I’ve been thinking a lot this weekend about my kids, my life, how we ended up here. I spent the last week in a haze of cold and flu medications, sleep deprivation (because I kept waking up coughing) and worry about whether the kids are OK. It’s not something I’d actually thought too much about until just this weekend, I’ve been more concerned with getting through each day.
But now I sit here feeling the itchy, heavy feeling in my lungs as the bug I caught starts to go into my chest and I worry about the balance of things. I worry about keeping my job, even though they have given me no cause to worry, but I keep it forefront of my mind, both for what happened at my last gig and for the fact that so much rides on my keeping these kids safe and feeling secure. I should probably have called in sick on Friday, the heavy feeling in my chest so strong I wanted to reach into my throat and start scratching the inside of my chest. (If you’ve never had bronchitis, pneumonia or other chest infections, you have no idea how irritating the feeling is)
I also wanted to spend my normal weekend routine of staying up very late and getting caught up on laundry, meals, all of it. But instead, I realized I needed to think twice about how I was treating myself. I normally would do anything – and I do mean anything for those four kids – to make sure we are OK. But a line from a former News Director slipped into my head. I had caught pneumonia early in my first year in Sacramento and wouldn’t go home, I had a story running.
“I have to make sure this gets on the air,” I said.
“And it’s getting edited now. It will air, but you’re no good to me if you’re dead, Dave, go rest up and get better. I know you’re sick, you’re not trying to get out of work!”
It’s that last line – you’re no good to me dead – that slipped into my brain tonight. I never think about myself in those terms. I’m not looking for praise or some medal or trying to be a martyr here, I’m trying to make sure the kids are OK. But that line sunk into the recesses of my thoughts and I realized a few things. First, if I’m gone, that’s it. My kids suffer worse than they did last year. That’s not fair to them it’s actually horrible. I shouldn’t put myself at risk for things that can easily be accomplished another day or caught up. It’s not procrastination it’s smart thinking. If I’m out of commission they’re sailing without a captain. There’s no outline to the story and they have to fend for themselves. That’s not just scary it’s unfair.
So Friday night, Saturday, even tonight I went to bed, leaving that last bit of laundry, a few dishes in the sink, all there in an effort to make sure that I get healthy. I still need to go to work, but I can balance that without calling in sick. When I thought I had the flu I had Abbi drive me to the doctor and got the prescription for the anti-viral. I did all kinds of things I wouldn’t have normally done a year ago.
Because I don’t have a fall back anymore. I don’t have Andrea to wake up in the morning and take care of the kids. There’s nobody to make dinner or clean the sheets or clean up the vomit or take their temperature, none of that. It’s a wake up call that our goal of getting healthier needs to hit faster than I thought because if I’m in better shape my body is as well and the kids are able to count on me to do more, to act faster and be what they need. Both parents.
The other thing I need to think about is what happens to them if, God help me, something DOES happen to me? Who takes care of them? Where do they go? Before you say I have plenty of time to think about that, look at what I went through just 10 months ago: I lost my wife, they their mother. That wasn’t in the cards, not part of the plan. Yet here we are still making adjustments. I have a lot of thinking to do, something I can’t seem to turn my brain away from.
Still, at least now I’m thinking, even if they’re just my second thoughts.