The Tummy Bug

We’ve survived it again, that yearly menace: the stomach virus.

Thankfully, it didn’t come out of nowhere this year. My daughter told me it was going around her class, and believe me, she didn’t have to tell me twice. I’m a winter wash-my-hands-aholic as it is, and we’re in the middle of the no-sharing-food-until-June season (it started in September). I now have hand sanitizer in my purse, in the car, in the entryway, and on the coffee table for goodness sake. But if one of my kids were to pick up the bug at school, then there wouldn’t be at thing I could do about it.

At the first sign of impending barfing (“Mom, I’m really tired. Can I just go to bed?”), I mobilized. I’d already bought Gatorade (to replenish electrolytes) in anticipation of the bug. I was remarkably caught up on laundry, so clean towels and sheets would be no trouble at all. I got 4 trash cans lined and ready (one for each member of the family), and off we went, into the night, with the great hope that we wouldn’t need them.

But we did. One, thank heaven, just one kid. But still it was enough to move me down to the couch, because here’s how I figured it: I’d rather be awake when it happens again, than be surprised in my sleep. I snapped into hypervigilant foxhole mode and lay there, listening, fearful of my own physical well-being, but ready.

After 3 hours, daylight was coming, and I figured the greatest danger had passed. I rolled over to sleep, still anxious, still listening, still fearful. But then I thought about a friend of mine whose daughter’s body systems have become unreliable and unpredictable due to a genetic disorder. I thought of a former classmate who’s just started chemo. I thought of a church member whose cancer, which has already claimed one leg, is spreading.

I realized that peace is available, and it’s available to us all. I had to surrender to sleep, to rest, to not being able, no matter how hard I might try, to control the microbial world and its cellular components. I prayed for these people I know, these ones whose nights would be continually darkened by their respective burdens, that they might sleep. And I hoped that they too might find some miraculous rest.

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