Approximately. But I forget what they were. I am tired. We have all been sick, and some of us are still being sick, and though I am sick no longer, the annoying cough lingers, the unpleasant souvenir of a particularly ruthless cold. My Body Went to Virus Land and All I Got Was This Lousy Cough.
Poor Jane was hit the hardest: she gave us quite a scare the other day. Valentine’s Day, I think it was? Or the day before; it’s all a blur. The combo of high fever and not having eaten breakfast yet caused her to pass out on the bathroom floor. I heard something fall and called to her, and she didn’t respond, and then I found her there all limp limbs and tangled hair. When I knelt beside her, she roused and said, "What? I thought I was in my bed," which was funny a long time later. I got her to her feet and then she began to moan and her body began to sink, heavy in my arms, and I lowered her back to the floor and her eyes were wide and staring and there was nobody there.
Not my favorite moment of motherhood.
Beanie was standing behind me shrieking What’s wrong with her??? as shrill as a teakettle at full steam, and I sent her for the phone while I shook Jane and shouted at her, and after what seemed like forever but wasn’t really, Jane blinked and came back and wanted to know why she was on the bathroom floor and what was wrong with Bean. I dialed the doctor whose nurse made the whole thing even scarier by saying in a voice taut with alarm: "Get her to the ER immediately," adding that if I couldn’t get Jane to the car without her passing out again, I should call an ambulance. But then she said that it was probably just the fever and empty stomach. Which is what five hours of tests and waiting, mostly waiting, at the ER confirmed.
So that’s good.
The next day, Jane was still feeling lethargic. Her little sister decided to help perk her up with cup of mint tea. She left the mug steeping too close to the edge of the counter, and Rilla pulled it down upon herself.
That was a bad moment.
She was scalded on her neck, ear, and shoulder, but I got cold wet cloths on it immediately and the burns were not severe. Thank God. It was awful for Rilla and awful for me, but perhaps worst of all for the tenderhearted sister who had unknowingly left the mug in baby’s reach.
All in all, a rough week for my poor girls. Every one of them was laid flat by the fever at some point and suffered sleepless nights due to their own coughing or their roommates’.
Ah, but Saturday morning brought an upswing in our spirits with the happy arrival of my parents and my eleven-year-old niece. Nothing in the world beats grandparent therapy. We stuck pretty close to home on Saturday, battling the last day of Beanie’s fever, but by Sunday the older girls were well enough to go to church and then Scott and I snuck away for lunch together. In the late afternoon my folks took all the kids except the baby—who is still, today, feverish and crabby, and who gave us quite a wretched night last night, what with the crying and the fevering and the being original and adding throwing up to the mix, which none of the other kids had thought of doing—for a walk at our favorite nature center. And today? Oh my children are so lucky. As I type, they are on a boat on the Pacific, looking for whales. Whales! And dolphins! Yes, I am jealous. But of course my two littlest people are not really candidates for three-hour boat tours even in prime health, and most definitely not today.
I can’t wait for the girls to come home and tell me all about it. Perhaps the mental image of whales fluking, or whatever it is that whales do, will replace the pictures I can live happily without, thank you very much: Jane’s blank staring eyes; shrieking Rilla drenched in hot tea. My friend Sarah used to work as a pediatric nurse, and she told me that to this day she cannot walk out into the first crisp day of autumn without thinking about how that weather always meant a rush of toddler patients with burns from cups of coffee, tea, hot cocoa left carelessly in reach.
That night I served fish sticks for dinner (Friday in Lent, doncha know), and as I forked them onto plates I remarked casually that they were too hot to eat yet, they’ll burn your mouths…and I heard a gasp from Rilla’s direction and saw her sitting in her chair with both hands clasped to her mouth, her eyes huge with horror. I guess she understands burn now.
Whales! Dolphins! Salt spray, wind in hair!
Yes, that’s better.
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