Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chickenpox

I was bedridden with chickenpox when I was six years old. My brothers, then around nine years old and twelve months, came down with it soon after. I remember it as one of the best times of my life and one of my favorite childhood memories. My older brother shakes his head at this and snorts sarcastically, “Ah, yes! The pox! Good times!” Mom doesn’t like thinking about those weeks at all and when the subject comes up will usually only mutter, “I thought I would LOSE my MIND!” (Sometimes she dwells on it long enough to continue, “UPstairs to check on YOU, then DOWNstairs to check on THEM! Then BACK upstairs....”) My younger brother laughs at our takes on those weeks, as he himself was too young at the time to have any memories of them (and as our resident “Joe Cool” could shrug them off easily enough even if he did).

Mom remembers how very ill I was with it, but to me, chickenpox was a series of naps (and reprimands of “Don’t scratch at those! They’ll never heal!”) interspersed with bursts of magic—and Mom was the magician. She brought me her square artist pastels and sketchpad and displayed my drawings all over the room so I could see them from my bed. I had no appetite and wouldn’t eat anything until she hit upon the idea of chocolate cupcakes. Cupcakes! Without a proper meal beforehand! I hadn’t known such a thing was even possible. She wheeled the TV into my bedroom on a cart, and I watched a program about a kid sleeping on a bed-sized loaf of bread. “If I wake up hungry in the middle of the night,” the child explained, “I just eat a handful of my bed.” (Maybe I only dreamed this, but if so, I was sick, indeed.) I awoke once to a true swirl of color: Mom had blown up what seemed like a hundred bright balloons and left them to float around the room for me to see first thing upon waking. When I’d reach out from my bed to smack one, a bunch would bounce into each other and send another vibrant wave of them toward me. I don’t know what time of year it was, but I remember all those chickenpox days as warm and sunny. Maybe they actually were, and maybe my mother, with her intuitive cure of creativity and love, simply made them seem that way.

Twenty-four years later, I can point out three pale chickenpox scars on my right wrist and forearm. I am grateful for them. Not everyone is so lucky as to be marked by magic. I roll up my sleeve and am reminded that it really exists. I know that there are people out there who will bring you a chocolate cupcake before you even realize how much you want one, and that your little world, even if it looks like not-so-very-much right now, might just become a virtual rainbow while you sleep.

9 comments:

Kent "slub" said...

I'm casting my mind way (waaayyy) back. The only thing chicken pox did for me was give me the chance to tell everyone I had "The pox" and to smear pink "stuff" all over and go out in public without anyone thinking it was odd. I also seem to remember being threatened with having to wear mittens. And I caught it in the middle of summer. Bleh!

Your public demands more!
Take care...

dawn said...

hey, sweetcheeks!

i so enjoyed the pox entry.
keep it up, chica! i want more...

d

Val said...

Kent, I think I'm just blocking out the negative aspects of the dread Pox. Mittens in the summer! That, I definitely would have blocked out. :)

Thank you, Dawn. :)

Steveningen said...

I had no idea you could write so poignantly. That was an excellent start to your blog. I'm looking forward to more. Count me in as a regular reader!

Val said...

Thank you so much, Steven. My M.A. thesis was part-memoir. I just didn't expect that it would take me a full year after finishing it to feel like writing again! It feels good to get back into it. :)

Bri said...

Given, I don't read as much as a lot of people do, but Sis, you are my favorite writer in the world.

Val said...

That means a ton to me. Thank you again, Bri! :)

Janie said...

I myself don't remember having the chicken pox, but I do remember when both of my girls had them. They were covered from head to toe. Like clockwork, my Kindergartner came home with them and almost two weeks to the day, my Three year old got them. She would tell us to leave her alone. We had chicken pops! She was the one with the chicken pops as she called them. That was funny for all of us and we still call them that. My girls are now 29 and 27.

Val said...

Janie, you and my mom could definitely share stories. :) "Chicken Pops" is too funny. Kids say the best things--and their words live forever. :) That has to be an especially miserable illness for a 3-year-old, though!

Thank you for visiting. ♥