Mary and I have been sick for weeks, months, years. Well, honestly, she has been sick for 15 days, and I have been sick 10 days. It feels like months. We have each other for company, but otherwise we have dropped off the edge of the earth. All routines interrupted, appointments rescheduled, work and personal responsibilities on hold. We wait for influenza to run its course.
Mary started coughing soon after her fever broke. It was tolerable at first, but irritating. The first night of her coughing, I fell asleep quickly, exhausted. Sometime in the middle of the night, a loud noise startled me awake, my whole body spasming, ready to fight or flee. It was, of course, Mary.
Enter a relatively comfortable, conveniently located pull-out couch in the living room. After the first night of coughing, Mary spent two nights on the couch. The fourth night, I gallantly volunteered to sleep on the couch. Mary is so pleased with warm fluffy covers and a soft bed, I wanted her to have the bed since she felt so crappy. Temporary, right?
Nope. I got sick a few days later, and developed a cough. Suddenly our home was filled with uncontrollable coughing at any time of the day or night. The only way either of us had a chance at getting any sleep was by bedding down separately. Let my coughing fits wake me up in the middle of the night, but not Mary, and vice versa.
That has been the state of affairs here at the Wittorff-Zompetti household, and that is how things continue. At least I have a nice view of a linden tree from my bed/couch arrangement.
But wait, what about today’s happy moment?
Picture it, Sicily, 1929… okay, not really. Picture it, this morning, Vermont, 2015.
I walk through the door with my hands full, knocking snow off my boots. Vermont winter has settled in, and the temperature outside is a balmy 11 degrees. My face is covered several times with cloth in the hope of easing the pain in my lungs from breathing such cold, dry air. A coughing fit follows as I set down my bundles and enjoy the warmer, kinder air inside the house. I hang my various layers of outdoor clothing, take off my boots, and bring my prize to the kitchen.
This morning I woke at 3 am and could not stop coughing. It was a different sort of cough, more spasmodic instead of the result of congestion. Steaming did not help, cough syrup did not make it go away. I managed to get another hour or so of sleep before morning, but I realized that the dry air (20% humidity) was irritating my already compromised lungs.
For a solution, on my way back from a chiropractic appointment this morning, I stopped by Walgreens and sprung for a decent quality warm humidifier. Now, back at home, I can not wait to try it out! Maybe I will finally stop coughing! I fill the reservoir and plug it in to do its magic, strategically placing it near my sleeping area. I smile as pleasantly warm steam slowly waifs from the machine. I bring my digital humidity gauge from the kitchen and place it near the machine. I want to make sure this thing actually makes a difference.
While I wait for my new cure-all to work its magic, Mary and I lay down on the pull-out bed and snuggle. The covers are soft and comfortable, the room temperature stays pleasantly warm although wind whips the branches of the trees outside. We talk and just enjoy the moment. Various cats join us on the bed to doze and enjoy the comfort with us. I look at Mary in my arms, see her eyes, the curve of her chin, the angle of her nose. I take a good look, and see the developing lines that are slowly sculpting her face into an even more attractive visage. We talk of I do not know what, just that close and comfortable talk that couples share when they are relaxing. I hear the cats purring around me. I look out the window and see the gray sky, the strong tree, the pasture in the background. I hear the burbling of the newly plugged in humidifier.
I pause, and realize – I am happy. I take a moment to savor the sensation, the feelings in my body and mind. I do not remember when I had such a clearly happy moment since my injury. Life is good. Yes, I am sick, my mom broke her hip and I am out of work because I am injured. And, I feel competent and able to rely on myself to navigate my world again. That sense of ability has snuck up on me. I did not realize it had returned.
I am happy. I am blessed. The world is a gift. It is an honor to follow this story called my life. Blessed be.