It started with a tickle in my throat. Just a slight irritation that nagged me during the day on Saturday, so I sipped hot tea all evening and went to bed early. It morphed into a military boot crushing my trachea, making breathing labored and shallow. Painful needles used my throat as a pincushion while someone with an icepick stood inside my brain, trying to hack his way out through my frontal lobe. I staggered from bed to couch and cowered under a blanket, whimpering in submission to my torturer. I scrolled through Netflix until I found something to watch (translation—sleep through) as I suffered through the late morning and early afternoon in misery. I decided the melodious voices of Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant would sooth my spirit, if not my body, and snuggled down to watch Sense and Sensibility one more time. The escape into the love story of Elinor and Edward, along with Marianne and Colonel Brandon’s tale, allowed me to ignore my pounding headache. Scenery and costume calmed my mind and permitted a reprieve from the wretchedness of my viral invader. When the film came to the scene of Marianne’s illness, I felt her pain and suffering. And the happily-ever-after ending warmed me more than the hot tea I sipped.
While I lay supine upon the couch, my own love story played out like a full Austen manuscript. I heard David run my mother’s bath, help her bathe and dress for the day. He offered her several choices for her lunch, preparing her meal and helping her as she needed. He moved the painting that he’s working on into the kitchen to a spot where he could hear both of our requests for aid. I know somewhere in our wedding vows we wrote our version of “in sickness and in health,” but I don’t think either of us ever imagined this vow would include my mother. I may find myself evading life’s demands with Austen in hand (or on screen), but in reality I live within a magnificent romance.
Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman