Influenza at 3.74

8 Jan

She comes running from her room to see me, her cheeks ruddy with sick, eyes heavy and dark lidded.

“Mummy, it huwts. My tummy.”

Her tiny hand rests on her belly, almost like mine did, years past, cradling the heaviness of her head in the last months of utter safety. I remember her there, taut, like a spring, ready yet patient.


She looks up at me, the sleep tattooed to her lips. I know this feeling-the drawn pain in your bones, the disconcerting ache in the pit of your stomach, the helplessness of a body that’s decided last night’s ham and swiss isn’t your friend.

I remember, and know, but for her, for her 3, almost 4 body, it’s new, raw, and she’s terrified by the force inside.

She sits with me, her warm ball of muscle and obstinate will leaning into me, merged with me, silk from the top of her hair fluttering in my nose as I brush my lips, minute to minute, against her forehead.

Hummingbirds. I want the hear the Hummingbuwrds.” The Boston Burr on her tongue still hasn’t left, and it flicks my heart each time.

She helps, placing the CD gently inside, waiting for the sounds she’s grown to love. She presses back against me, heating my skin, causing my own jellied insides to stir.

We sit inside this moment, perfect, like crystal figures. Her sister understands this flu, the need to clamber among me that Rosalyn has today.

Later, I’ll let her sit up with me, watching Firefly. I’ll watch her methodically stack the videos, moving them off the floor, nothing like the daughter who the night before, coughed and let loose the dogs of her stomach, all over me, my bed, the blankets. The daughter who stood up panic stricken, crying “change my sheets!” until I reminded her that they were my sheets, and it was perfectly, utterly, all right.

Later I’ll be happy for the battle of hugs and kisses at bed time, because it means she’s better, and my heart can let go of that autolurch it does, the kick of worry that even a simple case of the flu can bring. That constant fear, that something, anything might take her away from me.

Her cheek is smooth against mine when I give her that last buggie-rug and hug on her lip, cooling now, not so fired, clay cooled. I hold her hand in mine for a moment, marvel at how they’re just like mine.

11 Responses to “Influenza at 3.74”

  1. bromac January 8, 2009 at 1:09 pm #

    Oh man, I have a love/hate relationship with illness in my children. The clingyness, helplessness, and neediness, all long gone, return. It is beautiful and nostalgic and I cherish every moment. On the other hand, it breaks my heart to see my baby in pain.

    Beautiful post. I hope she gets well soon

  2. The Aitch January 8, 2009 at 2:19 pm #


    Poor baby. Hope she is better very very soon!

  3. Eden January 8, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    Poor thing. And I felt bad about our stuffy noses 😉

    Hope no one else catches it.

  4. Hannah January 8, 2009 at 8:39 pm #

    It’s hard to believe but you almost make having a three year old with the flu sound… nice…

    I only say that because mine has been bouncing around all day like a blue-assed fly, will not sit still, and delayed the baby’s bedtime by an hour because he couldn’t keep quiet for five minutes.

    It’s so hard when the wee ones are sick. Hope she feels better soon.

  5. Nicki January 8, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

    Awwww, poor thing. I hope she’s feeling better!

  6. thordora January 8, 2009 at 9:09 pm #

    Hannah, it IS nice because the usual evilness that is part of her personality in the evening is gone-she’s too tired and sick to be rotten.

    Hell, 30 minutes ago, despite me letting her sit with me, eat freezies and listen to the songs she liked on grooveshark, she said “I wanna go to bed now Mummy.”-a sharp contrast to the other night where she, well, we know how THAT ended.

    You know my girls. The only time they sit the hell down is when they’re sick.

    I do however get rid of Viv for the night tomorrow!! First sleepover for the WIN!

  7. Bon January 8, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    poor little. and yet, yep, they’re sweet when they’re sick…slows them down.

    i hope all the gawkers who came by the other day happen back to read this.

  8. thordora January 8, 2009 at 9:31 pm #

    oh they won’t. They all left when I closed comments on the other posts.

  9. Courtney January 9, 2009 at 2:15 am #

    Oh, sweet baby. Mine is only 4 months and is having her first cold coming on and man, I don’t know if I can bear my kid being sick! It’s so hard!

  10. mimbles January 11, 2009 at 3:17 am #

    Hi thordora, I’m here via Lindsay’s post on and I’m here to stay. I’ve had a quick wander around and I love what I see. This post made me smile, your love for your daughter comes through loud and clear in your writing and you’re a better woman than I – I’ve never been able to call it “perfectly, utterly, all right” when one of my kids throws up in my bed (yes, been there, done that).

    I’m looking forward to reading more 🙂

  11. thordora January 11, 2009 at 9:46 am #

    After getting it all over ME, the rest was just gravy.

    ok, that sounded gross.

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