I limped down the hallway toward my classroom, my arms laden with bags, the keys around my neck jangling and reverberating off the walls with every painful step. I opened the door to my room, dropped my bags on the floor, and collapsed into the chair behind my desk.
A few moments earlier, I pulled into the parking lot and quickly realized it was full. I drove past my regular spot and kept driving and driving until I found a free space. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the walk from the farthest reaches of the parking lot to the front door. But today? Well, I looked at the clock in my car and sighed. I was so late which explained the full parking lot. And the full parking lot? Well, that was going to make me even later. I grimaced as I hopped down from my van and pain shot through my foot and up my leg.
A few moments earlier, I said goodbye to Austin and Lexi and paused by the front door, debating if I’d be a horrible mother if I left, or if I’d be horrible employee if I didn’t. Even though I’d told them a dozen times, I reminded them once more, “Call or text me if you need anything. I’ll leave work right away.” Then, for the thirtieth time, “Are you sure you guys feel okay?” After being reassured one last time, I reluctantly closed the door, made my way out to my car, and began my commute to work.
A few moments earlier, I pulled up in front of the high school as Austin came walking out to my car. “Are you okay?” I asked as soon as he opened the door.
“Yeah, I feel fine now. I know why it happened,” he explained. “We were watching a movie in anatomy and they were doing surgery and pulling this guy’s nerves out and attaching them to wires.”
“So, basically, a future in medicine is out of the question,” I joked. “Are you sure you’re okay? You haven’t eaten anything today, have you?”
“You look all right now,” I assured him.
A few moments earlier, I woke up Lexi who was asleep in my bed, a washcloth draped across her forehead. “How are you feeling now? Is your headache gone?”
“My head is a little better,” she murmured, “but my stomach still hurts. I don’t feel good.”
“I need to go pick up Austin from school, honey. Are you okay just lying here for a few minutes while I get him?”
Lexi said she was fine as she closed her eyes and rolled over in my bed.
A few moments earlier, the phone rang. “Hello?” I answered.
“Hi, Ms. Meehan? This is the high school. Your son, Austin, passed out in class, fell out of his desk, and hit his head on the floor.”
“Oh my gosh, is he okay?” I asked. The person on the other end of the line informed me that I really needed to pick him up because “he looks okay now, but students don’t usually pass out in school.”
How lucky that I was still home. If today had been a normal day, I’d have been at work a long time ago.
A few moments earlier, I heard someone run to the bathroom upstairs. I hobbled up the stairs and found Lexi hunched over the toilet, throwing up yet again. “Poor baby. Your head still hurts,” I sympathetically stated the obvious. “Go lie back down and try to get some sleep,” I encouraged.
A few moments earlier, I realized Brooklyn had left her picture order envelope sitting on the table. Today was school picture day so I grabbed the envelope and headed to the grade school to drop it off. When I got there, there was one parking space left. I had to parallel park between two other cars. After ten minutes of trying to wedge my giant van into the space, I gave up, parked like a drunken money, and limped my way into the school.
A few moments earlier, I stood, stooped over, clutching the kitchen sink for support as pain shot through my foot, up my leg, and radiated through my entire body. Why is the pain so bad when you hurt your toe? I looked at the jar of spaghetti sauce that had come to rest next to the island. I rejoiced that my toe had broken its fall and kept it from shattering all over the kitchen. Then I wondered what was wrong with me for being happy that I’d broken my toe. Surely, it would be preferable to clean spaghetti sauce out of every nook and cranny for the next five years.
A few moments earlier, I resigned myself to missing first period at least. I figured I might as well get dinner going since I couldn’t leave for work yet. I pulled out the package of chicken that had been thawing in my fridge. It left a puddle of chicken goo in its wake. The refrigerator shelf was covered in grossness. I started pulling out the shelf so I could thoroughly wash it. Almost in slow motion, I saw a jar of spaghetti sauce roll off the shelf and out the door.
A few moments earlier, I heard Lexi throwing up. Again. I briefly comforted her, got her back to bed, and drove Clay and Brooklyn to school. I rushed home, knowing Lexi wasn’t going to wake up and be fine in a few minutes. We were too late getting her medicine and I knew she was going to vomit and have headache pain for several more hours.
A few moments earlier, as I slapped some makeup on my face, Lexi ran past me to my bathroom and threw up. Ugh, I thought. This isn’t a good sign. I grabbed my phone and texted the secretary at school, letting her know there was a possibility I’d miss my first period class.
A few moments earlier, I was awoken from a sound sleep by the sound of sobbing. I shook my head to clear the fog and realized that Lexi was standing next to my bed, crying that her head hurt. I turned toward my nightstand and tried to make my eyes focus. I made out the numbers on my clock – 5:15. Oh no, I thought. Not another headache! I hopped out of bed and reached for the Motrin. After giving Lexi a dose, I urged her to lie back down and get some more sleep. I stumbled back to bed myself, but couldn’t fall asleep because my stomach was in a knot, afraid that I’d have to go into work late. Again.
Which brings us up to speed. My toe has turned a variety of fun colors and walking is really difficult. Austin is doing just fine; he just can’t watch surgery videos on an empty stomach. Lexi’s headache finally went away after another bout of vomiting and another dose of medicine. And I haven’t been fired. Yet.