Sunday, January 31, 2010


The first thing we do when anyone is sick in our house is to find all of our towels. They are an absorbent, motley assortment that has been building over the years. Ripped, torn or stained, it makes no difference if you are under the weather. Towels can comfort and cover, swab and swaddle. Smaller than a blanket and sturdier than a handkerchief. towels are oh so necessary when one of your loved ones is running a fever or constantly running to the bathroom. They help mop the mess or cool the brow, whatever is needed. Driving past our house when the towels are drying on the line, those who pass by see a multihued collection blowing in the wind. What they don't see - but perhaps they inherently sense - is that the worst is finally over.

I've had a sore throat for three days. Ever since last April - when I had pneumonia and everyone else had the flu - any symptoms of sickness are accompanied by the anxiety that we are at the beginning of another month-long trial. So I gather the weapons at my disposal: vitamins, eye drops, prescriptions that work to keep us healthy. Much of the arsenal ends up on the kitchen windowsill, one of the few spots in the house from which things rarely go missing. Barely visible, another important tool lies in wait: the bottle opener. When the morning light hits my collection on a scratchy Sunday morning, it all feels a bit divine. I'm not one to pray (I'm undecided on the whole question of God) but I seem to have built a little shrine to modern medicine.

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