The Bells of Illness


When I am sick I always think back on when I was a child and sick. I find illness very different in adulthood than I did in childhood. In childhood, it consumed everything. I wasn’t just a little sick; I was on my deathbed—“Goodbye, dear world!”—or at least it feels that theatrical now. When I am sick these days, I brush it off. Hope it doesn’t interfere with my social life or work life. I do not let it consume me.

I remember in childhood if one of my siblings got sick, we all got sick. At times such as this, my mother would give us reign of “the bell”. Oh, the power! There was something to that brassy weight of motherly-care. It is funny how mothers wait on you hand and foot from birth, but the idea of calling them like they are your servant and having them indulge in your every whim was somehow novel and more intoxicating. We would giggle as we rang “the bell” and waited for her speedy entrance, the porcelain cool of her hand on our foreheads like a thermometerless therMOMeter. “Ginger ale!” we would demand—heathens, the whole lot of us. There was something about knowing someone cared that much for you—that despite the fever, the vomiting, the insomnia, the moodiness, and consumption of illness, there was one person who loved you enough to not fear contamination. Maybe that is why I don’t indulge in illness these days; because I don’t have anyone that cares for me more than they care for themselves.

It doesn’t bug me really, just makes me nostalgic for my mother’s care. These days I usually do the taking care of. Any boyfriend I have turns into a 6 year old when they just have a cold. I don’t care if I risk illness. I still take care of them. It is something innate in me, some nurturing quality that takes over, passed down from my mother. Even when my friends get sick—I make them soup, I show them affection, I keep them company; I care for them. My friend Josh says my problem is I care too much. He says that it is proven that in any relationship the person who cares less has the upper-hand. And maybe he is right. But I think there is a general lack of empathy in this world, and I want no part in it.

I sit here, writing this at work with Strep throat, exhausted from anti-biotics; and I really wish I had that bell.



  1. I agree, the experience of illness is quite different in childhood than in adulthood. I don’t get sick very often, as I did in childhood, but when I do I take to the bed, and fever turns my brain so that I become paranoid and labile.

    I think your friend is right, the one who loves less does indeed have the upper hand. I usually love more. It’s the empath in me, I suppose.

    1. I think it is more difficult to love more, but more rewarding in the long run.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: