Asthma has really put a crimp in my schedule this week. My little one’s minor cough morphed into an asthma event on Sunday and five days (and counting) of missed school. He vacillates between being a sad little muffin and a jumping bunny on steroids, because, well, he is on steroids.
My capacity to leave the house has been quite limited. Doctor visits, school obligations, and the grocery story have pretty much been my only “Get Out of Jail Free” cards since Monday morning. Life becomes a bit simpler when you don’t really leave the house much.
I learned how to bake sourdough bread (and, lordy, am I going to write the hell out of the metaphors of learning how to bake bread) and did a lot of laundry (lather, rinse, make bed, vomit, lather, rinse, repeat). My little one has been sleeping with me all week, the husband banished to the guest room, so I have been settling in by 8 or earlier every night. Everything has slowed down.
There is a liberation to that, the slowing down. Sometimes I feel like life is so busy and just a series of jumping from fire to fire, water buckets sloshing all the way. Other times I feel like a pinball in a machine, not in any kind of control over my trajectory, just bouncing off of the hard metal objects around me. DING! DING! DING!
But still, despite the benefits of slowing down, like, say, warm sourdough smeared with butter, I have occasionally felt a wee bit, well, cooped up. An energetic five year old can be a lot for this old broad to manage, but an energetic five year old on steroids who vomits when he can’t stop coughing is next level.
Twice I got out to the grocery store, which is not a lot for me, as I tend to shop for what we eat in the next day or two. I go to the store while the kids are at school because dragging kids through mundane errands tends to cue their outrage. It’s easier and more pleasant that way. But there was no dragging a coughing, vomiting boy into a grocery store. Nope. So, there was not a lot of grocery store happening.
But on Tuesday morning at sunrise and Thursday evening at sunset, both times my husband was at home to take over kid duty, I ran out to the market to pick up a few groceries and some sanity. And in those off hours, in those moments of the sun rising and setting, I looked up and saw two beautiful cloud filled skies. And both times I was struck enough to pull out my camera phone and try to capture the beauty above me.
I don’t know if I was successful, as it’s hard to capture the beauty of a gorgeous skyscape on a camera phone, but I captured it well enough that as I was driving home yesterday, with the sky already changed and growing darker, I remembered the sunrise a couple of days earlier in a different grocery story parking lot I had also tried to capture.
Seeing those two parking lot horizons reminded me of those days during my daughter’s cancer treatment when a solitary trip to the store felt like winning the lottery. The mundane is not a given. The ordinary is extraordinary when you are living through sorrow and fear.
Asthma is not like cancer. Thank goodness. My son’s illness, while tense and scary at times, is pretty well managed through medicine and care that we have access to when needed. Those are very good things and I feel lucky for them.
There was enough of a familiarity last night, the sunset behind me, the sense of liberation around me, that I remembered what cancer has taught me — nothing is promised, nothing is forever, nothing is certain. Grab what is good when you can. Notice those sunsets and sunrises. Look up. Eat the bread, with the butter. Take the picture. Try to capture what you can. Breathe it in, breathe it all in.