March 22, 2014
When the Silver Lining Fades
I tend to subscribe to the idea that Every Cloud has a Silver Lining. I just find it pays to be positive in general. I am not always such a Pollyanna type. I have my dark hours of self-doubt and of disgust with the world, but overall, as I heard someone say in a documentary about the uncertain future of the planet I agree that 'Pessimism is not a strategy." (Not that I am a strategic person. I tend to float along taking opportunities as they present themselves - or not - and going with my instincts.) When unfortunate circumstances arise, I tend to find the upside fairly quickly, as long as the circumstance does not last too, too long.
Take the last couple of weeks of my life as an example. First, my husband caught a cold. I had it three days later, and much worse than he did. It was just a cold, I told myself. I could still read, eat well, sip hot lemon and honey. It wasn't bad at all, really. I got better for two days and my eldest daughter caught the cold. I roasted a chicken, made soup, cleaned a little and caught up on the laundry, glad to be feeling better enough to look after her. Then, my husband came home with a tale of a guest at his hotel who had spent the day vomiting. He was concerned about catching her flu. That night, he came down with stomach flu and I was relieved I could help him out in the middle of the night when his symptoms were at their worst and he fainted in the upstairs hallway. I am not sure if it was the guest's flu or just part two of whatever we had started with, but two days later, I came down with it. I spent three days in and out of bed. I would think I was getting better, only to be up half the night with stomach cramps and spend the next sleeping to recover. Still, I was grateful that my daughter was feeling better and could help with meals, and that my husband had recovered so quickly from his flu and could look after everything else. The silver linings were still within view.
One evening, my eldest daughter, by then well recovered from her cold, asked me how I was feeling."It's only a matter of time," I said.
"Until what?" she asked me, eyebrows furrowed, daring me to be pessimistic about my prognosis.
"Until I feel better."
"Oh," she said, brightening a little as if to say, "That's the mother I approve of." She despises other people's drama, just as I did at her age.
On the ninth day of my on-and-off illness, my husband came home early from work. He came to see me in our bedroom. I admitted to him I was completely miserable and frustrated, and burst into tears. After commiserating with me he went upstairs to see our youngest daughter who had, so far, escaped any version of the flu and was just home from school. I lay in my bed, comfortable, and somewhat relieved after my tiny nervous breakdown, but I still felt plenty sorry for myself. My cache of silver linings was all used up, I thought. I would just have to wait until this misery passed.
A few minutes later my husband returned to our room and poked his head around the door. "There's an email for you," he said.
"I'll read it later," I said, waving the idea of dealing with emails away with a limp hand and reclosing my eyes.
"It's from a movie magazine in Australia. They want to buy some of your photos. The ones you took of the set of Wayward Pines."
I opened my eyes and looked at him. A smile crept into the corners of my mouth. "Really?" No one had ever offered to pay me for any of my creative product before.
"I thought you'd like to know," he said flashing me a little grin and heading back upstairs. Sometimes it is unnerving to be known so well.
I had slept most of the day and suddenly, I felt hungry. I had been subsisting for the past several days on bread and cheese, crackers, apples and yogurt. I asked for a bowl of my homemade granola mixed with yogurt. I ate it all and began to feel slightly stronger. My youngest came down to visit me and I asked if she would like to watch some TV with me in my room. She went upstairs to get a DVD and returned to announce that her dad suggested we all watch it upstairs. I decided it would not kill me to get up and join my family in the living room. I made myself comfortable in my usual chair with a blanket and we watched an episode of the comedic classic Jeeves and Wooster. I would read that email from Australia later. For now, it was enough to know it was there waiting for me. Just when I thought the silver linings had deserted me, one had shown up gleaming and, even if it came to nothing, was giving me hope for the moment.
My husband made a light supper. I ate it and felt stronger still. The next day I read that email from Australia. It even seemed legitimate.