Monday, December 13, 2010

The Winter Vomiting Virus

That's what the UK National Health Service is calling it.

And it lives up to every bit of its name.

First, it's definitely a cold, wintry virus--both literally and figuratively. Literally, because the virus was born amidst freezing temperatures and aloft huge mounds of fluffy white snow. Figuratively, because the virus is certainly cold-hearted, like a viper, or a python, or a rattlesnake, or another snake, or something else that has no warmth at all in its heart.

Second, I'm glad that the NHS lets us know right up front that it is a VOMITING virus--just in case we were confused about what this virus was going to do to our throats and tummies. Indeed! There will be vomiting galore! Vomiting everywhere!

The NHS was right about that one. Good call.

Thirdly, it's certainly a virus, in the most virusy sense of that word. It spreads. It leaps tall buildings in a single bound. It jumps from person, to person, to person. (Just like a virus.)

Tyler came down with it first. Upchuck tally: five times, all in one session.

Then I caught the virus. Upchuck tally: twenty times, spread equally throughout five sessions.

Finally, Jennifer caught the virus. Upchuck tally: twenty-two times, spread throughout four sessions.

This Winter Vomiting Virus activity began in out little home on Lesley last Wednesday evening. Tyler had woken from his nap upset, and while I attempted to soothe him--rub his head, scratch his back, you know--he proceeded to deliver a massive waterfall all over me and his room.

I phoned Jen, who came rushing home from her office on campus. And here I will admit: Jennifer is calmer and better in a pickle than I am. In a pickle, I begin to wonder what in the heck to do: eat the pickle? Throw the pickle away somewhere? Or I ask, WHY DID THIS PICKLE HAVE TO COME FIND US TODAY!?

Jennifer, meanwhile, calmly assesses the situation, trusts that all will be well, and then carries on. (Indeed, she's a role model for me of Keep Calm and Carry On, the sign that now hangs on a wall as we descend our stairs.)

Tyler calmed down, the upchuck on his floor was sanitized, and we all eventually took a deep breath.

Until the next day, when I phoned Jen at her office again.

I felt the gurgling, you see.

In the tummy.

Jen came home yet again, and this time, she and Tyler stayed calm while I did some enormous spewing.

The next day, we all stayed home, in our pajamas, and watched massive amounts of Blue's Clues, Barney, Bob the Builder, The Fibbles, and Thomas the Tank Engine. For a family that watching basically nothing on the television, we all kind of collapsed and spent hours hanging off the couch singing ridiculous songs that would stay in my head late into the night as I was trying to fall asleep.

But before sleep that evening, yes, you guessed it: Jen felt the gurgling.

In the tummy.

Sparing the really icky, yucky, gooey, gassy details, we all made it to Monday morning.

As I type these words, Jen is at the office on campus.

Tyler is napping.

I am writing.

Monday morning never felt so dang glorious.

And the rub of it all is that making it through a tough virus like that--a cold-hearted virus--makes us realize that life isn't about perfection. It isn't about trying to live in such a way that nothing bad ever happens, no mistakes are ever made, or you never get sick.

Because, after all, let's face it: no matter what, you're going to get sick.

Even if you lived inside a bubble, hey, you're going to get mighty sick of that bubble, right?

There's no way to escape some vomiting in this lifetime (the literal vomiting, or the figurative kind). What we realize after our little dance with the cold-hearted snake is this: what matters is the way you learn to lean on one another, fortifying each other for the dreams and the journey ahead, reminding each other that nothing good ever happened without trial.

The difficulty of our pain and the height of our joy are both second to the way we love each other through either.