I went to bed early (for me) on Monday night. I had an early morning meeting the next day followed by an evening event. I knew that a long day was ahead of me, and I was patting myself on the back for trying my best to be rested. I had left my phone on, as I had promised Emily, because she was working a rare overnight shift. By 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, she was texting me. “Mom, something is really wrong. I’m feeling so sick.”
We sent texts back and forth for several minutes, but I quickly became so concerned that I dialed her number. I never call her while she’s at work. She answered, but she told me that she was laying on the floor and couldn’t move. Something was wrong with her back, and she felt nauseous. This was her second overnight shift supervising two guys who were doing inventory. She was helping by handing things up to them as they stood on tall ladders. She had been at work on this second night for about three hours when she suddenly couldn’t move. She didn’t want to leave, because that meant that they had to go home, too, and nothing would get done that night.
I insisted that she come home, and I asked her if she could drive. “No way,” she said.
Once Emily was home, she was sick, vomiting all night. I watched the clock. Hour after hour went by. I eventually slept for about two hours before I had to get ready for work. When I woke up, she was still on the bathroom floor. Thankfully, she was sleeping. I helped her to bed, and headed to work. For the next two days, she stayed in bed with back pain so bad she could hardly move. I drove home at lunchtime. I came home at the end of the day and headed out to an event on Tuesday night. The entire scenario was repeated again on Wednesday when I had to attend yet another dinner.
Last night, I arrived home after 10:00 p.m., and I had a board meeting this morning at 8:00. I walked past a growing mountain in the laundry room when I left this morning after I called Lola’s school to let them know that she wouldn’t be attending today. As I had sat at a fundraising dinner last night, Lola sent me a text, “Mom, I think I’m getting sick.”
This morning, T came into the bedroom at 6:00 a.m., and said, “I forgot to put the coffee pot in the coffeemaker.” Ten cups of coffee had gone all over the counter, in the drawers, in the lazy Susan, on the floor, and under the fridge. I’m not proud of my snarky comment, “Too bad this is what it takes to get you to mop the floor for the first time since you moved here.”
I drove to work this morning in a mental fog. I flipped through songs on my iPod. I didn’t like ANY of them. I turned on talk radio. I didn’t care about anything they were saying. I turned it all off and looked out my window. Everything I saw was ugly. I hate this place. I hate the city. There were no cornfields like I had driven past back home. There was nothing to ease the turmoil in my mind, heart, and head. I drove faster and more aggressively. To be honest, there are I times when I really enjoy the traffic, the need to maneuver into the fastest lane over and over again. I love my car, and I love to push drive fast. I just drove, weaving in and out of lanes. No thinking. No music. No talking. Fuck it. Everything was going wrong. I could anonymously take out my aggression on my fellow commuters. I could, but I didn’t.
I took a right turn and made a detour through a forest preserve. The detour added about ten minutes to my morning commute, but that detour cleared my head. For about a half mile, I didn’t see buildings, or traffic, or dirty gray snow, or trash. I could feel my muscles begin to relax. A light fog hung among the bare trees. The ugliness of the city was masked for a moment behind a facade of nature. By 8:00 a.m., I was surrounded by the low, vibrating hum of large egos around the boardroom table, but I felt like I carried a sweet secret inside of me. I had been refreshed by the beauty of nature.
I drove home at lunchtime to check on my dear, sick daughters. They sat with me at the kitchen table while I griped about the horribleness of this week. Emily, for the first time since Monday, was out of her bed, moving slowly, but on the mend. Lola was sniffling and droopy, but cheerful. We smiled, and I hugged them both.
The hassles of life never cease just as the beauty in life never ceases. The good and the bad are sometimes closely wrapped up together, all in one day or even in one hour. Turn the corner. Turn the corner. That is the lesson I learned today. Turn the corner. See what waits around the next corner.