Today has been a bad day, the kind of day where I wish the US and New Zealand were just a bit closer to one another, geographically speaking.
We started on a downward slope right after midnight: Joe, awake, running a fever of 39.5C/103F. Paracetamol on board, stripped to shirt and nappy, lots of fluids, and back to bed within a little bit. Wondering what’s up with that.
Up in the morning, Joe’s fever was gone but he was still acting odd. It’s so hard to tell with little ones. Was it his usual morning mood of “get me out of the apartment, I’m bored, let’s go exploring” or was it “I’m not feeling well”? Packed our swim lesson gear and decided to make a last-minute decision as to whether or not to go. Last-minute decisions always go better if you’re prepared for multiple options.
Last-minute: OK, let’s go. Joe’s smiley and happy and not running a fever. Acting fussy, but no more than his usual morning miffishness.
We’re 3/4 of the way to swim lessons when Chris calls and asks where we are. I tell him, and he says, “Oh – OK. I was going to tell you something but it can wait. Just call me when you’re done with swim lessons.”
Me: “No, no, tell me now!” (I’m thinking it’s good news about his UK visa being processed)
Chris: “No, no, it’s nothing – just call me when you’re done.” He sounded upbeat and happy, which I later realized was him trying to make sure that I wouldn’t worry about what he was going to tell me.
Me: After teasing him a bit, trying to get it out of him, sighing and saying, “Alright!”
We do swim lessons and I hurry through getting Joe back into clothes and out the door. We’re just walking up Queen Street – one of, if not the, busiest streets in Auckland – when I get in touch with Chris.
Me: “Soooo, what’s up?” (thinking he’s going to tell me good news about his paperwork).
He asked me how swim lessons went, then said, “You’re grandmother died.”
Right then, I was really, really wishing that Chris and I were a bit more similar in terms of what we thought was the best way to deliver bad news. Telling someone that you have something to tell them, almost as though it’s a happy secret, and letting them go for over an hour thinking that they’re going to hear something good only to drop a bomb when they’re walking amidst a crowd full of people is not the way I prefer to hear that a loved one has died.
So, I was crying on Queen Street. Chris felt bad. I told him that I wasn’t mad at him, just sad and that I had been expecting to hear something nice, which made it even worse. It’s just one of those things, one of those differences between men and women. He apologized and we hung up. I kept crying off and on all the way up Queen Street and back to our apartment.
I was, and still am, missing my grandmother and grandfather and regretting the fact that we’re so far away. I had just sent them a photo book with pictures of us, and I know that they received it, but I was instantly sad about the fact that I hadn’t said, sent, or done more. And I was sad that I wasn’t going to be able to be there to say good-bye at the funeral. I was sad to reflect on the fact that the last time I had seen her in person was years ago. And I was sad for my grandfather, losing his wife and life partner. I’m just sad and remembering some of the advice that she’d given me over the years, advice about God, religion, life, family, and marriage. Her death was sudden, but apparently peaceful, and for that I’m grateful.
Another close family member on Chris’ side has had some health issues over the last 5 weeks. They’ve been scary enough that we’ve considering making a “quick” trip back to the US or possibly all 3 of us traveling to the States during Chris’ business trip and then extending our stay so that we could see family. Of course, now it’s looking like Chris may not be able to travel to the US at all because of UK visa issues. Sigh.
The rest of the day didn’t get much better. Joe spiked another fever about an hour after swim lessons. More paracetamol on board, more fluids, light clothing, cool washcloth, etc. He took a nap but awoke within 45 minutes. His fever was actually higher: 40C/104F. Too soon for more Panadol so again with nothing but a shirt and nappy, cool washcloth, lots of water… and his fever kept going up. Because of his history of bilateral ear infections and the fact that there was now thick, greenish-yellow ooze coming out of his nose and a rash popping up on his skin, I decided to take him to the doctor.
I forgot to mention that with Joe’s fussiness in the morning, heading for swim lessons, the bad news about my grandmother, and then his temp spiking again that I hadn’t eaten anything other than about 3 bites of watery oatmeal since yesterday. It was 4pm by the time I realized that, which was right when I got to the doctor’s office. I felt like I was going to pass out (sweating, lightheaded, weird vision…) but found a half-eaten cereal bar in Joe’s nappy bag which I gulped down in about 2 swallows. Joe was draped over me like a toddler-sized hot water bottle, oblivious to the fact that I was eating (a sure sign of him being ill if ever there was).
The doctor saw him, saw me, asked, “Which one’s the patient? You both look sick!” Yeah, one of those days.
Joe has a virus. One of his ears looks “suspicious” but isn’t full-blown otitis media. Nothing to be done but what I’m already doing. I was relieved to hear it, oddly enough. I’d rather it be “just a virus” then another bout of bilateral ear infections or meningitis or some other disease. So I was thankful for that, which probably sounds weird but is true nonetheless. Chris and I talked about the whole bad-news delivery thing (he told me that as soon as he’d said it, he thought it was a “stupid” way to tell me and that he didn’t know why he told me over the phone while I was in the middle of the street – I was right that he wanted to make sure I knew right away and that I was informed, and I did appreciate that).
So, yeah. Sometimes, living abroad and being so far from family is especially hard. Today was just one of those days.
Miss you, Gramma.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14