Right now I imagine I would be getting ready for bed in a cozy bedroom in Bangkok, Thailand after having had a sensory-filled day of eating authentic Phad Thai, swimming in the pool with my five-year old nephew, taking photographs of golden Buddhas, sweating from 95-degree heat, and talking about music and culture with my brother and sister-in-law.
Instead I am in Seattle, recovering from the stomach flu. These things happen, I tell myself to feel better, and yet I did not imagine I would board my plane last Monday morning, throw-up multiple times before take-off, be asked to exit the plane (I think I made quite the impression), and return to my bed to convalesce. For five days.
What has come out of this experience is a sense of gratitude. I will admit it has taken me days to come to this feeling — and I am still partially traumatized by the whole event — but I am going to do my best to be thankful. And here is what I am thankful for…
My body telling me (albeit violently) to metaphorically (and not so metaphorically) stop, drop and roll. Imagine if the plane had taken off with sick-ridden, anxiety-filled me hurling for seventeen hours. Thank you, body, for your impecable, though embarrassing timing. I hope to never experience that again, though I am grateful for having the experience of barfing in public. It was a fear of mine (and I know it is for many), and I am grateful that I now have that under my belt. I didn’t die from it.
My family’s love and concern for me, even though I know they were feeling such disappointment and loss that I was going to have to cancel my trip. I am grateful that Thailand will wait for me when I am ready, for I hear she is a wise and patient country and would understand. I hear my brother and his family are, too.
My cat Selkie’s three-day nap with me, including escorting me to the toilet without disgust or judgment. His purring was especially settling to my stomach.
My partner’s trips to the store for electrolyte-infused drinks, soda crackers, and more. What is a partner to do during these times? Get provisions, check on me every few hours, kiss my forehead, give me time. Thank you, Walaka.
My mother’s Mama Bear instincts in full force as she came to unpack me because I just couldn’t do it on my own. My suitcases had remained like beached whales in my bedroom, fat ghosts of what-would-have-been. I cried a little as I unpacked my 50 SPF swimsuit, my sun hats, my bug spray, sunscreen, and all the things I bought to take with me on the adventure. There will be other adventures. Rest assured, I am now thoroughly prepared.
My friends, who emailed, called, or Facebooked to express their sympathy. I am grateful for you.
Art journaling. Words have been difficult to access until now, so once the fever broke and I could focus even slightly I went right to my art journal to create pieces that either made me feel vibrant or reckoned with my sense of loss.
I am thankful for having created this piece to honor my would-have-been trip and to help heal my disappointment:
There are many ways to turn disappointment into gratitude, including the ritual I describe here in a previous post, but art saved me this week. Thank you, Creative Force, for keeping me grounded in color, texture, image, intuition, and emotion.