The Cold from H(eaven)

Someone I loved once gave me a
box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.

~Mary Oliver

I wake this morning feeling fantastic, compared to the past 7 days, but absolutely lousy by any other measure.

Like manna from the heavens, this is The Cold that keeps on giving. I’ve heard about its tenacity for months on Facebook, but only now has it blessed me.

The beginning of this journey brought fever–and poetry–the thirst for more words than “sore” to describe a throat: crushed-glass; barbed-wire; broken-sticks; skinned-knee.

It also delivered sparkling clarity–about what I was and was not going to do.  I was not going to work. There was no need for deliberation. It didn’t matter that the annual conference was just around the corner.

Instead of fretting, I slept.

I slept dozens of hours each night and more into each day, like I never had before.

…And then, came a sweet reprieve–which I mistook for recovery–and headed back into the office and out to my son’s elementary school performance.

The cough came on covertly. I was in a meeting on day 4, and seemed to swallow my tea down the wrong pipe. I quickly ran out of the office, and spent 10 minutes gasping for air in the bathroom.  The cough remained silent for rest of that day. Until I crawled into bed.

For three nights, I barely slept from coughing. At the end of each day, despite my exhaustion, I dreaded going to bed because of it. I worked, briefly, each afternoon, and spent my mornings recuperating.

By the weekend, the tickling cough turned nasty–with a sound that would make a smoker wince. Some nights it would let me rest, but then I’d wake even more toxic.

For days I had no appetite, and then on day 7, as if the sun appeared after a long storm, my stomach growled.

This must be the beginning of the end, I thought, but then I examined the facts.  My oldest was 5 days ahead of me, and he was still coughing, while the latest sounds coming out of my own chest would frighten small animals and children.

This is truly a cold from Hell, I thought, but I’m assigning it Heaven. Though it appears it will consume weeks of my life (my youngest has only just begun sniffling), it has bestowed a deep presence to what is, and letting go of what is not; rivaling any meditation practice.

When I arrived for my yoga teacher training weekend, I had to listen to my body–more closely than ever–to know when to participate, and when to lie down–even in the middle of instruction. I had to trust my body when it said rest, and then trust it again when it said yes… to Sun Salutations.

In this crash course in trust, I didn’t rush to the clinic, or to a thermometer, but instead, decided to practice “self-referencing.”  I know this exercise of attention will serve me well, long after this Cold from Heaven has left our home.

Kelly Salasin, April 16, 2012

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