Thursday, August 18, 2011


Its been the time of  fevers in our house for the last couple of weeks. No doubt its linked to the time of year, a new school, new viruses.

I took my thirteen year old daughter into my bed the other night, like my mother did before me. L had to sleep on the sofa, or her bed. He opted for the sofa, her bed being one large knot of blankets and sheets. We extricated her from the tangle like from the tendrils of some tropical plant. Her fever was so high she was hot to the touch. I watched over her all night, whilst she tossed and turned and muttered strange delirious strings of poetic words.

I was a very feverish child myself. I think I ran a fever with every virus I had. I also had illnesses like tick bite fever, hepatitis and my sister the deadly encephalitis. My mother tended us both faithfully, folding cloths soaked in vinegar and laying them across our brows.

 Some illnesses I came home for, having left some lover who proved unable to tend to me. My mother changed my soaked sheets and pajamas as faithfully as if I was still a young child.
 I sailed the seas of my fevers like a drunken sailor, muttering muddled thoughts through parched and thirsty lips. Indeed, the days after a fever feel like those of a man who still has his sea legs on dry land, with a rolling gait and a far away horizon in his sights.

Rudolph Steiner has a thing or two to say about fevers I believe.
 I spent some time at a Waldorf School, my son in the Nursery and me in an office. The fantasy world of washed through purple and lilacs and pinks coloured both our worlds willingly. No nightmares there I found, only a dreaminess, and a welcome escape from the harsh reality of the divorce we were enduring at the time.

I think my son had some fevers then, And I, comforted by some dear women, almost 'brides of Steiner' I fondly remember, rode those fevers with him. The Waldorf world has no fear of fevers. They are seen as necessary times of travel, of journeys almost, to the other side. Times when 'we can truly be ourselves.'
And, when they, the fevers pass, we awake afresh to a new, bright day, alive with possibilities.
 I do remember that feeling.

In those Waldorf days I was wracked with pain mostly, emotional, spiritual and physical. My body was bent double often then, with the passing of  agonizing gall stones, so 'galled' was I with an individual, I suppose. Our bodies do, it seems patently clear, mirror our minds and our emotions.

So, very healthy now, my thoughts have turned to illness.
 I watch my husbands eyes grow bleary and red rimmed, watery, his pupils like two swimming fish in bowls, when he is sick and tired. Those fish flash their tails at me, like warning flags of approaching  illness. Stress does it too.
 He hardly remembers having a fever - only I do, nursing him once through the high temperatures of pneumonia, when he made the transition from bachelorhood to me and mine. That was a long bridge to cross.

No doubt my daughter has made it over some high suspended crossing with this latest illness of hers. It is a time of change for her in body, mind, place and face. I remember her as a baby, emerging from fevers to reach another milestone. She took a sudden step, uttered a clear loud word, slept through or tossed a bottle aside for a sippy cup.
And never looked back.

In my nursing days I held many a hand whilst feverish eyes flickered and bodies shook and sweated and fought that within which needed to be dealt with. I felt I might have steadied them as they made some crossing.
I left some folk after a fever. Some left me before.
All I know is something changes with a fever.
Something new begins.

1 comment:

  1. You make the world a beautiful place with your words.....even fevers are beautiful now! Lots of love xxx