“Are you sure?” Jon mumbles through his mask and 14 feet of apnea hose, so I answer the question I think I hear (such is the big old breakdown in most of our communication).
“I’m 5 feet 6 inches,” I answer, but I can’t move. I can’t breathe. It’s 2 a.m. and something akin to a hot poker has mistaken my armpit and breast for a couple of campfire marshmallows.
Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times this happens — not the hot poker thing, that was a delightful little detour on the highway to hell, but the impending death thing. All too often (my masked lover will attest to it), I come down with some sort of suck-the-life-out-of-you sickness I’m convinced won’t leave me to see the light of day let alone the inside of my own armpit.
“Mastitis,” the doctor informs me. “You can try submerging the affected area in a bowl of warm water.” And while I’m sure she means well, this feels something akin to, “You can try booking a three-day all-inclusive. I hear the Poconos is lovely this time of year.”
I look at the clock. It’s half past noon, my boob is on fire and Junior is running around like someone fed him a bag of cookies for breakfast (Thank you, Daddy). So when my own father, along with an offer of Chinese takeout pulls into the driveway, it’s like a life raft being lowered into a sea of dirty dishes, toys, that bowl of warm water long since turned cold before any submerging or Pocono pining could occur.
“I’ll call them,” I say in my fevered state, placing an order of pork fried rice and two egg rolls to The Law Office of Richard J. Shapiro. Let’s hope they don’t bill for the call. I’m already up to my egg rolls in debt.
When I finally pull into CVS to pick up my antibiotics (after much mayhem and mammary gland inflammation) I remember that I am supposed to be at a funeral, which, in retrospect, considering the state of my boob and lack of a warm bowl may well have ended up like the first chapter of a Jonathan Tropper novel. I drive past the Wilton Library and Sun Spa Nails and two women jogging and suddenly I want to jog, but really I just want nice activewear and someone to talk to and that egg roll that’s still sitting on the counter even though I know I shouldn’t be eating it.
The dam in my boob takes up residence for days. I swear a family of beavers is living inside of me. Junior spends a lot of time making guest appearances at the farm, touring the grounds in that little red wagon, tearing up arugula plants like he has a personal vendetta against them and generally giving my husband the equivalent of puppy appeal with the ladies. I sleep more than I’ve ever slept. I pick up a book and almost read it. I order activewear, then cancel my order quickly because me plus jogging definitely equals impending death.
A friend tells me to try frozen cabbage leaves for my blighted boob and Jon tells me I’m every farmer’s dream, but really I just feel like Luther Billis in South Pacific with a slight modification on the coconuts. I’m delirious and desperately in need of some more cabbage. I see this now and the egg roll that’s turned into some sixth-grade science experiment growing legs on the counter. I’m not dying. I’m not short (Google assures me).
I take the antibiotics, toss out the egg roll, and window surf getaways in the Poconos. Suddenly I’m flooded with images of sultry summers and picturesque ponds, breathtaking beach scenes that leave me longing for a life without blocked boobs and egg rolls in escrow.
I wake up the next morning and decide after 18 months that it’s time to stop crying over spoiled milk. My masked lover rolls over in his sleep. “Happy Mastitis Day,” he mumbles but I happen to speak this very particular dialect of Vadarapnea and so I smile, content in the knowledge that (for today anyway) I am still very much alive, very much 5 foot 6 inches, and very much aware that I only had to wait 364 days for my one day of rest to arrive. Besides, how could I possibly find anything to complain about on Mother’s Day?
Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.