As Bridget would say, buckle up. This day was eternal and so is the recap.
By Saturday morning, I had already taken two hotel showers. Listen, y’all. Hotel showers make me a better woman. One of the best things in life is to take a good 40 minutes and completely scald my skin without paying the bill later. It places above eating frozen Snicker bars but is short of watching "Hands on a Hard Body." Also, I’m pretty sure my heavenly mansion includes a water heater the size of "that there K-Mart."
(Bridget, that was my subtle "get thee to La Jolla" hint.)
Back to Saturday morning. Madeline still had a low fever and no appetite. This no appetite was really bothering me. She knows that hotels equal gigantic Belgium waffles but after we poured the syrup all over the plate, she didn’t want to take one bite.
As a parent, what do you do? The symptoms aren’t severe to anyone else but you know something is up and it’s bad but you're in Alabama. Pretend I'm John Quinones. What would you do??
Madeline was so ready to see “her Peter,” as she calls him so we headed deep into country-road Alabama. Peter spent the last two years at Marion Military Institute and graduated in the top of his class with honors. We're all so stinkin’ proud of him.
I'm pretty sure Madeline would still be clinging to Peter today if we didn't make her let go. There's a lot of love here, folks.
So. Much. Love.
This is why he is "her Peter." This is why.
After his graduation ceremony, we hung out with Peter for a bit and then went to his commissioning. By then, Madeline was doing much worse and I knew she needed to see a doctor. The girl was miserable and burning up but refused to go to the car because she didn’t want to miss a second of “her Peter.” So I did one of the rudest things ever; I actually walked out to get Tylenol and then allowed Madeline to stretch out across two chairs onto my lap. Sorry Emily Post and Marion.
After the ceremonies, our plan was to travel about an hour to Montgomery, eat a big family celebration dinner together and have my parents tell Madeline and Brennan about Disney. (Remember how my expectations were through the roof, much like the Greensburg courthouse tree? This particular moment was sky-high in my mind.) (Oh, my Linden Ladies. I just can't stop.)
Well, instead Joe and I knew we needed to get to the closest urgent care clinic so we cancelled the dinner, my mom told the kids about Disney in the parking lot and gave Madeline an early birthday present: a complete Pocahontas outfit, complete with earrings, feather necklace and moccasins.
Madeline’s reaction was, um, how a miserably sick child would react. Happy but unable to express it. It was so sad.
So the rest of my family plowed ahead to the hotel in Florida while Joe and I sped towards Selma. We found a clinic and experienced:
- a huge insurance hang-up
- a “Selma-itis” allergy diagnosis (seriously, that’s what the doctor called it)
- an ear infection diagnosis
- three dirty diapers
- two failed nursing sessions
- a colossal prescription mix-up
- three Burger King meals
And hours later, we were finally on our way to Florida. This was a bad leg of the trip. The heavens opened up and let loose the Pacific Ocean on US-231. But we did listen to the Brian Regan station on Pandora, which was slightly redeeming.
Then late that night, with several hours still to go before reaching the hotel, Madeline had a hard time. To give you some background, when Joe and Madeline get high fevers, they get delirious. It might sound funny but it’s not. It’s like watching a child in the middle of a night terror that goes on and on until the fever is lowered.
Well, Madeline’s fever came raging back and she got delirious. It was hard to watch because among other awful things, she was completely terrified about something chasing her and was screaming for Mommy. She kept screaming after I crawled into the backseat, stroked her hair and tried not to shake her and yell back, “I’m here! I’m right here!”
Joe started handing me stacks of napkins and I dumped water on them and plastered them all over Madeline, trying to bring the fever down.
After an eternity and coming thisclose to telling Joe we should just stop at the next exit with a bathtub, her fever came down and she came out of it. It’s like she woke up from a nightmare.
Her first words were, “Mom, I had a scary dream. “
I know, baby. Daddy and I just lived it with you for the last 20 minutes. Do you have any vodka in your Rapunzel bag?
When it was over, she was completely calm and wanted to watch You Tube Disney videos on my phone. She hung up her Pocahontas dress in front of her and caressed the fringe, beading and “suede” and acted completely normal. I sat next to her, holding her hand and silently cried, thankful the car was dark and she couldn’t see my tears.
There is nothing worse than watching your child suffer in any way and there’s nothing else that needs to be said about that.
After a bit, Madeline was still covered with wet napkins, my skirt was soaked through from dumping the water all over my lap, her head was leaning on my shoulder and I was spent. From the driver’s seat, Joe looked at me through the rearview mirror and said, “Hey. It’s after midnight. Happy Mother’s Day.”
Happy Mother’s Day, indeed.