January 1, 2012

Armchair Reflections

I had been sitting there for hours. The sun, just rising, hit me square in the face with its obnoxious glare, emphasizing the dark circles under my eyes. I was a vision of loveliness to be sure. Dressed in sweatpants and one of my husband's t-shirts (because all of mine were still wet in the washer), bath towel draped over my lap, my hair was a mess and I smelled faintly of vomit.

The vomit wasn't even mine. It belonged to the tiny boy sleeping fitfully in my arms. My neck and shoulders were aching, but I was afraid to move and wake him.

We'd had quite a night. Older children got sick in buckets placed near their beds, but baby Joey vomited with abandon and without warning of any kind. He covered several of my shirts, his jammies, sheets, blanket, the floor... and that thing all the way over there across the room. Who knew sick could travel so far?

Of course, I didn't really care about all of that. My biggest concern was making sure my sick little baby was cared for and comforted. If that meant a sleepless night, smelling of vomit, holding his precious weight until my arms felt like they were going to fall off, then so be it.

I peered at the Christmas tree, dark and quiet in the corner. Paper chains still hung festively from the windows. Glittery snowflakes dangled from the light fixture over the dining table. Gold stars stood silent watch atop the piano. What had happened to the idyllic Christmas I envisioned? Everything had started out well; but let's face it, the disheveled woman sitting in her living room, holding her sick baby, wrapped in a towel, hardly looked Christmas card perfect.

I glanced at the Nativity scene, and through the fog of my sleep deprived brain flashed an image of the birth of Our Lord very different from the pretty, sanitized version displayed on my table. It occurred to me that the real Nativity probably didn't look Christmas card perfect either. If cameras existed back then we most likely would've photo-shopped the dickens out of any images taken in that stable. I'm sure St. Joseph did the very best he could, but I imagine the animals that sheltered there didn't stop being smelly animals just 'cause the Christ Child was born in their midst.

Life on earth is messy. Such was His love for us that he deigned enter the mess in order to lift us out of it. He was willing to become one of us, truly one of us. The Eternal stepped into time in order to bring us to eternity. The mess and the stink weren’t His doing, but ours. Nevertheless; He didn’t shrink from us, but became like us to bring us the healing we so desperately needed.

Joey and I stayed in that chair for a while longer. Neither of us smelled any better, but I was more at peace… except for that queasiness beginning to take hold of me. Oh dear. Maybe next year our Christmas will be a little more “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”, and a little less “Eww! Where’s the air freshener?”


jason matteson said...

I hope yins all feel better soon!

Anonymous said...

Oh Cena, what a beautiful post! The perfect combination of profound reflection, harsh reality and humor...What is it about he word 'vomit' that is so yuk? For you to be able to see past the yuk to the sublime makes me oh so proud that you are my daughter. I am at a different place in my life than you are right now but I love how you can put into words so well the life that has been mine for almost 40 years now. Even our stomach flu is different. When I heard Tim throwing up in the bathroom, Pop said, "Aren't you going in there?" I said, "And catch the flu? No, he'll be ok." My how things have changed from where you are now! I hope your day gets better. I love you.

Aimee said...

Oh yes, yes, to the whole thing. I am with you on this! We were all sick as well, and we just finished up a nice stomach bug to cap off the old year. I am mightily sick of being sick, but I think we're on the mend. Please God.

Happy New Year, my friend!