The Big One is home sick today, and it is just he and I alone in the house with the dog. Well, the cat is roaming around somewhere, but the feline is more like a grumpy roommate than a member of the family.
Last night I rubbed the Big One's back as he threw up over and over for nearly an hour, but he was so good natured and sweet about it -- Look, Mama! Bell Peppers! -- not like how I am when I am sick at all. When I throw up I beg for someone to kill me and sometimes cry and feel betrayed by my body and everyone I have ever known.
After we dropped Tiny at school I brought my work into the living room and the sick boy and I are watching old movies on the couch. I made him hot chocolate and we both ate hard boiled eggs and talked about other times when he was a lot sicker than he is now. He likes talking about throwing up.
Of course, there is gratitude there that he is now eight, and old enough to play chess on his computer and watch movies I actually like. When he was a toddler he would run around like a crazy monkey sick or not. Illness only made him cranky, not tired.
It has the familiar almost-forgotten feel of his baby days, when he was an only child, and, though I was married, it was just the two of us for long hours at a time. It's the alternate reality of having only one child. Everyone who has more than one baby always says that they could never imagine life without the second or third, and while this is true, on sick days there is a glimpse of what it might have been like.
Today also echoes back to my own sick days, when my mother made me a bed on the couch and brought me toast without butter. I have forgotten the discomfort of being ill, but the tender sweetness of being alone with my mother remains.
I'll be glad when he is better. It breaks my heart to hear him cough like his lungs are turning themselves inside out, and there is a birthday party on Saturday for his brother I hope he is well for. But there is poetry in this day, too, and I'm going to savor it just a little.