For impoverished mothers living with PTSD, most blessings are oddly shaped and paltry. This week, my first blessing came in the guise of my in-laws being here for the first and worst day that I acquired the stomach virus which my daughters lovingly brought home.
But let’s rewind.
The Sick Week began with Penelope, my youngest daughter. She got the virus first. I discovered she was sick when I was giving the sisters a bath. I discovered she was sick by scent. The scent of diarrhea. Penelope, not yet two, is known to poop in the bath on occasion. So, upon smelling feces, I immediately looked to her rump. I saw no telltale caca blob floating in her vicinity and attributed the stench to a fart. Nonetheless, I figured a true poop was coming, and turned to gather the towels. I heard a second fart ripple through the water. I turned, quick, ready to snatch the girls out if there was fecal matter, and was momentarily stilled by what I saw. Floating behind my youngest daughter was a thin, translucent waft of light brown smudge. It hung there for a moment, turning slightly like a leaf adrift in a breeze, before thinning, shaping tendrils in the drift, and then undulating toward the drain in diarrhea-jellyfish formation.
Then it was gone. As though it had never been. But for the lingering stench. I realized that this is what had happened before, except the first time I had missed the ghost-poop-jellyfish. So I snatched the girls out, wrapped them in towels, and began to drain the tub as quickly as possible. Of course, as I was bending over to pull out the cloth we use to plug the drain, Penelope, my littlest one, my sweetie-pie, ran to their room, lay tummy-down on the floor before the foot of her bed and, little butt raised high in the air, completed her diarrhea.
This time it was not so mesmerizing. This time it was projectile, and across the carpet, and the backboard of her bed, and pooling in the Mrs. Potato Head hairpiece that was under her bed.
This was the beginning of the Sick Week.