I'm still in my clothes. Pajamas from yesterday, now stained with iodine and blood from the nurse's first IV attempt, when my vein blew out and stoic me welled with tears and my arm burned hot and blood rolled down. Three nights without sleep, not even a minute, and the lights and blips and beeps of the hospital room are exhausting while I'm trying to suck thick air into these dysfunctional lungs.
It's the same rigmarole as always -- I get sick, then I dehydrate, then my systems begin to fail, but today I'm home again and my jaw isn't locked any longer and I am full of intravenous saline solution to give my weary blood a boost.
But the coughs keep coming violent, and my head is rattled and my throat is raw and my body hasn't made it out of bed yet. Between doses, a break in the codeine-haze, so I pad slippered feet to the kitchen and remember what happens to homes when moms are paralyzed to bed. Twenty-four hours without sweeping or straightening, rinsing or fussing, and this habitat is worse for the wear. This is what life looks like when Mom goes out of order.
But I am restless in this bed and I will cough prone or I will cough prostrate so I put my weary self in the shower and rinse off the yuck. I putz and straighten and put on purple gloves at the sink because the house smells rotten now and I marvel at how quickly all my daily work gets undone. I dig beneath the weariness and find the joy here, while suds multiply in a stinking sink, and recall a time when the work of this home-life didn't feel like much of a gift. When dishes and diapers and puddles on the floor felt oppressive, when I longed for success of a different variety, when childhood friends would look sideways at the grown-up and domesticated me, and they'd click their tongues and say, sadly, "You could have been so much."
But today, I smile, because I am out of bed despite the war my lungs are waging, and I have traded pearls and cocktail parties, briefcases and penthouses for purple dish gloves and sticky faces and I got the better end of things. And when I glimpse, briefly, into the me they think I could have been, I don't recognize her at all and there is nothing bigger that I could have done than look into these creamy faces with tangled hairdos, click-clacking away at the work that provides with a child on my knee, sneaking a peak every so often at the man on the other side of the bed but on the same side of this life. I can't imagine living without this daily chaos, this happy bedlam with its do-it-all-again-tomorrow comforts and too many Band-Aids and erupting fits of laughter because without them, with my pearls and my parties…
I could have missed so much.