Last week I was sick. Sick as a dog. So sick with an upper respiratory virus that I lost my voice, and for a couple of days, I didn’t really move much. Listless with fever and body aches, I felt so miserable I had to miss a few days of work.
Forget about getting this column written, spacey as I was! I couldn’t string enough words together to form a complete thought.
I was relieved my kids are now quite capable of fending for themselves (at 17 and 19, let’s hope so) when I’m down for the count, I realized that I couldn’t recall the last time I felt this poorly. I feel tremendous empathy for parents who succumb to illness more often, who may even be immune-suppressed, particularly parents of young children who need constant care and guidance.
What an eye-opener. This experience inspires me to take stock, to re-evaluate. What am I doing that isn’t working? How do I spend my time that may unnecessarily deplete me? How can I cut back and become more efficient? How can I ask for more help? Perhaps falling on my face (tripping over the Big Red Dog?) was a clue that I needed to slow down. Yeah, that’s a big one.
Our bodies are like that, aren’t they? They throw out clues, signals that we need rest, that we’re overdoing it. If we don’t heed the signals, the signals get bigger until we do. Until we stop. They demand that we do, or they stop us. And my body stopped me. I’m not exactly 100 percent yet, but I feel better.
And you know what? I realized that the world did not stop, the sky did not fall, and things did not fall apart because I stopped. In fact, some things improved, like my perspective. For example, later in the week, when the world warmed and began greening up and I needed a change of scenery from the couch, I sat on the porch with Jake and Posey while the kids were at school and watched our bunny. “Lupita Rose Ketchamar (Holly’s pet name for her),” the neighborhood bunny who apparently adopted us a few years ago and plants her babies in our raised strawberry patch each spring, captivated me.
I observed how slowly she moves, from weed to yummy weed and back again, to her post under the shrub by the garden gate. I watched as she flopped onto her side (I didn’t know bunnies did that!) and then napped, eyes mostly closed, apparently oblivious to me, and appreciated how safe she must feel in this simple shelter beside the sidewalk. This place with the goofy red dog and the sometimes boisterous kids, the resident squirrels and the occasional passers-by.
The pooches who stride by with their people usually inspire her to perk up and hop further into our yard for a bit just in case, but then she returns to her place, a slightly hollowed-out dip in the earth under the hedge. I noticed, too, when I looked more closely at our strawberry patch, that she’d already dug out her little bunny bunker (perhaps the babies are already here?), the opening facing the sun and her spot nearby in the hedge. I watched this bunny mom, watched how she does it. Glad for her company, glad for her example, glad for the reassurance of new life, and glad I was forced to slow down and take it all in.
Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.