The twinge of fever hit mid-day, but it wasn’t until supper that I found myself unable to get warm. Banished to a guest room my first night into the underworld of the flu was a long and lonely one. However, as this is 2011, and our smart phones connect us through Facebook and Twitter and Email, my mother, a mere 1500 miles away, heard I was ill and called the following morning to get the story firsthand. As I was unable to talk, my mother quickly resorted to email, and shortly informed me a care package would be overnighted that very afternoon.
Well, I’m a grown woman, so what need might I have for a “care package”? What did my mother think I might possibly lack in my cupboards? I thought of my own similar response when I hear one of my now out of the house children falls ill. I usually gather a VT honey bear, some Sleepytime tea, citrus throat lozenges, topped with an inspirational card, and rush those comforts to them.
As I laid in my fever bed I worried all night long over my mother, who should be taking a peaceful walk along the Florida beach with her sisters, instead of schlepping about from store to store finding zinc tablets or Theraflu, something she’s assuming we can’t purchase in this northern outback. Then the cost of overnighting such a weighty box! Oh well, I thought, a mother always wants to send medicinal tea, right?
As guaranteed the package arrived before 3:00. Instead of the large box I had imagined, filled with products that promised cures from a variety of health foodies, came a small mailer with a small white box inside. In my delirium about all I could muster after opening it was, “She overnighted jewelry?” and my head fell back onto my pillow for another twenty-four hours.
My sweet spouse brought trays trying every possible recipe and remedy for me: the organic chicken in the freezer boiled for its valuable broth, last summer’s wild raspberry jam spread enticingly over the thinest slice of dry toast, even weak tea with honey. All the next day the jewelry box lay on my dresser, but occasionally I remembered and again questioned, costume jewelry in an overnighted care package?
The man made construct of time flips around in illness: one spends hours awake in the night and sleeps away the day. My illness meant I couldn’t read, couldn’t watch the news, couldn’t listen to the radio. As I was awake for many of those night time hours I made meager attempts to check email and experienced being on Facebook seemingly alone, when not even my night owl west coast son was logged on. My eyes just blearily focused on the screen as his singular name disappeared from my friends on chat list and then no one for a full 45 minutes, until a retired friend popped on in the pre-dawn, awake in anticipation of his ocean vantage lit up all magenta. I took the dangles out of their square white box and realized there was also a very sweet card, with a very sweet note advising honey-bell oranges and pink grapefruits were ordered and en route. I played with the sparkly earrings as the blue dawn began to fill the sky and then my room.
Eventually came the afternoon that I made it down the stairs, declared I was hungry and brought my little box down into the daylight with me. The amber crystals had caught my imagination. As I dipped my toast into that savory broth I thought, what do I have to wear with them, what outfit would be made anew with these splashy drops.
Care packages always come from moms. I expected a honey bear, perhaps some tea, instead mine sent jewelry. But as night returned to night and day to day and my fever broke once and for all, I finally realized, how terrific is that? Rather than dwelling on illness, my mother sent a reminder of living. Because, she knows, that what is so easily forgotten during those dark times, in illness or trouble, days when you just can’t remember your way, is the light and hope and faith in a finer day. Maybe even the sparkle and laughter of a glamorous gathering. She just may be on to something…