We were well into the second night of sickness in our home. The six-year-old and one-year-old lay sound asleep in their beds, cheeks flushed with fever. The three-year-old and five-year-old, on the other hand, had been taking turns getting sick to their stomachs on the hour.
The endless cycle of stirring to the sound of frantic footsteps running to the bathroom, hopping out of bed, and tripping over the stuff by my bed to meet the little body bent over in misery, the back rubbing, the tucking back in bed, and tripping one last time over my stuff before flopping down on my side was truly exhausting. I suspected that I, too, was getting sick but hadn’t really had the time to be certain.
Grand comparisons of me and Fr. Damien flitted through my mind. I recalled that Fr. Damien eventually succumbed to the leprosy of his people, and I wondered if my ailments were the beginning of my being whisked away to my eternal reward. A few hours of rounds of meeting little people in the bathroom later revealed that I was not at death’s door.
As 4 a.m. rolled around, I tripped back to my side of the bed and pulled up the covers for what seemed like the hundredth time that night. I hoped some sweet sleep could take the edge off of what was turning out to be a crushingly difficult night.
Sleep came but it was hardly sweet. I dreamt that I was at a strange office party in a school with my husband and parents. I thought my teeth felt funny, so I went to the bathroom to check on them. And that’s when they all fell out, one by one.
I heard a little voice at my side and I woke, sweating. It was 5:30 a.m and the three-year-old was at my side, still gray and wanting to get into bed with me. I exhaled, grateful that my teeth were all still in place but deeply disappointed in how unrestful my sleep had been. Hoping that letting my three-year-old crawl into bed with me would buy me another half-hour of sleep, I pulled her up. As I did she let out a cry and got sick in my hands and then all over my husband.
I tripped yet again over the things by my bed and the three of us headed to the bathroom to clean up.
I looked in the mirror at my haggard face and knew that I should’ve known better by now not to underestimate Lent. I shouldn’t have been surprised that the night was far harder than I ever could’ve imagined upon going to bed the night before. But I suppose it gives me the daring to hope that Easter will also far outpace my expectations.
“For he wounds, but he binds up,” Job 5:18