So we had a little excitement here this morning, when my husband called me into the bathroom to show me how one of his eyes was bleeding.
As I believe I’ve mentioned before, normally in our marriage my husband is The Person In Charge Of Being Calm, and I am The Person Who Gets To Freak Out. But clearly that arrangement wasn’t going to work for us today. So I dug down deep inside myself, and was able to come up with a tiny reservoir of calm. In this way I followed the wonderful example of my mother who, I believe, developed her inner reservoir of calm as a result of Raising A Son.
My brother is a chemist, and one of the things that makes him such an excellent scientist is his curious, inquisitive mind. However, what that meant for him as a child was that he was totally unafraid to try anything. And who had to be there to deal with the results? My mom.
When my brother decided that it would be really cool to have a pet snake, who was in charge of feeding the snake and cleaning out its cage? My mom. When he decided to start lifting weights and built his own personal gym in our attic, who was his spotter? My mom. When he needed to be taken to the emergency room so many times that we joked that he had his own frequent visitor card, who was always there to play Florence Nightingale? My mom.
In retrospect, despite all of his various injuries my brother might actually have been an easier child to deal with than I was. All of his stuff was pretty straightforward-blood, bruises, and broken bones. I, however, was the child who, at age seven, asked my mother to explain to me how it was that a person could have a body that would die, but also have a soul that would live forever. I was also the child who came to her in tears at age twelve, caught up in an existential crisis triggered by the fact that I had just realized that I was powerless to stop the passage of time. So in comparison, dealing with a child who had a concussion after falling off a bike without a helmet on might actually have been a refreshing change.
But for me, having to deal with any kind of physical problem is always a challenge. I think it’s because I just forget about my body until something hurts really badly. Then I am always surprised to remember that I am, in fact, a physical being, and not just a giant disembodied mind, moving through the world and pondering The Meaning Of Life.
So that was my other problem today. In addition to just being really squeamish, I was also experiencing a burning arm agony so intense that all of my waking moments were spent fantasizing about hurling my body into something extremely sharp, like a jagged pane of glass or a harpoon, in a desperate attempt to relieve the pain.
Happily this did not prove necessary, and after visits to our respective doctors my husband and I are convalescing at home, waiting for the pizza guy to deliver our generation’s comfort food, and receiving the well-wishes of our three cats.
“I heard you were sick, so I threw up this hairball just for you.”
“In sympathy for your illness, I stole this place mat from the porch and chewed it into submission.”
“I’m so sorry you don’t feel well: Here’s my ass.”
Florence Nightingale’s got nothing on them.