I hover at it -- a humming bird at a feeder -- I dart away at the smallest sound, the tube of sugar water still full and hanging.
This is why I need to lock myself in rooms (every few minutes), to remember, literally, re-member -- have God name me again so I'm whole. Maybe maturity -- that far off lovely, stable state people speak of -- will mean being able to have that conversation more instantly, to re-member within, and change what's in the mouth (or heart, really) before it tumbles out.