It’s Influenza, Now HOLD ME!

I almost died last week.

I’m talkin real-life, not-sure-I’m-gonna-pull-through-this-one, kids, mama-might-go-meet-Jesus-today almost died.

That’s right.

Influenza will do that to a gal.

{{I’ll wait while you grimace and shake your head in sympathy and awe that I’m still here to tell about it.}}

And if you’re not grimacing and shaking your head in awe, I should tell you, I had a husband and four kids almost die with me.

You’re grimacing now aren’t you?

Especially at the husband part huh?

Although MY husband, who, after staying home only ONE wee little day from work, went right back to it shortly after I suggested maybe he was being a little wuss-like since **I** wasn’t falling NEARLY as hard as HE seemed to be.

And yeah, those were probably the last words I said to him before he went out that morning, coughing stoickly and leaving me behind in a house that wasn’t yet a sick house.

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He didn’t do the typical sick-husband, stop-the-household-Daddy’s-sick bit.

So those WERE the last words that rang through my ears when, just hours after his departure, I found myself sitting in shell shock on the couch, a glass of ice water on the end table, a blanket over my lap, and razor blades in my throat.

My eyes glazed I’m sure at the kids when they asked “Mama? Are you okay?” My husband may or may not have reminded me of my cheap shot  lack of confidence in him when he heard how sick I was later that day.

“Mama’s fine kids. However, today might be the day that Mama goes to meet Jesus.”

Their awkward silence filled the room.

“Uhhh…geez Mom. Don’t do THAT okay?”

I’m sure I heard another one mumble “Yeah..who’ll feed us??” but instead of asking them to repeat, I used all my remaining muscles to feebly shape my mouth into a smile and shriek a silent, just-kidding laugh through the butcher knives that had taken up residence in my tonsils.

Yeah, it was that bad.

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Somehow, my big strong husband who was sick but still worked his twelve hour shift that day and every day since, well he managed to swing in somewhere and bought some sort of food product and the kids ate it for dinner while I practiced my skills of staying still.

I moved only to breathe. If I could’ve gotten out of doing that, I would’ve. Something had happened to my ribs and my backbone and moving/breathing/sitting/laying/talking/standing/living hurt like a fresh bruise. My knees and ankles felt the same but I didn’t have to breathe out of them so they just laid there still and obedient on the footstool and under the blanket.

For three days my routine was to wake up mid-morning after not sleeping all night. I’d stand before the household, think of something to tell my children to make for breakfast and they’d slip into their chef roles to take care of chow time while I settled my dying self on the couch-turned-command center. Somewhere round mid-afternoon, we’d all lay down and take a solid nap where I went unconscious for no less than two hours and would wake feeling like maybe the fever had subsided at least enough to not toast my cerebellum.

My guilt was terrible, and on the phone with my hard-workin husband one day (who was still coughing stoickly by the way) I told him I was so thankful for his hard-workin self and that I felt terrible for calling him a wussy.

He assuaged my guilt and reminded me that as a dad, when he’s home with sick kids he lets the crowd go Lord of the Flies and just throws the conch shell out in the middle of the room and tells em to go at it.

I didn’t remind him that I wasn’t doing much more, because frankly, just hearing him say he thought I was doing anything made me feel a wee bit better. Since there was no conch shell involved, maybe by just being Mom I was doing SOMETHING.

I should note that by date 2 of this abrubtly imposed quarantine routine, one of my children came to me feverish and schlumpy, complaining of a sore throat, and a second cherub was showing signs of a cough that rivaled a barking seal.  They joined me at Command Central and the three of us, pajama-clad and glassy-eyed, practiced our staying-still skills together.

In and out of naps I dreamt of conch shells and face paint.

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My big boy was running the show.

Barnyard chores? BOOM. The teenager took care of them.

Lunchtime? BAM. Not a thing that kid can’t cook.

Phone ringing? Don’t worry Mama, I got it.

Jehovah’s Witness coming up the drive? “Please go away today. My mom is sick.”

What did I do when I got sick and they were all little?

Oh that’s right. It didn’t happen.

Us moms of littles have no time for luxuries such as influenza when there are diapers to change.

On Day 4, I got up and never took a nap that day.

On Day 5, I sat at the table instead of on the couch.

On Day 6, I felt like maybe Jesus wasn’t ready for me to come Home just yet after all and on Day 7 my body was so strong and my love so big, with the faithful help of my big boy and my Bosch mixer, I was able to whip up 20 loaves of bread to send in for our church family’s Wednesday night dinner and I didn’t even break a sweat or have to sit down.

We were ALIIIIIIIVE.

Well, most of us.

I still had two in the tail ends of the satanic flu claw, one who’d come to me that morning with a pink face and a scratchy voice, but then, there was my big boy, the lone hold-out who woke each morning and gave me the voice test and had, each day, passed with flying colors.

We cleared our calendar for the week.

We made a few phone calls and people said “Whoah. Yeahhhh….good idea, stay home.”

We learned that this nasty had taken out MANY folks, some of them twice.

So we enjoyed our home.

We ignored its messes and its laundry that overflowed and its refridgerator that heaped up kid-packed bowls of leftovers and bottles of katsup piled on the shelves instead of in the door compartments.

