My children were both sick with the stomach flu recently. First Sully got it, throwing up all throughout the middle of the night; linens circulating in the laundry, warm baths and moonlight. I brought my limp, feverish boy to my bed finally and held him in my arms, breathing in every drop of him I could get. Because even in the very, very early hours of the morning after being awake all night, it's not every day that I get to hold my baby in my arms like that anymore. Four days later it was Theo who woke vomiting in his bed just before the clock struck midnight. Washing machine whirling again, warm bath running. I then brought him to my bed and curled him in my arms. Throughout the night I stayed awake so that each time he made a little whimper sound in his sleep I could quickly help him sit upright and throw up in a bowl. I'd wipe his mouth, rub his back, tuck him back in, get up and rinse the bowl, repeat. We do enjoy, whether we'd like to use that word or not, the sleepless nights and vomit and endless laundry because it means that our children are still here. Gratitude in its dark cloak.
I have spent the better part of the last two days in bed or on the couch. I have not eaten in two days, only sips of warm water or icy ginger ale. My mind went flat and my body quickly followed with some form of flu. A heart-mama friend of mine lost a little one in their community two weeks ago. This past weekend, in an online community of women that I used to be a part of, and where I met some of my closest girlfriends, lost a three year old in an unthinkable, tragic way. Her mama's words "I am broken" rattled me all the way down to my soul. Rattled all of us.
For the last two days, the windows have been open and I've listened to my boys and the neighbor kiddos running around in the sunshine, so happy to be outside playing, warm. The sound of their voices carrying into the house, filling space that has been sitting closed up and cold. I think back to a recent article I read written by the mother of a Sandy Hook victim. She wrote about the pain of her son's death that came after the first few days, following the immediate shock. She said that she felt as if she were disintegrating. The image of her in such despair brought tears to my eyes. We are women, mothers, humans. We worry together and disintegrate together and pray together. Our children belong to all of us; when something goes horribly wrong, we lay our heads and hearts down together.
Last night I began reading Anne Lamott's new book Stitches. In divine order, it happened to be next up on my "to read" book pile. We live stitch by stitch. That line.
Off and on throughout the day yesterday, Sully would come inside and draw a picture. By day's end, I had a stack. He drew me and him. He said he was sad that I wasn't feeling good. He drew the sky orange because orange is my favorite color. He drew me for the first time with this wild, big hair. It is gorgeous hair. At one point I turned my head into my pillow and wiped a few exhausted, sad tears away. And then I prayed. Because right now that is all I know how to do. Stitch by stitch. And enjoy all of it, no matter what.