Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Practice at Being the Non-Anxious Presence

Last night we had the boy, our 7-year-old, sleep on an air mattress in our room, in order to put up our guest in the Sports-themed bed-and-breakfast room. :) 'Round about midnight, just a bit after I'd drifted off into that lovely first stage of sleep, E flopped a bit angerily out of bed and picked his way carefully to the door (for ours was the one room where we could keep the door closed away from our guest), creaking and squeeking the doorknob as he exited. A bit later, we heard him fruitlessly blowing his nose, again and again.

About a half-hour later, the same scene repeated itself. And again nearer to 1. By now, the poor kid was frustrated and exhausted. Ever since he was an infant, he never has gotten the concept of breathing through the mouth when necessary. He just refuses to do it!

I could tell his sinuses were just chock full, and no amount of snorting and blowing was going to budge a thing. I gave him a kid's sized dose of sudafed, just to get him through the rest of the night. Then I spent the next half hour reading him a few chapters of Treasure Island, until finally his eyelids drooped heavily, and he gave up the fight. (This afternoon, we spent a good bit of time looking up many of the words we encountered last might: jib, gaff, bowsprit, forecastle, foremast, spar, tack!)

After he'd fallen asleep I, of course, was wide awake. So I spent the next while reading A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester--an odd choice, to say the least, for bedtime reading. But that's me. When I finally drifted off myself, my dreams were peopled by swarthy pirates hanging on for dear life as the earth shook and quaked beneath them, more waves than the sea itself.

This afternoon my poor Ma arrived, frazzled and exhausted herself after her flight across the country. Her originating flight was delayed and she arrived quite late for her connecting flight in Chicago. She's not an experienced flyer. So this was all very anxiety-producing. She ran through the terminals to get to her connecting flight, even as she heard her name being announced in the airport for last call. She arrived at the plane just in the nick of time, but not being able to catch her breath, and feeling as though she may pass out.

When she arrived at her final destination, she called her hotel and discovered that they didn't have a shuttle. This is the Hilton, folks. So she called me and I immediately told her I'd come get her. I didn't want her having to deal with a taxi on top of everything else.

This was good. I was able to get her settled in her room, remind her to eat (!), and just kind of reassure her that although she is in a big, unfamiliar City, for a huge, unfamiliar conference, she isn't all alone. It was as much to comfort myself, I think, as it was for her.

I give thanks for these events. They kept me present to the moment. It is good to be needed. Especially by two of the people you love most in the world.


St. Casserole said...

I love reading Simon Winchester and want to get his new book.
Love this post!

JWD said...

Thanks, Saint! Yeah, I love Winchester, too. This is my third book of his. I find geology to be a very romantic science. The idea of all these plates moving beneath our feet--it fills me with such a sense of wonder. It's marvelous.