Yesterday, I was going to go to the doctor for a general checkup. I have a busted blood vessel in my eye, which the optomotrist discovered during an eye exam. The blood leaking into my eye is not a cause for concern, in and of itself. The eye absorbs the blood back into my body, I am told, and it doesn’t do any damage to the eye itself. The cause of the leak, on the other hand, might be of concern. The doctor said that no one is really certain why this happens, but he suggested that I have a checkup, just to be on the safe side.
Well, that was the plan anyway – to see the doctor yesterday. That never happened because the night previous, Namine was sick. It was just after 2:00 in the morning. Jessica and I had just finished watching season four of Burn Notice (our current obsession), so we were about to head off to bed. Namine had been a little restless in bed, kind of boogery, but it hadn’t seemed like any big deal. We’ve all been a little boogery; it is winter, after all, and this kind of thing happens whether you’re a respiratory patient or not.
Well, it was about to become a big deal. A very big deal, indeed.
I went in to check on Namine before heading off to bed. She had sort of thrown her covers off and rolled around, as she usually does, and she sounded really congested. So I sat her up gently, with the intention of waking her up to drink some water. That usually helps her clear up some of the mucus drainage. Well, she started coughing. And coughing. And we knew: she was going to throw up. There wasn’t a garbage can in her room, so I picked her up and started for the kitchen.
Mid-run, she opened her mouth and projectile vomited me. In the face.
Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep. She spent the next 2-3 hours throwing up, and even when her stomach was empty, it kept on trying to remove things from itself. She finally fell asleep in Jessica’s arms, after which I put her back into her own bed. I slept on her floor next to her bed, in order to make sure that I was right there if she needed me.
And yesterday, far from being able to go to the doctor myself, we took Namine in to have the doctor tell us what we already knew – or at least suspected strongly – she has the stomach flu. No surprise there. We spent the rest of the day keeping her hydrated and slowly introducing her to food again.
After all of that, I want to talk about love and vomit. But Paul, I hear you say. What could love and vomit possibly have to do with each other? Well, hear me out.
There are different kinds of love. There is, of course, the kind that strikes a certain emotional chord. The kind that happens when I look at my daughter: her smile, so much like my wife’s, that stops my heart for a moment: that moment, frozen in time, when I know how blessed I am to have married the woman who was my girlfriend, and is my partner, companion, and best friend; when I know that they love me too, despite all my flaws and failures. When I look into my daughter’s eyes and see hints of my wife’s, true, but also the uniqueness and individuality that belongs to only one person, and I feel that I could never be a more fortunate man than what I am right now, in that moment.
But I feel that is also a fleeting love, a fickle love. It’s the kind of love that could fade, if I let it. You hear about it all the time: husbands and wives falling out of love with each other, for seemingly no reason at all. And so, to supplement it, to be a foundation for such a potentially fluctuating emotion, there is a deeper love, a love made not in the heart but in the mind: the love of deliberate commitment.
This, this is how I can be projectile vomited in the face and say, with perfect truth, that I do not mind. I would sacrifice anything for my wife and daughter: my first love, and my little love. Because I first choose to give myself as husband and father, I am able to remind myself of who I am and what I do. So what if I smell because my daughter got sick? What matters is that she needs me, and I will be there. Smelly, tired, sure. These things will pass; they always do. What will not pass is our love for each other, if we choose it. It is our choice; it is always our choice.