We watched Netflix. Goodness did we watch Netflix.

We worked some on 4-H assignments and we cleared the table when we could no longer see the top and we swept the floor when we lost a dog in the tufts.

We were home.

And then, when it was time to go back out….

…I heard angels singing.

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I crawled out of the cave of my home like a mole who one day comes to the bright surface of the planet and the light OH DID IT SHINE and I even put my make up on that day because it’d been at LEAST a year since I’d seen another living soul and I was ALIIIIIIVE as I crawled up into my old creaky Ford and flashed a brilliant smile to my babies in the rearview.

Our trip found us at the department store (a step up from Walmart) because somehow, we’d neglected to have ENOUGH laundry done to provide nice clothes for my littlest’s violin recital.

The stress of the trip about took us out at the knees, and sweaty and shaky, we all left after two trips to the fitting room, some mindless throwing of clothes into the cart and a few Cadbury eggs for strengthening.

We doubled up on cough drops to silence the sound we’d come to call The Traveling Hospital and all six of us managed to smile and clap our way through the recital to the very end.

And then today….back to church.

We weren’t gone long. Just two Wednesdays and one Sunday.

But something about being back to church after having almost died….

…everyone looks a little different, a little softer around the edges.

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It’s a big church, so it’d probably take us quite a while of being gone before too many people missed us…

But boy, seeing the familiar faces after a couple weeks of not…

…it made me realize how much we’d miss THEM.

The cozy little cliques that always tend to gather together and chatter and giggle and smile about the small comforts and pretty things.

The sweet little elderly couples that wrote the book for us on marriage and sit shoulder-to-shoulder week in and week out and link fingers on the thighs of church slacks as they share through their pinkies and minds the hurt and love and joy and wonder of falling in love and raising a family and watching the body of their best friend grow older and feebler and one day closer to leaving this earth and meeting the One they have served together all these years.

The ones that, like us, have been gone for a short time.

The ones that have been gone for a long time.

The ones that look to our family for hugs.

The ones that don’t quite know how to hug yet.

The ones that sing so beautifully you just want to close your eyes and let their voice carry you straight to the angels because you know one day it is going to sound just…like…that.

And you just want to say HOLD ME.

I almost died but now I’m here and I missed you and I need you so HOLD ME!

And if it wouldn’t embarrass your kids who love too but who love quiet, you’d go around and hug everyone and say let’s just not worry about not looking put together and healthy because we’re ALL sick and we all need each other and I miss you when we’re apart so hold me.

You’d hold everybody’s hand who came close enough to touch and if they didn’t come close enough you’d just go on and touch them anyway even though there are germs involved because maybe they’re saying HOLD ME too but just a little quieter than you.

That preacher who missed us while we missed him, he talked about worship and how every single time we’re in church we can be worshipping but especially when we’re not at church.

We need to hold people.

The ones who reminded us of the psalms that were a part of this day so long ago, they sang and said Behold! and made us all feel like we walked Jerusalem too.

We need holding on the walk.

And my body can be an act of worship and I can use these hands to hold and these arms to hug and the smile on my face can build and the words my mind thinks can travel out my mouth to encourage and when I do that…

I’m holding you.

Because really, aren’t we’re all dying?

I might not be the cool kid, and you might not dress fashionably, and each one of us is a little awkward, but most days we all read the news and on the smell of the newsprint we can see that while we’re all busy trying to look healthy and strong and part of the in crowd, we’re all dying and this world needs holding.

And in that need there are kids who’d love to share our messy home, any home.

There are mamas who lose their fight to cancer and cross into glory leaving their best friends and children behind.

There are families uncertain about the future and how to best train up their child as they watch more and more of their freedoms disappear.

There are countries that are eating themselves alive from the inside out.

There are armies fighting an imaginary war and killing their enemies whose only offense is carrying the light of the world.

And during it all He lives and He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  {Psalm 46:10}

Be held.

As sick ones sit tender in their illness and practice their stillness skills, He says “I will be exalted among the nations,  I will be exalted in the earth.”

He is alive.

So we are too.

The flu isn’t going to kill me.

It’ll slow me down for a bit and it’ll still me and it’ll remind me of where my strength comes from.

But it won’t kill me.

One day this body will eventually give out due to illness or age if He doesn’t return for us first but before it does, He gave me you.

He gave me the ones that share my walls.

He gave me the people who come to church now, and the ones who will come later.

He gave me the ones that don’t yet know Him.

He gave them to me and to you and He gave us the reminder that He holds us and He sustains us and He tells us that He made these arms and that He strengthens them too.

And today, when I was feeble, He reminded me.

These people are brothers and they are sisters and though we are dying, we are strong.

That sometimes we are to be still. But that even in our stillness we are serving.

And in my stillness and in my strengthening and in my serving, today, I realize it.

In my holding, they hold me.

Because we are alive, -because we are dying- they need me.

And for all the same reasons…

…I need them too.

God sets the lonely in families; He leads out the prisoners with singing…Psalm 68:6

2 thoughts on “It’s Influenza, Now HOLD ME!

    1. Cassandra Post author

      Thank you! How wonderful to hear from a new friend who read our little book! So nice to meet you, and thank you so much for coming to visit, please do come again! Hugs, Cassandra ❤

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      Reply

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