Our two kids were home with fevers, and the youngest was completely inconsolable. We had electricians here working on the house and the power had to be shut off for the majority of the day. No heat, no Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, no microwave to heat up my little buddy's milk. My husband was at work all day and it was just me trying to keep everyone from completely falling apart. By the time he got home, my nerves were so frayed that I was afraid I was going to completely break down. I passed him the baby and took a break to go to Walgreens and pick up some germ-fighting necessities.
The evening got worse as it went on.
We had power back by late afternoon, but even "Mickey Haha" wasn't enough to soothe our feverish munchkin. His older sister was feeling a lot better than she had in the morning, so at least we were down to one patient to take care of. He was a sweaty, glassy-eyed zombie. He was so anxious about how he felt that he kept up a continuous whimper. Any parent knows what that sound can do to you after an extended period of time. Your body is in the heightened state of stress - it is almost worse when there were periods of calm because we were just waiting for the crying to start again.
It is an awful feeling to contend with.
When we finally laid him down in bed for the night, he fell into a restless sleep. Every 45 minutes he would wake up crying, and we would go up to find him just sitting on his bed with his blankie clutched in his little hand, reaching out in the dark and waiting for us to save him. We took turns rocking him back to sleep until my husband had to lay down himself to get rest before work in the morning.
After he had retired, I was left alone in our living room finishing up my TV show and shutting down the house for the night. I switched off the last light and sat down on the couch. The house was silent but for the dog's soft snores on the blanket next to me.
It was that moment that I finally found my breath.
I sat there, staring at the walls of this house we have lived in together for the past 5 years. I let myself feel everything that I was feeling without interrupting it with worries about what the next half hour would bring. I didn't revisit the trying hours we had throughout the day.
I allowed myself to have a minute.
When I stood up a short time later to put myself to bed, I felt more grounded than I have been in a long time. The feeling continued as I tucked myself in and laid there next to my sleeping husband. There I was with my head on my pillow, breathing deeply and taking in my surroundings. I took stock of everything I had in that instant. At that exact point in time, I had everything that I could hope for. My husband, my kids, my life.
I was alive, and I was safe, and everything was all right for this one, precious moment.
I kept breathing in and out and let the feeling of calm cover me like the most comfortable blanket. I was here. Here I was. Our family was whole. Our kids were okay. We were all together. Nothing terrible or terrifying was harrying us. I was aware of the fact that 5 seconds from then, our lives could become something else. The future is always a mystery. There is nothing you can do to stop it or change it or prepare for it. Life brings what it brings.
So I clung to my moment of serenity and I carefully filed it away.
I know that horrible things will happen some days. I know that there will be times when I will feel like I cannot go on, and I will be desperately trying to gulp a breath of air without finding relief. That is when I will pull out this memory. I will be able to alleviate that panic with the knowledge that peace exists. I have been there. I have held it tightly in my hands. It is not a fantasy, nor is it unattainable. It will come again.
And when it does, I will stock up on it.
Life is unpredictable. We are promised nothing. We only have what we have in this very second.
Allow yourself to be where you are. It is everything you have for now. It is all that is guaranteed.
This is your life. Not a goal you are working towards, or a problem in the middle of being fixed.
Breathe it in and live it right now.