This winter, my family had particularly rough month health-wise. I had a nasty cold that took me out for a week. My kids had not one… or even 2… but 3 rounds of what is affectionately called the “stomach flu,” and once we were all done with that, my husband tested positive for influenza A. This month alone, I was homebound with a sick person for 13 whole days. That is a lot. Honestly, it was enough to make a homeopath out of me (anything that will help), and given my proclivity to worry, it is still enough to make me want to hibernate and disinfect obsessively until summer.
With my husband’s most recent brush with the flu, I had one singular focus. I wanted to keep the rest of the family from getting it. I armored myself with internet wisdom, Lysol, and prayers. I decided the best course of action was to quarantine him to the bedroom and a bathroom separate from the rest of the family (many medical sites agree with this wisdom). I read up on how long the virus lives and whether or not the washing machine kills the flu (do yourself a favor and don’t research this—it’s kinda gross). I performed daily disinfecting, and so many hand washings my hands were red and raw. The kids and I stayed home to be near hubby if he needed anything, but also, if I’m honest because I didn’t have the strength to do anything else. I was so consumed by worry.
For those of you who know me in real life, you will be happy to see that it worked. Whether it was the hand-washing, the Tamiflu, the flu shots we all had months earlier, or the elderberry, no one else got the dreaded flu. But this brush with sickness (and the others this month) really left me with something unexpected: regret.
When my husband was sick with the flu, I had a friend in town I canceled on because I was afraid. The kids had some extra time off school, and I squandered our chance to have fun excursions because I was worried. I spent my time obsessively cleaning because I was afraid. I was rightly fearful of spreading it to others, but I crossed a line where I stopped living life—well after my husband was healthy again—because I was afraid.
As I became increasingly sure that we had made it through this trial, I also became confident that I let my worry about a future “flu” rob me of the joy I could have in the present. And this is what left me with regret. So friends, as you face whatever you will encounter today: remember to enjoy the little moments and to notice the magic parts that are in your life. The magic is there—in a smile or a moment of happiness or pure comfort. You cannot control everything, and worry does not change the future. Next time illness knocks on our doorstep, I’ll be right there with you—fighting for joy and sanity. And hoping to do a little better next time.