Michelle Martin

Patience for patients

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

It sounds like a litany of excuses.

First, Teresa missed school and activities like swimming because she had strep. It was going around school, and it’s treated easily enough with a course of antibiotics, even if it’s no fun.

Then her grandmother died, which took her away from things in the days surrounding the death and the funeral.

Then, just as things were getting back to normal and we were approaching the holiday, she started sniffling. Two hours later, she was congested and had a headache, and the next day her fever topped 102 degrees. A test the next morning confirmed she had influenza.

So did many of her classmates, judging by the principal’s email begging parents to keep kids home when they were showing signs of illness.

I’ve lost track of the number of emails I’ve written to the school, to individual teachers, to her swim coaches over the month of November, all starting with some variation on “Teresa won’t be there today because …”

Meanwhile, she’s bored and misses her friends, and knows how hard playing catch-up can be. Did I mention that her grandmother’s funeral was the week before the end of the trimester, meaning she didn’t leave much time to get all the work done?

But there’s nothing really to be done but wait. We did what we could to avoid flu; yes, she had a flu shot and a COVID booster this fall. We got her into the doctor as soon as we could both times she got sick, and started antibiotics and antivirals as appropriate as soon as possible.

After that, it’s just treating symptoms and waiting to get better. Rest, fluids, popsicles and honey for sore throats, more rest, more fluids. And the assurance that, given her healthy constitution and modern medicine, sooner or later she would be better.

Now that we’ve passed Thanksgiving at home, immediate family only so as not to get anyone else sick, we’re looking forward to Christmas. I hope that by then, all of us will be well, and no one will have contracted anything else, and we can celebrate the Nativity of the Lord with our loved ones.

But it’s not something we can necessarily choose. We can do our best, and hope for the best, and then take what comes with the best grace we can find within ourselves. And, I suppose, we can also pray for an increase in the ability to not just tolerate but appreciate when things don’t go the way we expect.

In a way, that’s the story of Advent and Christmas. Our Advent is not about preparing for our usual celebration of Christmas, not buying gifts or decorating a tree or planning a holiday meal where everything arrives at the table right on schedule.

It’s about preparing for the coming of Christ by remembering his first coming, when he arrived not as a king at the head of an army but as baby, vulnerable and dependent on those around him.

The message seems to be to exercise patience, and expect the unexpected.



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