Here I stand – strong, impervious to the elements, meeting life and its challenges head-on – with the world (my world) resting on the tips of my fingers with everything balanced and fully aligned.
I tackle new projects with zest in the workplace, relish home life with zeal; I am a paragon of calm under pressure. What, me? No, I haven’t been sick in a couple years – it’s something to do with my age I guess, the germs don’t care for me at all. I’m the Teflon of Moms, I don’t relinquish control of my body to illness.
Getting a whiff of a sore throat, I down Emergen-C ; a headache coming on, here comes plenty of water and sunglass therapy; what? A hint of fatigue — nothing that an extra 15 minutes of sleep can’t cure. It does seem impossible, but I am a rock. When the shit comes down, I’m holding the box of Kleenex for someone else.
See, there I am at church, holding the door for the old ladies, now at work, signing the “Get Well” card for Bob. I am thinking up new ways to share this staggering prosperity with others. “Just drink a lot of liquids, that’s what I do.” “Don’t let the little things stress you out – it’s not worth it.” “Get a grip, just sweat it out.”
Yesterday at work – 8 a.m.: A tickle at the base of my throat – it’s nothing.
10 a.m.: My ears have a soreness I can’t quite describe.
11 a.m.: Peculiar, my stomach isn’t quite settled.
12:15 p.m.: A halo from looking at my computer monitor.
12:30 p.m.: The sneeze of kingdom come to rattle the window.
No worries – just down the concoctions and live on the Nile, otherwise known as de-nial.
12:50 p.m.: Sudden, but slight, fatigue.
1:10 p.m.: Mild body muscle aches.
1:40 p.m.: A cold sweat — Huh – better take notice now
2:10 p.m.: A crisis in the office, minor really, makes me edgy and off my game
Power through it – get the boxes, the bags, gather it up and get out to the car.
3 p.m.: Driving the car I feel the energy drain from me. Ay caramba.
Well, how did I get here?
3:30 p.m. I’m at the area high school for their party to collect food for homeless children. I find a couple of students who help me get the materials inside. Soon I’ll be on my way heading to the pharmacy, but “No,” the girls and moms say, “Stay. Help us to put the food in packs today.” Don’t they see? I’m dying. Impervious Mom has the sweat – I’m practically bathing in it –if my hair didn’t cover my ears they’d see their crimson color; I’m caught – I can’t leave. Don’t they see my eyes dilated? My skin may not be purple yet, but the pain and aches are causing internal bruising; concentration – I need it – “What is your name again?” they ask – I try to remember, it begins with an E, I think; words come from my mouth but I don’t hear them. They’re packing the food, but they need the boxes I move from one side of the cafeteria to the other and for some reason I keep looking for my purse, or is it the keys? Yes the keys – I need them, the boxes to the car they’re ready to load and can I carry a box? My arms are breaking, my breath is short. They ask me if they can carry the box, I say “Yes,” but I think, “Can’t they see? I know I must look like sergeant Brody from Homeland stuck in lockdown with the joint chiefs of staff with a radioactive vest strapped on – I am paranoid and weak. I say good-bye and buy pudding and drugs at the store.
At home little Mo-mo has the same thing. I look at her in bed and say, “You poor thing.”
“Mom,” she says. “The sheets, they are burning me and itching me. Can I have new ones?”
Well sure thing – I’m Teflon aren’t I? But where are the sheets? What are sheets? Why are sheets? Somehow, yes I remember how, my husband how, he gets sheets and together we replace hers with clean ones.
Inside our room I peel off clothes, look at our bed all rumpled from last night, I could care less. I would lay on a turd right now if it would put me in a supine position. That’s more like it. Now here come the real aches – did they really beat me repeatedly with a stick? Why do my fingers feel like they’re bleeding? My word, do my eyeballs always ache when I move them to the right? I need my custard, no, I don’t eat custard – where is a hot water bottle?…delirious…I love the sound of Mandy Patinkin’s voice, not his singing, his speaking; will he come to me tell me I don’t have to go through with it. He’s so nice, so thoughtful, he assures me with that voice like butter,
“Now I Lay Me…”
I don’t have to have the electro-shock – the iron lung – the lobotomy. “Remember this,” I whisper, “That’s right, don’t let me forget this – I’m vulnerable – I’m only human.”