With a clear head, energy, and eyes to see the sun shining outside my window, I can finally say that I’m healthy. A few days before Christmas our youngest started coughing and sneezing. Within 24 hours I found myself with him at Urgent Care and a positive Influenza A diagnosis (apparently not contained in the vaccine our family got). The following week and a half remains a blur: schedules of medicine, coughing, aching, watching for symptoms, lots of hand washing, elderberry syrup, and lots of rest. Three of the four members of our family came down with the flu, but with the new year we’re all feeling better.
As disappointing as it was to miss Christmas Eve worship with the family and any semblance of ritual for the Christmas holiday, there are a few lessons I’m taking away from the experience. Since it’s only January, if you find you or members of your family sick this winter, perhaps you will experience these blessings as well.
I wish I didn’t need to be immobile before listening to my body and taking time to rest and simply be. But it’s not until I can’t physically move that I take time to rest. When my son was sick we spent time sitting in the rocking chair; I had nowhere else to be other than caring for him. When I couldn’t muster any energy we all gathered in the living room, blankets and pillows surrounding us, and sat together on the couch. Moving into the new year I hope to pay attention to what my body is telling me which I realize I can’t do unless I’m willing to stop and listen and just be present.
Watching my children
When I was on the couch I had an up-close view of my children playing. A coffee table stands in the middle of the living room that has become a make-shift play area. Trains and cars in a line, paper and crayons are scattered, and books piled high. Generally if my kids are playing (and cooperating together) I occupy myself with some other task. But when I was sick, I couldn’t do anything else. I saw their faces filled with joy while watching the stories and worlds they created come to life. Being sick allowed me the chance to really see my children.
After Christmas when we didn’t have enough energy to leave the house (and were still quite contagious) we all piled on the couch and watched movies. We had a great time immersing ourselves in stories that will be a reminder of this Christmas, the one where we were all sick, but where we enjoyed movies and music together.
Care from neighbors
When one parent in the house is sick and the other is working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day there’s not much time or effort given to food preparation. Thankfully our neighbors provided for us. We had numerous meals dropped off to our home: chicken soup to heal our bodies and Christmas cookies to fill our Christmas spirits. More than a fair share of friends in town were also battling the flu which allowed for text messages and phone calls checking in and commiserating. No one wanted to be sick but since we were we couldn’t be more grateful for the friends and community who stepped up to feed us, check in on us, and remind us we’re not alone.
I hope you don’t get sick this winter, but if you do, I hope you experience a few of the gifts that come from listening to your body, seeing what’s right in front of you, and allowing others to help you.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website or follow her work on Facebook.