Human beings say, “It never rains but it pours.” This is not very apt, for it frequently does rain without pouring. The rabbits’ proverb is better expressed. They say, “One cloud feels lonely”…
—Richard Adams, Watership Down
The past few weeks have been a bit more intense than usual. It all started on Inauguration Day, in fact, though that’s pretty much just coincidence.
It all started with a cold. Carolyn stayed home with a terrible cough and a slight fever, which meant she got to watch the inauguration with us. A couple of days later, she was fine, and Rebecca was sick. Nothing unusual about that, of course: you have two kids, they pass germs along to each other.
In Rebecca’s case, though, it didn’t seem to get better. By the time, a few days later, she spent most of an afternoon sitting very still on my lap, whimpering softly, her skin burning with fever, Kat started to suspect a common but serious childhood illness. A trip to the doctor confirmed it. The child in the next examination room had the same illness and was unlucky: two inhaler treatments had little effect, and he was sent to the hospital. Rebecca fared much better: one treatment and she was much improved.
That was lucky for us all, because we had a long road trip ahead of us. The night before Rebecca’s doctor appointment, Kat’s mother died after a very long and difficult illness. We had known it was coming, thanks to the hospice nurses. We had known for a very long time that this is how it would one day end. Most of the mourning had been done ahead of time, to be honest, but at the same time it’s never easy to lose a loved one, no matter how much you may have prepared.
We needed to be on Long Island by Sunday night. Plane fare was far too expensive, even with the bereavement discount. So we packed up the nebulizer, treatments, and everything else we needed to drive eleven hours to our hotel. Pennsylvania, as anyone who’s made the drive will tell you, goes on forever. It’s an even longer forever when you have to make extra stops, as will happen with four people, two of them children.
A very good friend of ours watched the girls as we attended the graveside ceremony, and we spent the next couple of days with Kat’s family as they sat shiva. And then we drove back to sit our own.
I had to be in Boston the following week for client work, and while a great many awesome things happened on that trip, it was hard to leave so soon after everything else. In the middle of everything else, really. I left on the second day of our two-day shiva; the rabbi finished his prayers and remarks and five minutes later I was pulling out of our driveway to catch my flight. And of course the illnesses, traveling, and general upheaval in our lives had pretty well shattered both girls’ sleeping patterns, and I couldn’t be there to help.
The day after I got back, Kat finally went to the doctor to see about her sore thumb. It turned out to be broken. She’s wearing a brace now. Two days after that, I quite unexpectedly suffered an anaphylactic reaction to a food I’d had many times before. It was the whole works, too: sore stomach, tightness in the chest and throat, dizziness, itchy hands, and, so my wife tells me, a blue tinge around the lips. It was a new and wholly unwelcome experience, I assure you. We’re not completely sure of the ingredient that caused it, but there’s a very strong candidate: avocado. So no more guacamole for me, it would seem.
All that knocked me even more offline than usual, which is why further writings about HTML5, CSS3, and other topics of note have persisted in collectively playing the parts of Sir Not-Appearing-On-This-Site. I’m hoping that by getting all this off my chest, I’ll clear up some of the blockage and get things moving again.
So how about you—what’s the first month-or-so of 2009 been like for you? If it’s been similarly stressful, unload and lighten the burden. If it’s been good, tell us about it so we can all share a little bit of uplift. I know I could use a little!