I have been up all night…vomiting.
I address vomit in my unpublished manuscript. Two to three chapters are dedicated to my contempt for the stomach bug, and I know I am supposed to save a lot of my material for the book, but oh well. The first publisher I met with asked me who my target audience was. I said, “Moms who hate the stomach bug.” They were not interested in my work. And that’s fine. I know it seems like there’s not a market for books categorized under “vomit-haters.”
But, now I can plead my case from my death bed, because we have been exposed.
Lockdown. Code red. Bravo-Alpha-Romeo-Foxtrot…barf.
My reaction to word of a stomach bug is something you might picture from a wartime movie. A soldier delivers the telegram to the family; there’s screaming, crying, gnashing of teeth. This is how I behaved when day care called me Monday with word that my son had thrown up. The poor woman on the other end tried to console me. I think the next time she calls she will make sure that I have someone with me before she delivers the news. There must be a more humane way of telling someone everything they hold dear, every last thread of organization and peace will be flushed down the toilet, or spewed onto clean sheets.
As I lie here now, my life is collapsing outside the threshold of my bedroom. My dear husband is a wonder. He can bring home the bacon, change diapers, feed humans—you name it, Justin’s got it. But it isn’t the same.
Men don’t see things that women see. The babies keep breaking into my room. They get in trouble, but they keep trying. I hear a teen say, “You can’t go back in there! Mom is dying!” I am too sick to get up and thump that teen in the head. Besides, maybe I am dying. Maybe they should be forewarned.
Laundry is piling up. Babies are crying. My head is pounding. Nausea is my companion.
And I blame you.
You know who you are, average-size family. One or two of you threw up all night, but you had places to be, people to see. You limped into the church potluck, looking less than lovely. Your skin was gray, sweat pooled above your brow, and your eyes glazed over. You put your festering macaroni salad down on the crisp white table cloth. Your kids brought in plates of warm slice-and-bake cookies (don’t pretend, I know you didn’t make them). When I asked if you were OK, you said, “Oh my gosh, my husband and the boys threw up all night! They were so sick! But, the girls were so excited about the potluck, and of course, I had to sing in the choir and teach Sunday school. Hopefully, we will get to rest this afternoon. I am feeling kind of queasy.”
My initial instinct was to beat you with the uneaten monkey bread.
If I were a confrontational person, I would punch you in the throat and drag you out by your hair.
But instead, I bolted.
You heard me. I grabbed my children, our jackets, to heck with the casserole I made. It had been contaminated. It was probably too late, but I had to try. I had to save my family. I whistled, giving my husband the signal that this is not a drill. His jaw tensed, he scanned the room, ignoring the conversation in which he’d been involved: Code Red. He didn’t bother to excuse himself, he scurried sideways, eyes darting about the gymnasium. He form-tackled a toddler and grabbed the diaper bag. Two of the teens recognized the war cry. They stopped, dropped, and crawled through the crowd on their bellies. They are well-trained. The clock was running, the spores of airborne pathogens were looking for a place to breed.
Dear God, not in our mucous membranes, please.
As our 12-passenger van screeched out of the church parking lot, I saw one of our children chasing after us. I yelled at my husband, “Just go, go, go!” We have other children. Survival of the fittest.
The spores won.
It was too late for us. Day four, I succumbed. From my death bed, I grapple with my love of the Lord and my negative feelings for you. So I will use the last of my energy to send out this plea:
You should never be out in public and say, “We’ve been up all night vomiting.”
You may text that. You may email that. You may say it over the phone. Send it by carrier pigeon if you must, but you needn’t utter it in person. Stay home. You are not needed that badly. The world will not stop without you. Dare I say, you’re not that great. Sunday school can be covered if you aren’t there.
You’ve successfully taken down my empire with your terrorist ways.
I will recover. I sip Imodium from a chilled champagne glass. The Phenergan suppository is finally starting to work. I will sleep now. Someday, I will let go of my hate for you and your unlawful contamination of my life. I will move on—there’s the time before the stomach bug, the time after, and until the next time. In the meantime, I will eventually climb out from under the laundry, I will wait patiently for the carpet steamers to arrive, and I will weep for the days lost.
And I will picture you, clinging to your porcelain God. I pray you see my reflection floating in the bowl with your half-digested Cheerios, encouraging your demise.
Next time, stay home. Stay home.