I have been steeped in sleep and wheatgrass juice since Tuesday, and counting, no thanks to a nasty cold that lightly touched Yaya Lita first, skipped happily over strong and sturdy little Juliana next, deciding finally to stay and try to make friends with me, sleep-deprived Lucy.
When I was 16 I remember I could go sleepless for one day and a half and be as shiny and happy as a child after her afternoon siesta. What do you know — those days are gone. Deprive me of sleep for two days straight and not only will my eyes look sunken, I will most likely catch some sniffles, too.
Monday I dragged myself out of bed to report to the Sweet Life set, knowing very well that the dose of laughter I always get from my co-host and good friend Wilma will tide me over during the day. This girl was born with serious funny bones, not of the timid and proper variety but more of the in-your-face, let-me-guffaw and I-will-not-worry-about-what-they-think range. With her you will never get wrinkles, just laugh lines. She is a happy pill camouflaged as a woman. We had really nice episodes, a good lineup of guests. True enough, I survived Monday but as soon as I saw our bed it took superhuman strength to head off first to the bathroom for a quick, hot shower. I had the chills, and my bones ached, I suppose very much like that of an arthritic and very old woman (I’m just guessing here), and I fell asleep, I think, even before I closed my eyes, and not a moment longer.
Tuesday first came in the form of a wet kiss that smelled very much like toothpaste, courtesy of Juliana who was off to school. We said our usual morning prayers with our hands clutched together. I bless her, she kisses and hugs her daddy, the door closes, and so do my eyes. I still had four more hours before I had to finally be up for my 11 a.m. call time.
I woke up with the feeling that a wicked person had sanded my throat without asking for my permission. And I was sneezing like it was my quota for the year. Richard took one look at me and told me in no unnecessary terms there was no way I could work in my condition. In short, he was not allowing me to roll out of bed. The wisdom of a husband; I did not realize how right he was until I tried to protest, and nothing came out but a croak. I sounded like a cross between Ate Luds and Bella Flores, on their very bad days, which is scary considering how young I still am. We would run out of episodes to air, Sept. 21 being a holiday once again. Packing up a taping day would cost the production too much. So I tucked myself again under the comforter, in my thermal pajamas and socks, and let my sweet man take care of the day.
As it turned out, he had to pinch-hit for me for all three episodes. He hosted the show with Wilma and did all the segments including “project time” where I always feature a craft or some mommy-ish activity. He was also game enough to do our trademark Sweet Life pose at the end of the show. Thank you very much, Honey. You saved the day. (Those three episodes will air on September 28, 29, and 30.)
While he was doing all that I stayed home and really rested. There was nothing much I could do; I was just too weak. There was no fever, just a feeling of congestion in the head and a fervent urge to often press and stretch out the skin on my forehead and my eyebrows in opposite directions simultaneously, for whatever relief it gave, real or imagined. I doubled up on shots of wheatgrass juice, I slept long and deep and woke up with pink cheeks and a red nose. I chomped down 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C in three doses instead of one big one (something I learned from a book on natural medicine). I had neither appetite nor craving for real food, but enjoyed somehow when I had someone to eat with. I realize now that company really matters.
When Juliana came home from school she was so happy to see me, home on a Monday, and she dutifully sat beside me and told me about her day. When I was feeling all drowsy again because of the medicine I was taking she never left me. While I slept, she harvested fruits and vegetables, and sent her friends cows and horses in Farmville (a computer game). I ask her sometimes what good Farmville can contribute to her being and she seriously answers, with not a moment lost, that “farming” teaches her “responsibility.” How, I ask? “If I do not harvest in time my plants wither, and my time will be wasted.” (She pauses for emphasis after the last word.) Now I understand why she whispers to her daddy in the morning: “Harvest my farm while I’m in school, Dad, okay? Don’t forget, please? And plant some new ones so I earn points to buy a pink cottage.” Maybe one day when our garden is big enough we can start planting a real garden, an organic garden. We will grow fat and plump tomatoes and make tomato jam from scratch. I will bottle them and cover the lid with cloth in a pretty, old-fashioned print that will evoke images of tree houses and aprons, wooden stools and homey kitchens. I will put such pretty labels and happy little stories about them before sending them out as no-occasion gifts. Wouldn’t that be so nice?
I do not look forward to feeling this lousy again anytime soon but when this virus runs its course I will miss eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner in bed. I will miss drawing happy little nothings with Juliana’s Stabilo fine-tip colored pens for hours on end. I have carefully if randomly filled out a page, Juliana sometimes picks up where I leave off, and we go on and on until now white space is left to the naked eye. Our little drawing is looking quite nice, not exactly sensible but nice, with very joyful colors at that.
Now, I have the luxury of time, even if it is mostly spent in bed, and I am almost enchanted at how strange and foreign this almost feels. On a weekend, this may not be like such a big deal, but on a weekday and in an uninterrupted streak no less… it is like a surprise vacation. It is amusing, too, how time also seems to take its cue from us, slowing down ever so gently the minute we, too, slow down. The past few days I’ve had feel very much like summer days — longer, kinder, the strange rain showers notwithstanding. I will miss having so much time to watch TV, I hardly missed SNN and I am starting very much to get hooked on Stairway to Heaven. I cannot begin to tell you how much the theme song of that soap stirs me. When I hear the aching, longing melody and the words — “Langit ka, lupa ako, hanggang tanaw nalang ba tayo… kaya kong dalhin ngunit di kayang limutin… ang pag-ibig mo sa akin…” Awwww… something to that effect. Not sure of the words, it is the melody that really gets me. I know, I know, it’s “sobrang cheesy,” but I love it with no apologies. I tell you, it makes me sad and happy at the same time, in a way that I fully welcome. I loved it back when I saw the original version in 2005, I want to love it just as much now in 2009, with Dingdong in it.
Richard just called, reminding me to get plenty of rest and drink my vitamin C. He wants to know if I am craving anything in particular or if I want him to cook something for me when he gets home. I tell him I only want to eat spicy Zaragosa sardines and red rice. He is taking very good care of me.
I think he is terrified that he may have to pinch-hit for me on Shall We Dance tonight at 8:30, and dance. Serious dancing — now, that makes him nervous.