Being sick on Christmas is not fun. (Yes, that's the kind of profound wisdom you have come to expect from this blog. For free too.)
Mark was sick on Christmas. At first we blamed him for obscene candy and cookie consumption of the night before. That's why you're sick, Mark.
Except it wasn't.
Because it turned out to be contagious.
When your children are sick, you clean up after them. You change sheets, you do laundry, you lecture them for standing in the middle of the carpet to throw up, but you scrub it up stoically.
Because they're yours. You love them. In sickness and in health.
We didn't know what to do about Mark on Christmas day when we all were supposed to convene at Grandma Geri's for what is arguably the most Christmas fun in town. I said I should stay home with him because it was Adam's family and he should be able to be with them. Adam said he should stay home with him because he was sick on Christmas once when he was a little boy and made his mom miss Christmas fun so he owes it to the universe to repay the debt.
Geri said to just bring Mark.
So we did.
He was asleep so I took the older (still healthy at that point) two and Adam stayed home to do the dishes and joined us after Mark woke up and had a bath.
Sitting in the family room at Geri's, surrounded by...you know, family, someone commented on how quiet it was.
"Because Mark's not here," Brian said.
"He makes that much noise?" Stacy asked.
Later, when Adam brought Mark, he went straight upstairs to the den. He nestled in a leather recliner with a blanket and watched the Disney channel. Adam, Braeden, Emma and I took turns sitting with him. Other family members popped their heads in from time to time to say hello. When we chatted online with Whitney and Kelly in Atlanta, they wanted to see Mark too so I carried the laptop upstairs so they could lay eyes on his peaked little face.
Braeden had sickbed duty so I went downstairs partway during Christmas bingo. Scott gave me the gadget he'd won. "For Mark," he said.
Mark knew it was almost time for presents so he came downstairs. Braeden gave him the Sprite he'd won in bingo and Mark sipped it and sat quietly next to me.
Geri had a game for us to play. Candy was involved and the Mike and Ikes were in high demand. Jackson won the red box of Mike and Ikes. He brought it over, for Mark. Mark asked, "Is there still the blue box?" I shushed him.
"Be happy Jackson gave you these," I whispered.
Later, Talia came over with the blue box. "Mark can have these," she said. I put them in our bag, for later.
When it was finally time for presents, Mark still sat by me. Usually he scampers around delivering gifts to everyone. Brian said, "Mark, can you just run across the room a couple of times? For me?"
Mark just groaned.
Everyone missed the usual Mark, the one we're always telling to calm down and sit still.
The next day Mark was mostly back to being Mark and Braeden fell hard. In the afternoon he went to take a nap. Mark went too. He came back downstairs and said, "Braeden's asleep. I didn't really need a nap, I just decided to stay there until he went to sleep. In case he needed me."
You don't just have your spouse in sickness and health, you have a family.
Families can be welcoming, funny, and generous. They cheer you on your way and welcome you back home. They are imperfect and can be disappointing. But when someone is sick, when you have a man down, sometimes they really show their true colors.