Friday, January 17, 2014

My Littler 'Berz is Sick

For the past two days, I’ve noticed a raspier note in Berzo’s ever present cough. When in public places I remind her to cough into her elbow, and she blurts, “I’m still sick.” We have spent much of the last few months sick and therefore have answered many inquiries about our health, so I thought this was one of those programmed responses. She didn’t feel warm, or have a runny nose...

Turns out she really was coming down with something. Two nights ago, she looked a little flimsy. Then after her bath she wilted. As soon as she was out of the hot water, goose bumps prickled her skin and she cried as I dried her with a towel that must have felt like sandpaper.


I got her in her jammies and took her temperature. She was just shy of 100 degrees. I got her bundled up on our futon and made her warm cocoa. I told Charley and Boots that Berzo was sick and they both sprung into action. Charley gave her a hug and Boots hopped up on the futon and gave her a hug too. Berzo and Boots are not always on the best of terms so Berzo tried to get rid of her. “Sister, I’m sick! Let me be.”

Boots said, “I know you’re sick. Would you like me to read you a book?” She picked up her new favorite, Ferdinand the Bull and started to read.

Berzo said, “No! I’m sick. Go away.”

Undeterred Boots started to read. She read the entire book, then picked up another, and another, and another. Eventually, it became time for Boots to get ready for bed, but she ignored my requests and read on. Berzo sat just quietly and listened. Boots offered her a choice of which book to read next and sometimes she’d respond, sometimes not, then Boots would choose for her. Berzo's eyes got heavy, and right at her 7pm bedtime she fell asleep.

I wish I could report that I was so tenderhearted. All I could think is of was this past September and November we spent confined to our house as the last fever worked its way through our family. And how skinny and pale Boots and Berzo became. And the swine flu that is ravaging our neighborhood and area—some of whom have been vaccinated. So many people we know have had it and it’s awful. At Charley’s work, several people have been hospitalized. A four-year-old child recently died.

We are all vaccinated. Charley and I in the early fall and the girls only this past Monday. I was blaming myself for waiting so long. I was blaming myself for all the public places we’ve visited, an indoor playground, the library, stores, parks, etc. I was blaming myself for not taking the threat more seriously.

I looked at Charley. He’s smiling, he’s relaxed. I wanted to kick him. He’s the worrier not me.

“She just has a fever. You don’t know it’s swine flu. There’s lots cold viruses that cause fevers too,” he said.  I still wanted to kick him a little.

I reminded myself that feeling guilty is counterproductive and useless. I reminded myself that I waited on their flu shots because they have to be healthy, and they’ve rarely been healthy at the same time since summer. Then when I called and made the appointment, during Christmas Break, we had to wait another week to get in. I reminded myself that when we visited public places, we sanitized before and after, and washed our hands frequently, and always before we ate. I reminded myself that we can’t live in germ free bubbles. Life is risk. Risk is OK. Risk can even be fun.

Still my mood persisted.

I was stuck in a it’s-just-not-fair and what-if-we-all-get-it pout. Also, I was disappointed because my 2014 All New Amy Plan was in the works.

I have long admonished myself for being a poor family manager and being somewhat disorganized about our daily life. I’m a free spirit, I like to blow where the wind takes us and see what the day holds. Other than meals and bedtimes, I’m not big on scheduling anything. So as a result, we tend to while away days that could be seized, Charley and I let home projects idle and stall out, we have very few social engagements, and take very little time for us, blah, blah, blah.

However, 2014 is a brand new year. And this year Amy is going to be organized! Social activities are on the books! Boots is signed up for swim lessons! (Something I’ve been meaning to do for months.) We have a plan for our kitchen remodel! Individual projects are scheduled. The new stuff is ordered, Charley and I are ready to begin on refurbishing our cabinets, the contractor is waiting in on the bench for materials to come in. We have hired babysitters to helps us out on weekends while we work, and eventually allow us some time out together. Everyone’s excited and charged up about the changes. Boots is counting the days until Saturday where she’ll have two teenagers to boss around and play with.

But Berzo has a fever. Suddenly all my plans are in suspension. I missed my Mom’s social group. I missed holding and ogling the newborn of one of my friends. I’ve cancelled the babysitter’s first visit. No cabinet refinishing will happen this weekend.

Feeling better the next morning, I accepted the fact that we’re not doing much, which is difficult for an outdoor girl such as myself. Much to my surprise it was an extremely pleasant day. We took the morning slow and watched home videos on our computer. We laughed at our goofiness and re-lived warmer, sunnier, healthier days. Berzo was particularly interested in seeing her birthday videos. Afterwards, she sat in her basket of stuffed animals and looked at books.

During our morning, I was able to fit in several loads of laundry, emptied the dishwasher and many other household chores, while taking fifteen minute breaks frequently to play with Berzo, read books with her, watch her dance a toddler ballet on my bed, get her water and cocoa, and coax her to into eating some breakfast.

Around 10am, I bundled her in blankets and set her in the stroller. I loaded her up with snacks and water and we headed out for a walk. I love getting out for some natural light, fresh air and all, but my grand plan was for the stroller to lull her into taking a nap, which she doesn’t normally do. We headed for the bank for our first stop and by the time we arrived she was yawning heavily. Afterwards we strolled the half-mile or so to the coffee shop for a treat, an Apple Juice Love-It! for her, and a decaf coffee for me. She guzzled her apple juice and asked for more snacks. She was still awake when we got home, but was very droopy. I checked her temperature and she was up a bit at 101 degrees so I gave her some medicine and bundled her up on the futon. Our cat, Rogue, curled up right next to her. I turned on Berzo's favorite movie, Brave, and started some chicken soup.

She didn’t want to eat but asked me to snuggle her. I thought about all the chores and such I could be doing. Then crawled in next to her. She snuggled right in, fitting her self to my the curve of my body, laying her head on my arm. It was wonderful. We stayed that way for quite some time, sharing warmth as I breathed in her sweet scent. I tried to remember what I was so upset about yesterday. I couldn't think of what it was—it simply didn’t matter anymore.

Sometimes, I need a reminder that my plans are just that, my plans. Sometimes, God, fate, nature, the great spirit, whatever you may call it, reminds me that his (or her) plans trump mine, and that I’m not here for the sole purpose of getting stuff done. I’m here to love, live, and complement the richness of this world and all our interconnected relationships. I am not alone, I’m a tiny cell in this vast being that is our planet, our galaxy, our universe, our supreme being, and I have a part to play that’s just as important as anybody else’s. And in this moment, snuggling my feverish child is about the most divine way I could spend my time.
Mama, will you snuggle me?

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