Monday, November 8, 2010

Gratitude, Tumbleweed and Flannel Sheets

Lately, I've been sputtering about, grasping and searching for words. Words to describe my journey, my days, my thoughts. Words, brief sentences and vaporous phrases visit. But they blow in on the edges of a jagged tumbleweed. They tease me, and then depart, more swiftly than they arrived.

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Last week, Henry got sick. A raging ear infection took hold and he couldn't tolerate food or water for 36 hours. (The upside to a kid throwing up in a different spot every hour: house, couch, family room, bathrooms and bedrooms (and all linens) are now very, very clean.) After watching Henry writhe and throw up for more than a day, we bundled into the car, with bucket in tow, and headed to the ER. An expertly administered IV coursed Zofram, antibiotics and saline into his limp little body. Henry and I curled up in that tiny little ER bed and he lay limply on my chest.

Just six hours after we returned from the ER visit,
Henry migrated from his gray-faced, listless heap on the couch to standing. He chased Abby. He laughed and pleaded for food. A satisfied smile played at the corners of my mouth. After 48 hours of his palpable misery, I gave thanks for the return of his health.

As our family came up for air after a very minor, but painful 48 hours with Henry, I paused. I saw the strains of order and regularity begin to gently resurface. I am pleased with how freely calm coursed through my veins, just like the magic drugs that coursed through Henry, delivering him back to health. In the past, I feel as if I sputtered and choked through challenging times, with a prevalent feeling of discord instead of gratitude. This time, no discord. Just peace.

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Saturday afternoon, I sat in front of a fire (well, a nascent fire) which tried desperately to burn and produce licking flames to warm our cold, tired, post-sick bodies. All it could churn was a warm glow. It was enough.

I went upstairs to put clean sheets on my and Hubby's bed and the flannel sheets made their debut. I pulled the red flannels from their quiet resting spot in the linen closet and spread them out. I took solace in their tightly lined creases, whispering promises of a cozy, warm November slumber.

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That evening, I stood in our laundry room. As I folded the heaps of sick laundry, I smiled to myself. Our faithful washing machine carried us through the maelstrom of sick and yuck. Despite the layers of tired and dark circles orbiting my eyes, the gratitude swelled from my heart and soul during, especially during, a bad sickness.

Both kids bathed. I could hear the strains of their individual chatter and singing.
Peripherally, I spied a stripe of resting sun peeking through a frigid, charcoal-stippled evening sky. One of Abby's watercolor paintings cheerfully beckoned from the laundry room wall. I stood, surrounded by the sturdy solace at the final curve of sick days. Alive with the evidence of life: warmth generated from the constantly spinning dryer. The click click clack of a zipper hitting the sides of the dryer drum hummed to me. I folded the five sets of clothes Henry wore yesterday. I folded many well-loved pajamas.

I garnered incredible solace handling all of their laundry--knowing what each stain represented,
what each of their days held, and knowing that they returned to me at the end of each one. I stood, saturated in the almost primitive workings of my home, my family. I stood, steeped in peace. Because I knew, with clarity, that these days will pass. My future holds many days of not knowing what they wore or where they were or what stained their clothes. My relationships with them will grow and morph, mirroring the children themselves. I know that when I look back on these years with my children, I will miss the complexity, simplicity, sureness and uncertainty of these times. And know that our current rhythms will be replaced by other shades of unrest, growth and certainty.

The kids exited the bathrooms. I dried Henry's body, pink with re-emerging health. I doused him with lotion and pulled fresh, still-warm jammies over his wet hair. He chattered away, describing how he'll detail his ER adventure to his teachers on Monday. I threw a pair of clean PJs to Abby, who ran stark-ass naked down the hall. Hubby would soon pull into the driveway, enter the house and bring with him a warm, delicious pizza.

Full. Contended calm. It was enough.

Malaise over past moments, when I didn't feel this calm, tried to sneak into and shatter my contended bliss. Tried to scold and condemn me for seemingly wasting away moments wrought with frustration and annoyance. At needy kids and heaps of laundry and little time. But instead of acquiescing to this judgmental chatter, I felt indebted to the past. For the evolving changes. For the grace of thankfulness. For the learning I've garnered as I traverse this life of mine. My steps surely delivered me to this moment of gratitude, for everything, as is. Enough.

6 comments:

Lindsey said...

This is lovely ... my favorite image is of the sturdy solace of regular life ... I know just what you mean, and for me it is often the laundry, too, which grounds me and also reminds me of how fast it will go. How fast it is already going.
Glad Henry is on the mend. Glad your words are back. xoxo

Aging Mommy said...

Lovely post Denise. You are so very right, there is no sense in continuing to look back to those times when coping with the all of it was hard. It is the here and now that matters and so you should just rejoice in being as you are now, happy.

Christine said...

And so you found the words, and beautiful and soul-enriching they are. I held my breath while I read and soaked every one in. Because I get this as I find myself so wonderingly (is that a word?) freed from my own fog. So so lovely my friend, thank you for showing us here.

Erin said...

What a breathtaking post. So relatable in so many ways. You've managed to brilliantly capture what so many of us feel during the daily grind. Loved it!

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Amanda said...

I love being mindful through the passage from unwell to better. It doesn't get any more satisfying than that.