I woke up early the morning of my 29th birthday with some, let’s just say, bad symptoms. My initial thought, “Must be food poisoning.” My optimistic self still saw myself playing out the plans I had been looking forward to all year. I had all day to get over it.
As lunch rolled around, I came to terms with the fact that bed rest and a good attitude wasn’t going to stop the decline my body was insisting on having. I forced myself to get up and go to the doctor. Two hours later I was hearing, “Mr. Butler, you have the flu, type A and B, actually.”
I’ve had the flu before. It’s not ideal, for sure. But worse than the symptoms and the days you’re quarantined from society, I was about to miss my birthday. For the last fifteen years I’ve gone to eat hibachi to celebrate. I don’t think I’ve missed one year. Two brain-scraping swab flu tests later, the verdict was in. I wasn’t going.
When I got home I was still in the stage where you don’t feel like doing anything but burying your head in a pillow. Periodically, though, I would check my phone and various forms of social media as friends and family members sent well wishes and kind words.
I was reminded just how life-giving words of affirmation are to me. Everyone was essentially saying, “I’m really glad you were born, and this is why.” Even through a fever, an achey body, and a lot of disappointment, I couldn’t help but fill with gratitude.
I have grown to love words and writing. I cherish those spoken, typed, or written out just for me. So to all those who took time out of their day to make sure I knew you are glad I was born, thank you. Despite circumstances and missed parties, I was reminded why I matter to you, and that’s the greatest gift ever.
A few days later, I almost feel myself again, and I’m reminded that so many others don’t get to receive a health diagnosis that has a definite timeline for getting better. For many, the symptoms, the medicines, the doctor visits, never end.
In those long hours of staring at the ceiling, watching the light change as the day dragged on, wondering what my friends were doing instead, wishing I wasn’t making Lacie’s weekend so boring, I still had the assurance in the back of my mind that this was temporary.
Barring the unforeseen, many more occasions to celebrate will not be missed. Life will go back to normal tomorrow, and I’ll commit to getting the flu shot next year. I’ve learned my lesson these last two times.
But for those whose sick day turned into a season that turned into what seems like a never ending nightmare, my heart goes out to you. The flu for a week is nothing but a weak metaphor compared to the suffering so many endure day in and day out.
If that happens to be you, and the serendipitous nature of the internet and life led you to this post, then this is what I hope you hear...
I choose to hope in a day when all of this will be restored, where healing occurs, where true peace is a reality, where all that is wrong is made right, where suffering and fear are no more...
I can’t prove it, but I’m continuously compelled, drawn in, carried forward, sustained...The often quoted C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”