A fever breaks a lengthy to-do list; a fever watched never breaks.
As I sit with offers of ice water, slushy juice and teaspoons of broth I second guess waiting for our three-year-old’s fever to break. Perhaps I should pull open the doors of our medicine cabinet and suppress it? I’d given acetaminophen hours earlier and found the fever responsive. This tells me it’s another around-town bug and nothing too serious. In my heart I want her body to fight it off and emerge from her blankie’s tangles stronger than before.
As I sit beside her stinging self, all known lullabies have been sung so my mind moves through memorized verse:
From “Fever 103” by Sylvia Plath
…I am a lantern —-
My head a moon
Of Japanese paper, my gold beaten skin…
Does not my heat astound you. And my light.
All by myself I am a huge camellia
Glowing and coming and going, flush on flush…
Her skin pink, her body aches. Her fever holds steady past twelve hours. I know in my heart fevers are too beneficial to be reduced. A fever reboots an immune system and charges it into high gear. With my first born as testament, I believe a fever can help a child’s development, or at the very least signal an impending milestone. In our home, a fever has always preceded first steps and first teeth, first words spoken and first words read.
Be well the senses I tell myself and tidy the room around her. I fluff her pillows, pull taut her blankies. Yesterdays vase of roses becomes her focal point on a couch-side table. A bit of reorganizing before her next developmental leap forward. I wake her to drink and sip and gulp.
I watch her sleep and can’t help but think this little girl, this middle child of mine with the spunky soul, is so sweet when sick. Or maybe it’s just that in still moments like these I can really breathe her all in.
Somewhere in the space between afternoon and night, she wakes sweaty and vibrant.
Mama, I have to pee and her hurried pattern of bare feet is music to my ears.