After sweating it out all night, I woke up yesterday morning feeling almost back to normal. My niece found me around 7:30am in front of the linen closet wearing only a long, silky blue blanket, and she thought I might be wearing an elegant ball gown. My sister thought I might have lost my mind but I was trying to change the soaking sheets, which she did for me before I even finished talking to my niece about the gown.
It struck me over the weekend how each of us expresses love in different ways. We often expect to receive it the same way we give it, and yet this is never a cookie cutter equation.
My middle sister kicked into high Florence Nightingale gear: she tracked my medication schedule, fluid intake, temperature, rearranged my blankets according to whether I was hot or cold. She typed out a text to my doctor friend as I dictated, mumbling under the blankets with my eyes closed. She brought my favorite kind of Gatorade (purple). I was practically catatonic and needed and appreciated all of it.
My mom, of course, kicked into high Mom gear, pushing hard early to go to the ER (it was definitely the right decision).
My youngest sister did reiki and, once I was eating, made me life-giving smoothies.
My dad spent much of two days driving me to doctors and waiting, totally without complaint despite the number of hours involved, and took solidarity naps while I slept on.
When my niece asked around the table, “What are you thankful for today?” My brother in law said he was thankful that I was feeling so much better, bringing a tear to my eye.
My niece shows love by giving you a surprise zerbert in the small of your back, under your shirt, while you’re sitting at the table. She always has an enthusiastic plan for something we can do together. She asked every day if I was feeling better.
Her younger sister, my little niece, is pure love at 13 months, saying “ahhhh!’ after sipping a pretend bottle of water or going “woo! woo!” when she sees a dog, or standing at the windowsill looking at birds and then nearly losing her balance because she’s so emphatically doing the sign for bird. My favorite was when I said, “What does the bear say?” and she said, softly with mischief in her eye, “Raw!”
When we said good bye, the baby was waving frantically with a beaming smile. (Can you guys please move to California?)
Littlest sister and I drove 2.5 hrs to Philly and she listened patiently as I talked through my growing suspense about the Moroccan now that I was better and about to return home. We talked through the alternatives. I couldn’t believe this sweet, mild-mannered guy was capable of such a malicious disappearance. I couldn’t reconcile it, couldn’t handle the zero information. I needed closure.
I sat with my phone for a long time at the aiport, about to do something but not sure what. Suddenly, at about the time they probably announced “final boarding call,” I hit his number, and he answered. It was a stupid time to call–I had to show my boarding pass, walk through blowing heaters in the jetway and then pass through an army of wailing babies. But he sounded glad to hear from me, wanted to know how my Thanksgiving was (I told him and he was horrified). I told him I was surprised not to hear from him, wondered if something had happened. He said he’d been working on his immigration paperwork, is really stressed for lots of reasons about it, and just wasn’t feeling optimistic about his “overall situation.” Which maybe means he can’t stay.
That’s all I needed to know. Stressful time for him on pretty much every level, and he’s not super available as a result. He started to offer to pick me up when my flight lands (relief–he didn’t go through a personality reversal!). But I declined and it turns out he leaves town tomorrow for a while so let’s just leave it there for now. We both sounded full of melancholy as we signed off. I sincerely wished him good luck.
It hurt my heart, the sweetness of it.
All of it.