sick bed

by Amy Turn Sharp


In my memory it is always raining. Cool enough for a slicker but not cold really. It is overcast as we drive towards the next town to my pediatrician's office. We did all of our doctoring at the metropolis of Lancaster, Ohio that was about 20 minutes up the pike as my gran always said. I loved my doctor and have very good memories of him. He was a tall man and in my historical reinvented memory landscape he is German and his hair is so thick and his hands always cold. He was kind and his kindness came out of his mouth and out of his eyes and he was so good and he was a true doctor that cared and appointments were long and the waiting room was calm.

And when he retired when I was about 12 or 13 I hated the new doctor we moved to down the street. She was young and bossy and started to focus on my "weight issues" from her skinny perch of the doctor stool. She was a doctor who ran a holistic practice and all that meant is my mom told her shit about my terrible behavior as I got older and she refereed me to a shrink at some point and that was all kinds of not good. I made up elaborate lies and squinted a lot like I imagined Holden Caulfield would have done. She also put me on a diet in Jr. High. I carried little boxes of diet food to school and all my friends cheered when I started to look thinner.

I carry that with me still. Some of it is not good. Some of it is strangely comforting though. Like the memories of my mother and I going to the doctor when I was sick. We would leave the office and drive the two minutes to the local pharmacy where she would let me lie down in the back of the car and rest while she ran inside to fill the script. She would pick up some lunch for me to take home and make me a "sick bed" on the couch. I would drift in and out of sleep while the world went on all around me. I could hear her in the background and then later my father and the smells from the kitchen and all of the soft pillows felt so good.

We have been in and out of sickness here at our house the last few weeks. Even today I went to my family doctor and dealt with an ear infection that has been flirting with me for weeks. God I wanted a sick bed today. I craved that part of my past that is now so far gone. There is no one really to care for you when you are a grown up so I just took the last Percocet I was hoarding from my major surgery last year and put on Thomas the Tank Engine. I will rock this day somehow.

The good thing about this is that we can now care for others.  As adults and parents we have learned from the past or the sweet curve of trial and errror how people want to be treated. It is something I am really pretty good at anymore. I like making people feel good. I try and make my children comfortable when they feel terrible. I try and give comfort and make sick beds that rival the ones my mother made.  I try and find the softest blankets and the coolest sheets. There will always be ice pops in my freezer.

I put my head down on their pillows with them and tell them stories of the past. I tell them some day in the future there will be a little tiny memory of right now. This molecular second. I tell them it will encapsulate sounds and smells and the way I look frozen right now. Smiling with red lipstick and blonde hair that shines like a daydream. There will be sunshine or rain and music in the background bubbling up into their consciousness. They smile and frown and suck on their fingers and look at me.

And it blows my mind.