I have a confession to make:
I like being sick.
Not the kind of sick where anyone dies, God forbid, but the kind of sick that keeps you in bed in a dull haze where time and work have no meaning, at least for a few days. The kind of sick that makes your family members shush each other out of respect for your obvious need to rest. The kind of sick where your little one peeks his head in the doorway of your bedroom and with the sweet poignancy of being on the opposite side of things for once says, “Refuah Shleima, Eema,” in the softest voice he can manage for a boy on the cusp of manhood.
When you work for a living, you don’t get the in-between kind of sick days where you can revisit old favorites like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or A Little Princess like you did when you were a school kid because as soon as your fever subsides, you have to be back at your desk. But you can still get the kind of sick day where you’re just too sick to do anything but lapse in and out of a fevered sleep and in between this sort of half-awake, half-asleep drowsing, hope that someone will offer to make you a cup of tea so you won’t have to get out of bed and make it yourself.
I got sick last week: a virus. In one way, it was a drag, because it meant using up my sick days in January, right smack at the beginning of the work year. But I rationalized that MOST people get sick in winter, which meant I was allowed to be sick, even though it meant not having those days waiting for me to use them at the end of the year. Even though it meant I was taking sick days after having only just now used up last year’s ration of sick days when I wasn’t sick which meant I knew just how much I relished those “sick” days that weren’t sick days at all, but rather bumming around days where I just bummed around and emptied my head and didn’t write one word at Kars for Kids for several days. Not even the smallest of prepositions.
(I is, therefore I am.)
On the one hand, being actually sick meant more time off from work, while at the same time it meant no time off for fun later in the year when I would inevitably be suffering from burnout.
But it didn’t matter. Because I was just too sick to work.
I took off two days and then my fever was gone. I wasn’t sick enough to stay in bed, which meant I had to work. I know this because I took my temperature. Repeatedly. Like the stubborn inanimate tool it inhabits, the mercury in that thermometer refused to rise. But I still felt lousy. And deprived.
How I wished I could go back to that fever haze where the only thing that mattered was the softness of my pillow and finding the cool spot for my feet and being allowed to do absolutely nothing but sleep, all day long if I wanted to.
And I did.