If not for the flu, there would be no combustible onset of body aches and pains, chills, then fever, then chills again, a haze of cough and congestion, sneezing, sore throat, and all over exhaustion. This is a bad one, between us. The kind of flu that makes you want to disinfect everything, everyone as they enter in or out the door. The kind of flu that makes us want to cast a protective bubble around all three of our children, protect them from this ill state: not love, not marriage, the flu. But we know better. No such ultimate protection exists, just healthy eating, good and constant hand washing, surface washing, an open window or two, and love without hugs or kisses for a few days. Our hellos and goodbyes drift from our lips to our carefully scrubbed fingertips.
This cruel crackling ill is playing badly right at this very moment through the baby monitor, (thankfully it’s not the baby), my husband on his first of what will be many a dark day with this contagion. I’m on my fourth day in peril with this illness and it has shut my world completely down to fluids—tea, soup, and comfort—a rotation of soft white cotton sheets filled with fever, germs, us.
If not for the flu, (I should note, I didn’t get the flu shot, but my husband did), we might pretend our signature household—our go, go, go lifestyle was infallible. We might think we are invincible, capable of human feats we can only imagine in comics, novels, and movies. The kids would watch us and think they too could do anything—and sometimes they can, we can—but our steps are all measured by something. And if not for the flu, we might get too cozy with our germs, shorten our hand washing, or miss out on that soothing warm tea sweetened with buckwheat honey. We might forget or dismiss how vulnerable we really are, or in that same breath—how much we’re really loved by someone else.
So while we fight this germ filled battle, together, with every bit of “wait it out” we can muster, I’ll just take a moment to be thankful. If not for the flu, I might be tempted to forget love keeps us—in sickness and in health.