A nasty stomach virus ripped through our home this week, upending routines, temporarily transforming relationships, humbling each of us by reminding us how vulnerable we are, not only in our bodies, but in our illusion of control over our lives. The fiercely private and independent teenager, for a few miserable hours, is reduced almost to her helpless infant self, weak, utterly dependent on and grateful for the care of her usually unbearable parents. Those who cannot attend school, but most mornings resent rising in darkness, want nothing more than to board the early bus and go; those fortunate healthy ones who can attend school, who unfailingly want to be present and engaged at a desk among peers, long to stay home and bear witness to the mortification of the flesh. All who have not yet been brought down wonder if and when their turn will come, if that twinge of headache or fleeting off taste in the mouth marks the onset of the ordeal.
I, mother and caretaker, am left—loads of laundry, wholesale applications of disinfectant, and many urgent fetchings and carryings later—mourning the fleeting glimpse of a earlier bond, an unconscious and unmediated acknowledgement of the terrifying interdependence and overwhelming love between parent and child.
Mary for the Poplar Grove Muse