Having children is terribly inconvenient sometimes. There are so many things I would like to accomplish, so many gorgeous little DIY projects I see on Pinterest that I think I might actually be able to create. They do not care that I had images of Martha Stewart dancing through my head as I planned this year's Thanksgiving meal. No, they decided it was a great time to get the flu. And to pass it on. There is just no reasoning with them.
So now as I sit trying to write a blog post, there is a charming little girl wallowing in my lap whining, "Mommy, I want more cookies." There is a suspiciously quiet little boy somewhere in the house no doubt undoing some of my previous tidying if not worse. In the time it took for me to type those sentences, Baby Girl left my lap and I caught her about to add her own embellishments to our ottoman with a pen she swiped from the desk. Artistic endeavor thwarted, she is back begging for cookies.
It's times like these that I really need a break or at the very least a nap. My flu is lingering longer than theirs did because I do not have the time or ability to rest. The endless cups of echinacea tea and the soothing baths upon my husband's return from work are lovely respites but no exchange for the hours of undisturbed slumber that I crave. Add on top of all of this that all I have done by way of Thanksgiving preparation is to move my turkey from the freezer to the fridge, you will see that I have something of a problem.
Or do I? I remember once when Eddie was sick. It was a similar situation, flu symptoms that he happily shared. Sleepless nights, fatigue heightened by a sense of helpless worry. As now, it was a few weeks before Christmas and my mind was on the holidays ahead. His timing was inconvenient and, what was worse, I was beginning to feel the onset of illness myself.
Toward the end of the evening, I really needed a break. Needed to get out of the house. Eddie was lying on our living room floor on a blanket, surrounded by toys as always. I was headed out to the store to get something that seemed essential at the time, something in the "bread, milk, toilet paper" kind of category. As I neared the door, Eddie turned toward me and with his cutest Cabbage-Patch smile, patted the top of his "Where's Elmo?" peek a boo book.
Let me make something clear. Eddie didn't just like his big, puffy cloth "Where's Elmo?" peek a boo book. He loved it. I had read that book and lifted those flaps more times than I can possibly count. I had seen a variation on his wordless request time and time again. And I needed a break. So, I passed. I told him Mommy had to go to the store but that Daddy would read it to him, which he began to do as I was leaving.
When I came home thirty minutes later, Eddie was asleep in his crib and I had a fever. I slept on the couch that night so I wouldn't make Phillip sick or Eddie sicker. When I got up to check on him the next morning, he was gray and hardly breathing. Phillip and I rushed him to the ER. In the car I had to hold him forward, out of his car seat, so that he could breathe. As I gently urged him, "Breathe, baby" Phillip's foot got steadily heavier and heavier on the gas pedal.
We were rushed into the back immediately and they began to bag him, or manually help him breathe. After a flurry of questions and answers, he was admitted, sedated and put on a respirator. He then spent the next thirteen days in the PICU in a medically induced coma from which he was never expected to awaken. (I wrote about this PICU stay in my post "The Sprinter" if you would like to find out more details.)
While Eddie was out and while his prognosis worsened, I kept seeing the same image in my head again and again. That beautiful little smile, those sparkling little eyes, as he patted the top of his favorite book, asking me to read to him. I cried about it; I agonized over it. What would it have taken for me to delay my trip to the store by ten minutes? To watch his eyes light up, the delight on his face as we "found" his Sesame Street friends one last time. I prayed that God would give me a second chance to have that moment with my baby boy. That the last smile I saw from him not be right before the moment that I had said that I didn't have time to spend with him.
Thank God, Eddie didn't die in PICU. We had dozens if not hundreds of more occasions to read "Where's Elmo?" together. I got to see that Cabbage Patch grin again and again. I got to remember that no matter how tired I was, no matter how long the day had been, that I was lucky to have time with him. That every single moment was precious, no matter what.
So, I don't have a problem. I have blessings. Two of them that are feeling better and therefore tearing the house apart. That are whiny, unreasonable, demanding and wonderful. They can't imagine that my time has any greater purpose than being spent with them and in some ways they are right. Chances are they will outlive me, but there is no guarantee of that. Even if they do, they won't always be in my lap, asking for a cookie. Before I know it, it will be drivers licenses and prom dates, then colleges and careers, hopefully marriage and their own families. The time I have with them now is precious and ticking away. So it doesn't matter that it has taken me the better part of the hour to write this short post. It has been time well spent.