Guess what. My husband is sick! I can hardly believe it. This is so exciting! I know, I sound like a bad wife, but just hear me out.
In the 7 and a half years I have known my husband, he has never been sick. At least, there has been no physical evidence to support his having been sick. When I bring this up to him with awe and frustration, he sites a day in mid-January 2005 when he slept longer than usual and felt “strange”. Then he asks why I seem to want him to get sick. Fair enough. But you know how some couples have mental lists of things they are anticipating experiencing together for the first time? Such a list might include, say, buying a house, starting a family, or taking their first family vacation. My list, on the other hand, cited what to many might seem trivial and every-day, but to me were significant experiences worth treasuring. For example, I am in possession of a picture we took to document the first time we ever brushed our teeth together. Oh yes, frothy Colgate and big goofy smiles. Another photo my husband took in the aisle of our local grocery store. Our first time buying groceries together, one cart, one card. We even have a picture taken moments before the arrival of our very first guests. It’s a picture of a bed, with neatly stacked towels and gift bags. Not exactly frame worthy. But we had never had people stay with us before, and darn it, we were excited!
And so in the spirit of looking forward to totally normal occurrences, made meaningful only by reason of encountering them together, I anticipated the first time my husband would get sick. I imagined such a plethora of soups simmering constantly, drawing soothing baths, pouring ginger-lemon tea, and buying an actual box of soft tissue paper rather than handing him a roll of toilet paper. Only the good stuff for my man! I have thus been mentally poised and ready for the past 5 1/2 years of marriage for my husband to get sick. Am I cruel to wish temporarily debilitating illness upon my husband so that I might swoop in and care for him? Perhaps. Nonetheless, it has been my wish. Several times throughout the years I thought I was close. He would tell me he was feeling “a bit strange” and go to bed early. I would turn into Mrs. Potts, calling out orders into the air and readying everything just so. The next morning, he would be awake before me and saying that he felt back to normal and, “Can I eat that soup in the fridge?” Hmm.
But yesterday, that all changed. It started with him telling me he felt like he was getting sick. “Sure, sure.” We went about the day normally and at some point during the day he said he felt a tickle in his throat. “Mm-hmm.” We went to see a movie with friends that night. He turned to me sporting his 3D glasses and said he was feeling a bit cloudy. “Huh… Can I have the popcorn, babe?” Later as I was starting to fall asleep, I heard it. A cough. An actual cough. Then another! I sprang up in bed. “Bébé, are you… sick?” “Yes, that is what I have been saying!” The next hour went something like this:
Kale: Do you want a cough drop?!
Mat: Um, OK.
Kale: Not because you are being loud or anything. Just cause, that’s what people do. You know, when they’re coughing.
Mat: Oh, OK. Thanks bébé.
Kale: They are the ones my sis sent with me. The good ones, that don’t taste like cough drops!
Kale: Do you need tissues?!
Mat: No, my nose is OK.
Kale: For now, you mean!
Mat: You are in a good mood.
Kale: Oh no, not at all! This is terrible. Poor you. Hey should I draw a bath?!
Mat: No thanks, it’s 1 o’clock in the morning.
Kale: Oh, right.
Kale: I can make tea!!
Mat: No, that’s OK.
Kale: OK. …so what did you think of the movie?
Mat: (cough) Pretty good. Can I have a cough drop?
Kale: Yes! Good idea! One cough drop, coming up!
This morning we stayed in bed and I could hear him coughing and blowing his nose. (I knew the nose would follow!) It took all my strength not to jump in to a soulful rendition of “A Spoonful of Sugar”, but I figured singing a chirpy musical piece with vocal chords that have not been affected by a cold to your sick loved one is just rude.
So I have spent the day applying self-restraint to my overwhelming desire to turn the entire house into a sick bay. I cannot, however, restrain the “Aww!” accompanied by big sympathetic eyes every time he sneezes or blows his nose. Nobody’s perfect, alright? But there is one thing I did today that was neither annoying nor overdoing it. Something I knew would bring a measure of relief to my poor, finally sick husband. I made him a Hot Toddy.
1 shot whiskey
orange peel, studded with 4 cloves
juice of half an orange
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tbs brown sugar
Bring some water to boil. In a heat-proof glass, combine whiskey, orange peel and juice, and lemon juice. Top off with boiled water. Add sugar and stir. Feel better.
If Florence Nightingale had moonlighted as a bartender, I believe this would have been her signature drink. I have a lot to learn from The Lady with the Lamp, but judging by the probability of recurrence, I’ve got some 6 years or so to work on it.