“I’ll tell you a secret. Something they don’t teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”
Achilles, from the 2004 Movie, Troy
It has been quite the roller coaster ride these past few days. I’ve come to realize over the years that there are a few things that can compel me to stop dead on my tracks, that practically all my activities come to a screeching halt. Well, almost. It’s when I’m so sick I can barely get out of bed. These have been few and far between, thank goodness! I’m not talking the odd sniffle or a bout of indigestion. I’m talking full-blown asthma requiring repeated inhalations and even the dreaded oral steroids. Bitter. Nasty. Not good for my bones either.
It crept up from behind in the shadows of the back porch. I noticed a mild wind last Saturday. I thought my head throbbed. I dismissed it as maybe the effect of low blood sugar from having skipped lunch. Or maybe I wasn’t drinking enough. I went to bed slightly congested. I thought maybe a mild cold was starting. For the rest of the weekend, I started to cough and sputter. By Monday morning, I had the full-blown orchestra on my chest, with wind instruments predominating.
They say that it’s not uncommon for fifty-somethings like me to think about mortality every now and then. In between bouts of breathiness, chest rattling, and forceful hacking, when I managed to breathe calmly, I thought of people I know who have had a more direct confrontation with their possible leap to the great beyond. And I considered myself fortunate. I’ve been miserable. I have been exhausted from coughing so frequently and my brain has been addled by all the medications I’ve had to ingest and inhale. I’ve been sleep-deprived (and have also kept my hubby up for several nights now!) for days and nights. But I knew that my symptoms would abate in a few days with the requisite rest and medication. I do not have a deadline. I don’t have a date with a cloaked stranger.
I thought about the scene in the film, Troy, where Achilles tells Briseis that the gods envy us (humans). I wonder if these Greek gods ever had the chutzpah to see beyond living day after day unendingly. Do they savor their days as much as we mortals do, knowing we can’t have forever? Then I realize my thought process would be too limited to grasp their vast complexity. So I let it go.
It has been almost five years since I was sick enough to stay home for a few days. Each time, I take it as a reminder that I am human and therefore, vulnerable. I call in to work and I hear that my team manages. I am reminded that I am dispensable. My hubby and my daughter have cared for me. I know I’m loved.
I woke up this morning feeling a little better. I think the worst part has passed. I took a shower and for lunch, I made myself a gorgeous salad. No more soup. I managed to demolish my creation without spewing chewed up greens across the kitchen when I had to cough. For this, I am grateful.