“Go to bed Jude. You didn’t get much sleep last night and you worked all day today.”
“When was the last time you got any sleep?” he asked bleary eyed.
“I’m fine. I’ve got my second wind.”
Jude snorted. “I just don’t see how you can still be operating on so little sleep.”
“That’s because I’m not moving engines and stuff around all day.”
“No, you’ve just been carrying Corey in that sling for two days straight.”
“It’s carry him or have him start crying which will start him coughing again. I swear if I didn’t know better I would say this is whooping cough the way it sounds but the kids have all their vaccinations. I’ve even got proof. But Rochelle said there’s cases of it all over. She said it isn’t whooping cough but some kind of virus that mimics it a bit. A baby died of it last night.”
“I heard. And it’s in town too. Sky high fever and then the coughing that doesn’t want to stop. I guess boiling that honey and then watering it down is the only way you could give it to Corey.” He was referring to the fact that you aren’t supposed to give honey to children under two or three; some people even say under four just to be safe.
“Yes and it still scared me to do it but that cough and how awful his throat looked scared me worse. I mixed a little horehound in it and it seemed to soothe him. At the very least he has stopped fighting me when I try and get him to drink. What I wouldn’t give for some ginger ale right now. I’ve got to get some made up so I can have it in the future if I need it.”
“You know how to make soda pop? I haven’t had any in so long I think I’ve forgotten how it tastes.”
“It was one of Mom’s hot buttons. She made soda for us so that she knew what was in it and could control the sugar and stuff. Sometimes she brewed her own … like rootbeer and dark colas. The fruity or lighter stuff she either added soda water to or blew in CO2 from the old syphon. I found the soda syphon and several cases of chargers last week. Mom could be really picky about some stuff.”
He ran into the door frame trying to follow me into the kitchen. I turned around and pushed him back towards his room. “Go … to … bed. You’re starting to get silly.”
“Hmmph. Ok, but you gotta promise …”
“Jude. Go. To. Bed. I’m fine now that Corey’s fever has broken. I swear he has drenched me again. I’m going to get him to drink some more and then more than likely, if he’ll settle, I’ll sit in the rocker in front of the fire with that big kettle of water going and we’ll both doze. I just want to fill this little kettle again before I forget.”
I watched Jude stumble to bed and breathed a sigh of relief. I worried he was going to get sick with it too. Both Butch and Clewis have a nasty cough and Uncle Roe seemed to be getting one until Rochelle dosed him with a lot of Vitamin D and Vitamin C. I was surprised that Uncle Roe was so compliant until I heard that Rochelle had told him that he could give it to the kids if they weren’t already sick with it. Boo is very sick and may have been who brought it in as the blacksmith he is working with had his whole family come down with whatever this crud is. Neither Lorne nor Rochelle has gotten it yet and it is a wonder considering the fact that they are both all over the place looking in on people to make sure no one is about to die. Rochelle is the one that had to hold that baby when it passed as the young mother had to be sedated. She didn’t have too many nice words for the mother as she hadn’t been much of one before the baby got sick … sometimes you find out too late what you have I guess. Rick and Wendalene coughed for about half a day, spit up some gunk, and that was it. I haven’t even had a tickle in my throat. The only one sick here is Corey.
I wouldn’t admit it to Jude but I’m exhausted. Corey is no lightweight lately as he’s getting to be nearly two-years old. He’s going to be taller than Mimi in record time if he keeps this up, of course she is small for her age as is Tiff … their height is likely hereditary. Corey is still a little behind in some areas like his hand eye coordination but he is getting better and loves the big duplo blocks that used to be Paulie’s at that age. But I’m not going to make the same mistake those doctors did. There’s nothing wrong with Corey, he is just excelling in some areas and not in others.
He potty trained real easy considering he’s a boy but he’s been so miserable sick I wound up having to put a cloth diaper on him and that seemed to make him more miserable however being peed on once was enough for me. I didn’t shame him of course but you would have thought I was abusing him the way he threw a fit. I wound up having to pull his little underwear up over the diaper to get him to stop being so upset. He’s still pulls at it so just as soon as I’m sure he can sit on the pot without falling over I’m going to put the diapers away again. Kids are so funny about things, I swear.
He wouldn’t take a sippy cup either. But for that I don’t think it upset him to use something he’d outgrown so much as the sucking really hurt his throat. I wound up having to spoon my special comfort tea into him; tea made from poultry seasoning. Rochelle has started passing the recipe around and joy of joys I heard today that it seems to be helping. I told Rochelle that it was the thyme primarily that was doing the work but that the rosemary and marjoram didn’t hurt to help it along.
I was rocking Corey who was completely asleep for the first time in a while when steps on the stairs had me cracking one eye open. It was Tiffany.
I was scared to ask. “Are you sick? Anyone else up there?”
“No. I just needed to know how Corey is.”
I noticed she said needed and not wanted. “Corey is fine. Go on up to bed and get some rest.”
“Is … is he gonna be ok? I heard Aunt Rochelle say a baby died.”
Upset that Tiff had overheard that I told her, “Corey is gonna be fine. That baby died mostly because the mother hadn’t been doing what she was supposed to.”
“Is that what happened to Baby? The mother was like that?”
It had been so long since any of the kids had mentioned Baby that I paused before answering. “I’m not sure why Baby was left like he was Tiff. All I know is that I couldn’t do what it required to make him all better.”
“But you can for Corey?”
Understanding dawning I said, “Yeah. Corey just has a virus, this isn’t something he was born with.”
“Do you think Baby is OK … that he’s still … you know …”
“Alive? Yes, yes I do. I’ve got a peace about that.”
“I wish I did. Sometimes …”
I pointed to the sofa after glancing at her feet to make sure she had socks on. “Sometimes what?” I asked her after she sat down.
“Sometimes I have bad dreams. I dream we are back in that bad place only you all are sick with the T-virus … all of you. Baby is there too. I’m the only one not sick and I don’t know what to do.”
“Sometimes I have bad dreams too. Those kind of dreams are your mind expressing worries you can’t talk out yet. You wanna talk about it?”
She shook her head. “No. Not … not yet. But, you … you promise Corey is going to be ok?”
“Yep, it’s just going to take a little bit and we’re going to have to be careful he doesn’t get in a draft and catch a chill and relapse. I took care of your guys when all of you had the sniffles didn’t I?”
“You don’t die from the sniffles,” she said with absolute logic.
She looked so uncertain I asked, “You wanna stay down here?”
“No ‘cause they’re waiting on me to come back.”
“They’re …? Are you telling me they are all awake up there?”
“Yeah. We were all wondering.”
“Well get back upstairs and tell everyone that everything is just fine. Corey is sick but he’s gonna get well and that I expect all of y’all to be asleep toot sweet. Understand?”
She went back upstairs and I could just barely hear a little bit of talk but it was quiet again within five minutes. Wasn’t long after that that I was asleep myself.