Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Monday, January 16, 2006

"She is so ill, St. John." ~ Jane Eyre

I have no choice but to write this early morning, since I am unable to sleep. I am battling a fever and find myself unable to move my neck. For me, being sick as an adult is an extreme inconvenience. While others may admit that on some level they enjoy an excuse to be in bed all day, I find this completely irritating. I ignored it yesterday, cooking and doing things around my apartment, which is probably why I am feeling a great deal of pain in this moment. After 27 years, I suppose I am foolish for thinking that I have a chance of winning the battle with my body.

Although becoming ill as an adult are times I wish never existed, my sick days as a child are amongst my favorite childhood memories.

My mother became excited when I got sick, even in my last days at home before college graduation. I know it sounds ironic, but it really isn't. She is the best caretaker, and this always gave her an opportunity to shine. It was her moment to do what she does best, and I was one admiring fan, let me tell you.

There was a routine when I became sick as a child. Usually I would wake her up in the middle of the night and explain to her my maladies, and she would bring me downstairs to administer anything I needed in that moment, such as Tylenol. She would become adamant and insist that I not go to school the next day, which was usually music to my ear-infected ears. Eventually I would fall asleep again, and revel in the fact that I was able to sleep while everyone else in the house was getting ready for school and work.

Illnesses requiring a doctor's visit were not the best of sick days. I was usually had pain in my ear, as I do now, and felt horrid. On those days my father would come home early from work, though, so that was always nice. When I was really young and in pain, my mom would hold me and sing to me a song she made up involving Sesame Steet characters. My mother has been singing songs to Jack lately that are made up; I love it.

Illnesses not needing a doctor's visit were always the best of sick days. I would sleep late and emerge from my room in the late morning and walk down our spiral staircase. My mother would usually be in the kitchen, and when she saw me she went into mommy-mode extreme. She spoke to me with her best "sing-songy" voice, touching my forehead and then setting up a plan for recovery which she verbalized to me.

The plan for recovery usually involved her setting up pillows on the couch in the den with a side table for all food and liquids. I was tucked under a blanket and given the remote. I watched re-runs of I Love Lucy or episodes of Sesame Street. My mother would always make me tea, which I never drank back then and had no idea why she tried each time to have me drink it, and make me toast. For lunch there was homemade soup with saltines. Sometimes she would sit with me, and when I was really ill, she would insist that I go back to sleep.

My mother called me three yesterday to see how I was feeling. She was in vintage mommy-mode, with sing-songy voice and all. She offered to come over last night when I was beginning to get worse, but I told her absolutely not. She has to watch Jack this week, and I do not want my nephew sick. Of course in the future when he is inevitably going to get sick, I have a feeling that my sisters, my mom, and I are all going to get in each other's way as we take care of him, my mom doing what she does best and my sisters and I emulating her. Poor Jack: he will have ten pieces of toast in front of him, there will be cups of piping-hot tea everywhere he turns, there will be enough blankets to cover an army, and fights over who will administer his bubblegum-flavored medicine.

Addendum/5:04pm: My mother is upset that I won't allow her to see me since I am contagious and on medication after a doctor's visit; true to her form, she left homemade soup, a big chocolate chip cookie, a get well soon card, and an Elmo balloon on my stoop. Its nice to know that after 27 years, my mother still treats me like I am 7 years when I am sick. I have the best mother.


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