I’ve had the flu for the past eight days. Or perhaps, more accurately, I should say that the flu has had me. Completely. In it’s grip. Which perhaps is why it is called “la grippe” in French. But I diverge, as my feverish mind often has of late.
The thing about being really, really sick, is that everything else fades into the background. You don’t care what you look like. It doesn’t matter if your house is clean or dirty, whether you haven’t showered for days, or if dinner is made. Your focus, if you have a focus, is on the pain or discomfort to go away. To breathe without feeling like you are coughing-up your lungs. For your body to stop aching. To be able to get up out of bed without feeling like you are going to throw up or pass out or both. In a word, being ill is about being alive.
For some reason, when it first hit me that I was getting the flu, I kept thinking, “What’s the point?” Not the point of living or anything so maudlin, but what good could come out of such an uncomfortable experience. I supposed natural selection comes to mind, but since I was fairly sure I was going to survive, I meant, “What can I learn from this experience?”
I thought about this a lot as I lay in bed and on the sofa day after day. I know I’m still a long was from having the answers to the universe, but here is what I came up with:
– Being ill reminds us of our own humanity. It is a great big kick in the ass from the virus to remind you to treasure your health and the days we have on earth, because they are numbered.
– You many think you are independent and can do everything yourself, but if you have someone you can depend on to take care of you while you are ill, you are lucky indeed.
– The gratitude you gain when your body begins to function normally again is a wonderful thing and should be revisited every morning when you rise.
– If you ever doubted that dogs were the most faithful creatures in the world, observe one when you are sick. Mine never left my side when the flu was at it’s worst.
– Illness is a great equalizer. It affects us all at some point, tall and short, young and old, light or dark, rich or poor. No money or beauty or power can keep it away completely, and if it’s your time, it’s your time.
And now, since it appears it’s still my time for a bit longer, I’m going to go lie down with my dog and take a nap.