Love comes in the form of hearty soups, home-made risotto, chocolate muffins, carrot cake and hand-picked groceries. In shopping bags filled with chocolates, wine, sticker books and hand drawn cards.
It is found in the caring texts, the offers of babysitting and treatments, wordless hugs and showing up at bedtime for the third night in a row to help out with crazy hour. The sending of funny memes, showing up by the hospital bed to make the waiting time speed up, picking up a kid for a playdate and returning them home bathed and pajama-clad. It is knowing that a text sent at 2:30am will be read instantly because they are as worried as you are.
It began with a return of a sinus infection on Sunday. I was already listless on the couch and Dave mentioned that he had been feeling a constant pain in his right lower side. We googled it and realised he was probably suffering from appendicitis.
After a quick trip to an after hours doctor Sunday night, he checked himself into the Emergency Department Monday morning and was soon admitted. What we didn’t realise was that he would be still there fasting and waiting for surgery until late last night.
In Dave’s absence, Hudson was felled by a strange throat and mouth infection that saw him wake inconsolable from the swelling in his cheeks every two hours on Monday night. I maxed out the doses of pain medication just to stop him from moaning. Ivy began coughing with the haunting sound of croup.
I’m not known for dealing well when things deviate ‘off-course’. I catastrophise, stress out and erupt at those closest to me.
This time, however, my mental game has largely been positive. I read this quote on Twitter just before the storm began which helped me reorient my perspective.
So often in life I choose to rail at the wind instead, channelling my breath into raging at the deviation from ‘the picture in my head’ – despite the reality that I control so little of my existence. This time, I chose to put one foot in front of the other, stay calm and move with the curveball instead.
Listening to Richard Rohr last week enlightened me to an entirely new understanding of the interaction of the trinity. He described a beautiful dance, a flow of endless service, love and generosity that humanity is invited into at every moment. This depiction of the divine has enchanted me and given me a framework for the practical workings of my day. Now instead of asking myself if I am ‘doing’ the right thing, I ask if I am in the ‘flow’. Am I reacting to my kids with patience even though my emotional and physical energy is depleted? Am I staying calm and exuding gratitude instead of frustration? That’s the flow!
It would be remiss of me to pretend that the experience has been akin to walking on a cloud, however. It has been saying often wearily ‘just go and turn the TV on’, handing out bags of tiny teddies and cubes of cheese liberally and not caring about how it will impact dinner appetites. It has been tears and terse messages wondering why the hell this is taking so long, the phone a new extension of my twitching arm. It is the constant bribing of kids with food in quiet hospital rooms, waking up on the hour to check if there are any surgical updates. The heartbreak of not being the one he is screaming out for in the middle of the night, but the only option there is. It is taking pain medication regularly, knowing you need to be strong because you are now the Mummy and the Daddy for the next few days. Staring into worried faces in the rearview mirror, knowing they are taking in more than they should.
It has certainly helped that both family and friends have rallied around us, carrying us practically and emotionally through the unforeseen stress. Despite recovering from a nasty flu herself, my Mum came two days in a row to help out with the kids, allowing me to visit Dave alone. Pat and John have pretty much been on standby since the pain began, driving Dave to the hospital, staying with him, helping at bedtime every night, making soup, bringing magazines, returning to wait for an after hours doctor when Hudson was inconsolable, even looking after Hudson today so that I could get some recovery time.
It’s no secret that while I love providing help, I’m not that great at accepting it, but this time I really tried to change that. Offers of help were met with acceptance and we have been blessed with an abundance of meals and groceries from beautiful, thoughtful people.
All the emotions are close to the surface at the moment. We are so appreciative of the mundane reality of ‘normal routines’, that we live in a country where healthcare is free, and an era in which appendicitis is not a fatal condition thanks to the advances of surgery. We are thankful that this is a blip in an otherwise ‘easy’ existence, and that our schedules are not indefinitely being shifted to take into account a serious ongoing illness. We feel so keenly the current of love that is carrying our whole family, the prayers from every corner that Dave would make the list last night and not get bumped off again. It has been an incredible experience, despite the complete lack of sleep for a number of days and the pain that comes from being sliced open.
Recovery time may be slow and getting energetic kids to avoid elbowing sensitive areas might be tricky, but we will just have to adjust those sails. Turns out that being carried by love can a humbling, beautiful and spiritual experience, despite the unfortunate surrounding circumstances.