I think I have post-viral syndrome. Apparently this is a thing. A very annoying thing. As in, I become tired very easily, and when I push it, I become ill once more.
This morning — after cleaning the house, but really, given asthma I CAN’t go more than two weeks. Also bathroom and kitchen start smelling and I can’t take that — I woke up slightly feverish, and it was hard to get up. Which must be my excuse for this post being horribly late.
There is an advantage to being of a sickly disposition and having come near death several times by forty — no, bear with me — in that it clarifies the mind wonderfully as to what’s important and what isn’t.
You see, I’m of a dutiful disposition, or I try to be. I have this long list of duties — of things I must fulfill because they’re a contract with others — so for instance last night when I started feeling ill the only reason I told Dan was because dinner was going to be late. I cook, because I’m quicker and more adroit at it — which means I do it with cheaper materials — so my cooking dinner is part of our contract, just like part of his contract with me is to do accounting and taxes (infernally complex because of the writing) because I am digit dyslexic, which means even entering data results in snarls that are almost impossible to figure out.
When the children were little I had this long list of things I must do. Every morning, I’d lie in bed, making a list of everything I’d failed to do the day before, and what I must do that day, and every night I went to bed with half of them undone.
The problem was this: my list of things I absolutely needed to do was set to an insane standard. For instance while the kids were crawling, I not only cleaned the hard floors EVERY day, I also ran the carpet cleaner everyday. And wiped down every surface. And cooked on expert mode, and refinished all the furniture that came into the house. And made curtains and household soft-furnishings. Etc. Etc. etc, in addition to trying to look after the boys and write.
Then I got pneumonia 24 years and one month ago. And almost day. And eleven days in ICU clarified the mind immensely.
Do you know the things that bothered me? I was upset I’d leave my sons motherless. I was guilty upset and ashamed that the worlds in my head would die with me. And I missed days of just going nowhere in particular with Dan and the kids.
Because the kids were small and we didn’t often have babysitting, we tended to bundle the kids and take them along while doing errands. I missed those Saturdays of going to the grocery store, or the thrift store, or just running errands, with Dan and the boys.
And I realized I didn’t need to provide the kids extraordinary experiences. Oh, we’d still take them to zoos and museums. But we never felt a need for European vacations, or ladidah vacation camps or any of that.
That time, though I survived (and I want to point out I’m not nearly that ill. In fact, I think the virus is past, I’m just tired and a little frail) clarified what life was about for me (and since Dan agreed for our family.)
Most important of all was being there for my family. Just being there. Nothing special.
Secondarily, it was getting those worlds out of my head. Even if no one ever bought them, maybe some day the boys would find those manuscripts and fix them, and they’d be read. But at least they’d be out of my head, and have a chance.
I changed my life that way, and you know, the career could be better, but I really have no complaints. Oh, and there’s a ton more worlds to get out of my head, so we’re not done yet.
I realized this year, through my craptastic health the last two months, that what I really want to do is write, and spend time with Dan. Which means as soon as we can, the cleaning will be shrugged off. No, no one cleans to MY standards, but you know what? As long as it’s enough that the asthma is quiet, I’m fine.
Heck, some of my happiest times right now are when Dan and I are driving somewhere and have time to talk. Quiet walks through museums and the botanic gardens are also great.
Anyway. Illness sucks. but it clarifies your priorities wonderfully.
If you were very ill, if you knew your time was limited (it is of course, but for most of us not that limited) what would you keep of your busy schedule? What would you eliminate?