In the thick of it I don't have time to worry. But when he finally collapses, in a deep but restless sleep, from exhaustion and slight dehydration I sit worriedly watching over his quivering frame. Instinctively I count his breaths per minute; a habit born from his sickest moments when his little heart held us all captive. His breathing is fine and so I think I must be able to rule out any involvement with the heart. Surely this illness is the flu - not endocarditis - not anything that could be fatal if treatment is delayed.
I pull up Google and type in his symptoms - never a good idea (unless you fluke out and actually diagnosis something that needs immediate attention - like, oh I don't know - a heart defect!) Meningitis comes up and I am alarmed anew. His neck isn't stiff though, and he's not screaming in pain! Surely then I can rule this out as well? I Google symptoms for endocarditis and I curse how vague all these diseases are. How can anyone be expected to figure this stuff out? How long should I wait before rushing him to the hospital? Do I wait?
I fret. I count his breaths once more. Still fine, still normal, still "healthy"...
I slam my laptop shut and I stop searching for Zebras.
I decide that the flu seems the most likely culprit and so I decide to sleep next to him in the living room. I wake up four or five times in the night to feed him water, to rub his back and whisper lame assurances.
The morning breaks and he's still sick but not dangerously so. I want to laugh at myself, shake my head at my paranoid worries, but my humour seems to have died during the night - right around the eighth clothing change.
I will always worry about him. Always baby him a little more. Always wonder if I'm doomed somehow to spiral back towards the days when I questioned if he would survive. I think it's the one fear I'll never shake. The dark brooding eyes of death and all that it did to make it's presence known to me is a mark that cannot be scrubbed clean. Some days this is a blessing. I appreciate everything a little more; but there are moments when it's a curse - moments where I have to ask if I'm as lucky as I think I am? Hell, maybe I'm just a fool. A fool to believe I could have it all; miracles and life, love and hope.
Of course we're all fools to believe in such a thing. There's never enough to go around and inversely, sometimes too damn much of it. Time is a fickle beast and you never know what side of the two faced bitch you'll land on. The gift of it or the curse; the moments that were awarded to you, or stolen from you.
But it's just the flu - just the flu - and so I am still counting and living with all the time I have been given. Its gift to me - at least for now.
And for now, it is enough. Zebras be damned.