This is the 14th of my “Advent Calendar” Christmas ornament posts. For some background information about this project and why I’m challenging myself to complete it, see here. Note: it’s entirely possible some of these memories are inexact, but I’m sticking with them anyway.
|Festive plush Epstein-Barr Virus. Awwww.|
I caught mono during summer vacation. I never did have very good luck. I didn’t even get to catch it from kissing a boy, because I was a dorky, awkward nerd still years away from getting close enough to anyone’s lips to catch a communicable disease directly from the source.
Mono is not a fun disease to have. I was exhausted for weeks. I had no appetite. My poor mother would hover over me for any sign of hunger and then race to the kitchen to make me whatever I thought I might want. I remember her putting down a plate of scrambled eggs on the table for me with a hopeful look in her eyes, only to take it away after I ate two bites and declared I was too tired to eat. It’s just that the fork was so incredibly heavy. I spent most of my sick time on the couch. I wasn’t allowed to exert myself or do any sports – not that I could have found the energy anyway – because my doctor scared us to death by telling us I could rupture my spleen.
Before we knew I was going to get mono and throw my summer away, my dad’s boss offered our family the use of his summer cabin for a week. He owned a big piece of land – with a lake – up in the Laurentian mountains to the north of Montreal. Just so you know what we’re talking about here, the Laurentians are mountains only in the sense that they are not prairie or tundra. The Appalachians mock them openly and the Rockies won’t acknowledge them.
My parents decided I was recovered enough for us to make the trip, even though I was still weak and tired. It was a long car trip and I probably spent most of it asleep in my corner of the minivan, but I was awake as we arrived at the property. We turned onto a driveway, and kept driving for a mile or more before we saw the cabin, the lake, the dock. Never before had I been so far away from everything. When we closed the car doors and stood on the gravel drive, it was quiet. No cars. No voices. No airplanes. Just the birds and the breeze. I guess my parents thought the fresh air up there in the hills would help to revive my spirit, if not my body, and they were right. It was the closest to real mountains that I’d ever been, and it was glorious. Green as far as I could see, until the blue of the sky took over.
I spent some time outside during that week despite being sick, and not only because my parents forced me to. I sat on the dock to watch the water. I walked along the drive, trying to spot deer in between the trees. I didn’t see any. There were tiny toads, though, and lots of birds, and not nearly as many mosquitoes as you’d expect. My favorite part was evening, just as the sun set, when the quiet was replaced with a chorus of frogs and loons. That’s when Dad turned on the light by the couch, took The Two Towers out of the boxed set he’d brought, and continued the story for us. Listening, I could handle, even with mono.