Sickness and the Single Mommy: “Florence Nightingale” Helps Me Recover


Immobilization. That darn stomach bug that has been going around completely knocked me down. It kicked me off of my two feet! As I lay in bed, covered in blankets, a hooded sweatshirt, and a hat – freezing and sweaty – I thought, “surely death is near”. But worse yet, I thought, “I’m a single mom of an eight year old who has not yet experienced my inability to care for her.” This second thought pained me more.

Despite my usual mommy-super-powers, I was Superman, and this bug was my kryptonite!

While I will spare you the grim details of my gut wrenching symptoms, this mindful mommy has a mini-tale to tell: one of heart-opening love.

As soon as I realized my legs were giving out, I left work and drove straight to my daughter’s school to dismiss her. I knew once I entered the house, there was no way I would make it back out to meet a school bus! We zipped home. I peeled of the work clothes, armored up with layers and hit the hay. There were very few directives for Grace. She said she was hungry. I said “you’ll have to find something”. And I was passed out – cold.

Here’s what I remember in my unhealthy blur: Grace sat at the kitchen table, ate a snack, did her homework, and then asked to play on her Ipad. A good friend texted me: “Do you want me to bring you and Grace dinner?” I think I replied: “Not hungry. She is. Yes, please. TY”

Then, I heard the door bell, a precautionary “who is it” (we also have a peep hole, thankfully), and some parts of a conversation: “How was your day? I am sorry Mommy is sick…I brought you dinner…”

I remember the kind presence standing over me, placing a tall glass of ginger-ale at my bed-side, the healing hand gently placed on my head, and a “keep resting please”.  And then our meal-bringing-ginger-ale-giving super hero was gone — in a flash.

But a new super hero arrived: My blue-eyed, flaxen haired compassionate beauty, Grace. It’s true: she could have (and probably should have) ignored me. I certainly wouldn’t have blamed her – any sensible human should avoid any stomach flu victim! Hell, it’s self preservation, folks! I get it.

But, Grace became my Florence Nightingale.

“Mommy, would you like more ginger-ale?” She poured a new glass and brought it to my lips with a bendy straw (love those things – GREAT invention!)

“Mommy, here is a cold towel for your head.” Let me tell you, a wet, icy, scratchy dish towel never felt so sublime! Her patting was gentle, too.

“Mommy, how about some lotion for your back?” My sweatshirt was lifted up, and smooth, fresh from the bottle lotion was rubbed gently on my lower back. Man that stuff was COLD! Yet, she was right. It soothed me. It smelled clean. And I was “out” again.

When I woke up, about an hour later, Florence was back for her repeat duties. This time, she added: “I love you. I am worried about you. Should I call Grammy?” I think I said yes. But I drifted off again.

Well, Grammy never arrived – certainly, not to her fault (in yoga we participants silence our phones – lol). But my Florence kept duty. Never wavering. She showered herself. Put on her own pajamas, and read herself a book. No directives from me at all (shall we say: a first).

Amidst her bravery, my Little Florence spoke words of concern, while holding back buckets of tears: “Mommy, I am really worried about you.” Fortunately, by this point, I’d had a couple ladies room visits — but I am sparing you the gory details, remember – and a couple hours of restorative sleep. 

So, the improved-health-light was visible at the end of my sickness tunnel. Grace did NOT have to tuck herself in. Thankfully, my legs were wobbly, but now working! I expressed reassuring words of my soon to be renewed health to my Miss Florence.

Before I knew it, my lovely little nurse was fast asleep. Her turn to be out cold! We had both had a rough afternoon and evening.

Oh, and yes, Grammy, did finally call back. She apologized for her immersion in downward dog, while I was performing my stomach-bug-poses, and she now volunteered full duty. Yet, it was no longer needed. I was weak, exhausted, but moving forward, and headed back to bed.

So, what mindful lessons do I bring to this “Sickness and the Single Mom”  blurry episode?

Everyone needs and deserves a Florence Nightingale: someone to offer “an endless supply of compassion…fiercely dedicated to alleviating a patient’s suffering”. While I received several texts, a phone call from mom, and an amazing dinner-delivery (all appreciated 100 times over, thank you), my own “Lady with the Lamp” was my source of survival, and hope.

My hope for you is, if (and most likely when, unfortunately) you enter your own dark tunnel of illness that your Lady (or Gentleman) Lamp Bearer will show up and guide you through the depths of your illness, so you can view the warmer light of hope ahead.

Also, I hope that you will have smaller “lamp bearers” too: text messengers, love offerings from your family (kind words from a mom, a dad, or an aunt or uncle, perhaps), and maybe even a dinner-deliverer.

And, if you can not imagine who these people may be right now, or how they may make it to you when you need them most, my prayer is that they are on their way to you.

You know,  Florence’s family did not want her to go into nursing. Instead of backing down, she is forever hailed as the “Pioneer of Modern Nursing”.  You may not know who your Nightingale is, at present. They may be pioneering their way to you. Yet, I believe that person exists in all of us: to bring a cool drink, to offer words of love, or maybe to bring some sweet smelling lotion.

To receive a friend, we must be a friend. And I am proud to say, I think my daughter is going to have a lot friends. There is no doubt she is an excellent one to me.

Wishing you a Lamp Bearer. It’s the best.

Blessings and peace,

Pamela Rae


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