At first it was a stretch: I just couldn't quite see the connection between dry heaves and patience.
But I knew that somewhere, deep in the miasma of this hideous stomach bug that made my entire body ache and my throat burn and my head feel that it was about to pop off my neck and go spinning into the atmosphere....somewhere, there had to be a story in this.
It's one of a mom's worst nightmares, to be completely incapacitated by sickness. Most moms I know operate on the assumption that the entire circus, of which we are each ringmasters, would grind to a halt completely should we become so sick that we wouldn't/couldn't be directing the next Act.
Yet incapacitated I was. Flat out on the couch. The slightest movement brought on waves of nausea, and I didn't want a single thing except to lie very very still and be covered by forty two blankets.
I suppose I was lucky: I was laid out on a weekend, better yet on a weekend day with forty inches of snow on the ground that meant 1) lots of outdoor distraction with Daddy and 2) school was definitely canceled, so I wasn't facing a clean clothes/lunch packed/the BUS, MOM!!! kind of deadline.
I laid on the couch, vaguely listening to the hum of activity around me: breakfast served, cleaned up, snow clothes on and off, lunch served, cleaned up, a grocery store run to get ginger ale and bananas, the usual sibling battles.
But I also began to register newer, unfamiliar noises: my four year old periodically stopped to kiss my cheek, and whisper I love you Mommy into my ear. My two year old brought over a hairbrush and did her best to make me 'pitty'. My eldest wouldn't come within three feet of me, for fear of catching germs, but she never took her eyes off me, and spent the day asking if she could get me anything, and caring for her siblings if her own life depended on it. I'd sort of assumed hell might freeze over before I witnessed a seven year old take her baby sister to the potty, read books to her the whole time, and then help her climb in bed for a nap - but happen it did.
The thought began to whisper itself quietly in my feverish brain: Patience. Patience. Patience. (It might have been flu-induced delirium, but I like to think it was that still small voice, the one that shows us wisdom in the face of life's absurdities.)
I began to see that, unlikely as the circumstances might be, we were all learning patience. I was forced to be patient with my body while it healed. Patient with my family as they muddled along (quite successfully) without me. They were patient with each other: allowing for misunderstanding, imperfection, tantrums, and messes. Most miraculously, they were patient with me: there were no demands for shoes to be tied, noses to be wiped, lunches to be made, fights to be resolved. They offered the patient their patience.
(But lest you worry about this perfectly patient family of mine? Mom is back to 90% health at least, and the kids are back to normal - I'll just go pull them off each other's throats now.)