Written by Emily
It’s mid morning, and I just stumbled out of the rubble. I’m still wearing a hazmat suit with Clorox, vinegar and Lysol wipes strapped to my back. I’ve got the carpet cleaner in my hand, and I look just as you imagine a woman who cleaned vomit all night long might look…radiant.
But I had some time to think down there in the trenches, knee deep in stomach bile. That much thinking isn’t always good for a mom in the wee hours of the morning. The virus. It changes you:
Your Senses Heighten
No matter how thorough the clean-up, no matter how harsh the chemicals, no matter how quick the execution, the smell remains…for eternity maybe…as a sick reminder of your inevitable fate.
Paranoia Sets In
Is it on me? Did it splash my face when it came rocketing out of my son with unparalleled speed and force? Did I step on it? Am I now tracking it through my house where it will cling to the healthy few and reek havoc on their insides? Your home will never look the same.
Suspicion Rears its Head
At 3:00 in the morning, everything looks like the culprit of the viral intruder’s descent on your first born. Rainbow Loom bracelets from a friend: infection bands. Christmas cards we tore into with enthusiasm: contagion cards. Clothes we tried on at the mall: the equivalent of small pox blankets.
Self-Preservation is a Priority
The child you so loved is now a mere victim to you. A goner. It’s done. It’s time to protect the rest of the family. How long should I quarantine my child? Hours? Days? Months? Nothing seems unreasonable anymore if it means preventing a two-year old whose projectile precision is shoddy at best from getting this dread illness.
The Walking Dead writers were just parents who muscled through a stomach virus. Rick Grimes and I? We’re comrades now. I get looking over your shoulder. I understand eyeing up the beads of sweat above a brow, a belch, a sneeze–Is that a symptom? Your loved ones are different now–they’re virus-laden victims who will no-doubt infect you in the end.
Since you’re already on your knees scrubbing regurge, you pray–even if you’ve never prayed, I imagine you do now. “If the rest of us stay well, I’ll be a better person. If we can be healthy from now on, I promise to be a better mom. If my husband can remain standing, I’ll give more to charity.”
And then you survive. You survive! But wait, did she just grab her stomach?