Who plans for this stuff? Nobody.
Insidious germs, however, are a fact of life. Things that come upon us unaware, and strike when we least expect them.
I’m talking about the flu.
Two of our children with their kids are staying with us presently; the cousins are having a blast playing with each other.
A damper has descended on our joyful troop. One of the adults came down with the flu. Immediately got on medicine and stayed quarantined in his room.
Then Ward, not quite two, came down with it. Coughing, feverish, unwilling to eat. His medicine tastes like something you’d flush down a toilet, but the little guy managed to take it with a cookie held in his hand.
The germs were on a rampage. His sister got it.
Then I fell prey to the nasty bug.
I don’t get sick often–or at least I don’t cease activity with little under-the-weather issues I may have. This has thrown me for a loop.
Especially since everyone wants me out of sight. Keep my bug to myself.
I get it. I got the medicine immediately and have been taking it.
But the nasty medicine my grands have to take is another matter.
Ward might be coerced with a cookie, but Sloane has had the flue before. It’s a struggle to get her to take her medicine. She’s not as receptive to coaxing as her brother.
I don’t blame her. Given the opportunity to take the medicine or swallow a cockroach, I think she’d choose the bug.
What’s so miserable with any bout of contagion is the effect it has on those around. It’s a horrific ripple effect, where those who’ve tried to keep their distance are still ensnared by the illness. At the very least, the workload created by sickness increases everyone’s burden.
I hate the fact that I can’t be of more help right now. I’m isolated in my room, trying to keep my germs in containment, knowing that’s a ridiculous desire because I can’t live in total confinement. I need help from those who are healthy. I got this because I was helping those who didn’t feel well.
It’s a sad cycle of need and expectations and frustration when life doesn’t turn out as hoped.
Even without illness, I’m affected by the hurt and pain in the lives of others. Sadness and heartache are different contagions–they require compassion and presence that reminds people that what they experience matters. That who they are, no matter what their circumstances, is valued.
In our busy world, it’s easier and less messy to ignore the complications in the lives of others, give a sincere, “I’m sorry”, and move on. Keeping their own pain at bay lest it affects others.
The English poet John Donne once said, “No man is an island”. We weren’t created to live alone, not connected to others in heart and mind. God created us to enjoy community, to care for one another. Even if the mess of one life encroaches on mine. God has engaged us at our worst. And He gives us the power to come alongside those who hurt.
After all, humanity isn’t contagious. It’s our condition.
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