Not invincible; not even a little bit

The copy I hold now of “The Long Loneliness” by Catholic Worker movement co-founder Dorothy Day is a book for book lovers: smooth paper, slightly musty smell, and beautiful woodcuts. And Day is a subtly moving writer; a trained journalist, a powerful example of making a life of doing the next right thing and loving your neighbor. … Ah.

So as my second child begins her bout with stomach flu, I’ll be over here pretending otherwise until she wakes and needs me.

Stomach flu is terrible for a lot of reasons, but between the little emergencies, the quiet reading is nice, with a sleeping child on my lap. It’s a subtle reminder that I’m blessed to finally not have to call off work to take care of my children while they’re sick — I don’t have to check work email from home or log into my computer remotely to feign interest in anything but what my dryer is doing and whether crackers are staying in bellies.

After years as a working mom, that’s a blessing.

But flu is also a reminder that I’m human, I cannot do it all, or save my family from sickness. I can’t even protect myself; not really. But I can show some patience and humor and sympathy, and pray with them when they ask, and read to them. I can remember that carefully planned homeschool stuff can wait. And running will come back to me when health returns to our house, and we will see neighbors again, and grandparents and sunshine. {All these things, I say to myself in dark moments. And flu is dark.}

And I can read great books when they don’t need me. Lord, thank you for books.


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