Over the holydays (Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (which some of you may know as "New Year's Day")) I was sick, I was so sick that I ended up in the ER with a spinal tap. The doctors said: "Yeah, you're sick; no, we don't know why." Then, as I was recovering, during Beki and Sofiya's visit, I got the 24-hour stomach flu. Beki said to Howland on the phone that next day: "Yeah, he [that's me] looks better: it's as if only 11 trucks ran over him, not 12."
But this story isn't about me.
I've new work in Virginia Beach, so I've become a geographical bachelor in the southern part of Virginia. This is hard, because for the last 3 months, I've been a work-from-home Dad, and the kids have become quite used to my company in the office (they'd sneak into the office: "Papa, what are you doing? Will you play Viva Piñata?" [They only asked for this because Mike owns the PSP so I don't have LocoRoco available]), so we all trekked down here to get the hotel room and rental car (because I was needed on the contract "yesterday! I tell you, yesterday!", that, despite the fact that the contractor didn't have the paperwork squared away for me to get onto the base until a few days later, but I digress), and we had some fun in the (indoor, heated) pool (we played: "Who can splash the quietest?" That game didn't last too long.)
Well, Diane and the children were supposed to return Thursday morning, so Diane could attend her S.A.F.E. graduation class (which involved an all-out mélée, and videotaped, no less!), but fate, in the name of Isabel (or, more accurately, in the name of Isabel's stomach virus), intervened. Isabel became so sick with the stomach flu that she couldn't even keep down water. Then, a few days later, as she slowly recovered, she couldn't keep anything other than bananas and apple sauce (mothers world-wide know what this means). So, Diane missed her last S.A.F.E. class, but I needed to return to NoVA to work on some corporate taxes (and I even got one 1065 done! Dear me!). Elena Marie would not hear of being separated from me, so off she and I departed, all 150 miles, back to Springfield. Poor Isabel, without her Papa and her Até -- this hit her hard as we left her and her attentive mother.
Well, even though I warned Elena Marie that she would be motherless and that I would be working on the the taxes, the "No Mother" part hit her that night after bed-time. Everything was fine: I read her a story; she brushed her teeth, and she even got to sleep with her papa on the big bed. But then, in the middle of the night, she woke up in tears:
"Papa, I want Mama; take me to Mama!" she repeated through my sleepy objections.
Well, she blew her nose a few times and somehow managed to sleep. The next day, she was all about making plans to return to VA Beach, yes, 150 miles away, that day. She called Mama's cell phone and made secret rendez-vous plans with Isabel (which pleased her still sick little sister no end), but I learned that Diane was hoping to return that day. Diane's hope failed for that day, but it kept Elena Marie calm enough to enjoy an outing at Smith & Clarkson Deli (grilled cheese, of course, with french fries, of course) and then an evening at the "Blue Ladies" (we actually have one within 2 miles of our house ... "Blue Ladies" is the name Elena Marie gives A & J's restaurant, because the wait staff wears pinstriped shirts (white and blue) and blue jeans).
That night, after I read her a story, Elena Marie informed me that she might cry ("Yes, I know, you did last night") and that she might need to blow her nose ("Yes, I know, you did last night"), but neither happened, as she slept soundly through the night. That next morning, Sunday, Diane did return with Isabel, and the reunion was so joyful between the sisters that it was taken matter-of-factly (it may have helped that they met at a baptism with several of their cousins).
So, off I returned to VA Beach (under the distraction of the baptism party: Isabel only moaned once: "But I don't want you to go, Papa!" before returning to play with her cousins), with my vitamins and ibuprofen, and back at the office where Diane informed me that she now had the flu, with a temperature, and that Elena Marie was in charge.
Ah, my girls, all taking sick turns, and all being missed by me, something fierce be-like.