“My throat is sore, Kevin”, I whined to him this morning. “I can’t go for a walk”.
His response, “Okay, then. Just rest.”
What a normal conversation. What a typical scenario. This morning, I did just that. I went back to bed. I pulled the covers over my ears and closed my eyes. It hit me as I was snuggled quietly in this very calm, very warm place; it was just a cold. And I was whining about having a cold. And it wasn’t even bad. I had a sore throat. And it was sore only on one side. Tragic. Right? Wrong. Just plain old sick. How delightful.
Of course, upon having this realization dawn on me, all I could do was think how differently this could have played out if I were still in chemo. With my head resting comfortably on my pillow, I let my mind wander to a year ago today. It was a year ago that my friend Wendy delivered to me a quilt – a brown-bag quilt. (The Brown Bag Quilt) That hand-made quilt was made from a collection of random pieces of fabric. Each piece represented a time and a person who was piecing together a quilt of her own. Some pieces were left-over and thrown into a brown bag. To me, the quilt represented so much. It was a covering which I could pull up over my ears to keep me warm during the long nights of restless legs and night-mares that would be forth-coming. It was also a reminder of the friendship that I shared with so many people from a place I had so dearly loved to work. It was a reminder that it would take so many friends wrapping their strength of friendship and their courage around me to sustain my faith in recovery. All stitched together, the pieces of fabric formed a comforting cocoon which I used to find comfort, friendship, and reassurance.
This day, a year ago, I did not whine to Kevin that I had a sore throat, or that my knees ached, or that I was afraid. I could not. I would not. An admission of illness would have set such a negative tone from which I would not have been able to recover. I didn’t want sympathy – I wanted to be cured. I hid my illness. I rejected it. I accepted the kindness of others eagerly. I was grateful to have not been forgotten.
Today, I whine. I can whine. A cold is just – well – so silly. It is almost like “playing” sick. I don’t mean to minimize any illness because ultimately it can lead to so much more. For me, though, this cold means I have something that is readily treatable by over-the-counter medication. I have something that is curable. I have something that almost every other person on this planet can relate to. I don’t fear a cold. I know how to treat it. I know what I need to do. I need to rest, eat soup, and gather my tissues around me. There are no life-threatening repercussions to chicken soup – as far as I can see. I can take a day off and not worry that I’ve regressed. Glory be. Chicken soup is my medicine because…. it’s just a cold.