Far far away in the Land of Us there lived a worn and wrinkly Princess.
Let's call her Helena, shall we?
Princess Helena, or Mum, as the kingdom lovingly called her, was stuck in the Tower of Unwell. She'd been trapped there for ages and ages and ages and ages. Like, for 11 whole days. Her hair had grown longer (at least longer than it had been 11 days ago). She lay in her bed and gazed out at the trees and the clouds. She longed to be free of the dreaded curse that had been placed on her, in the form of virusey greeblies invading her system. Those greeblies were having a full-on extended vacation, it seemed. She swore she could hear them giggling from her lungs and throat where they'd set up deckchairs, where they were drinking pina coladas and doing bombs in the pool.
On day 4, a Monday, she lay on the bed, and called faintly for help. Her voice was trembly, her face pale. Imagine the swoony putting of hand to the forehead and some pitiful moaning.
"How are you going today, Mum? Still sick?" said a fair Prince from the doorway.
"You need something, Mum?" said a wee Princess bounding up behind him.
Both little ones came up and gave Princess Helena a soft peck on the cheek.
Ah, that was nice. Made her feel a teensy bit better straightaway.
Kids decided to keep Princess Helena company that day, and every day. Books were brought up to bed, and read as the hours became days became week-and-a-half. The cats scooched up close, purring and their paws intermingled.
One extra-special day, the maths books were brought up, and the term
was coined. Now that was a sweet day.
Princess Helena wasn't always in bed in her tower. Sometimes she had to go out,
to Lego League and to band practice and art class. She brought the tower of Unwell with her—it floated along, with her encased inside. Behind its invisible walls and from its hopeless height she coughed pathetically in chairs and on couches.
Princess Helena even made it to a show on Friday night, to see a music film and concert with her children. It had been on the calendar for months—there was no missing this one. And the film was so magical and so extraordinary she forgot for a while that she was unwell. It was about music and about the Spirit—two things dear and close to the Princess's heart.
Her children breathed it in. When the Princess brought the little Princess home early, they said together, How wonderful! How beautiful! And that night, her girl fell deeply asleep before Princess Helena had even said a proper goodnight.
On Saturday morning, with the tower slinking along silently, and the greeblies tittering behind their hands, she made it to another concert.
This one, was the young Prince's first solo jazz recital. Accompanied by his father, the King of Tunes and Grins and Assorted Loveliness.
This was worth lifting oneself up from bed for.
Look at the joy on the Prince's face. Look at how he smiles as he plays!
And then the Tower called again, hit hard immediately after the concert.
Straight to bed for Princess Helena.
It was worst on Sunday. Which was the day the Princess felt rotten. And sad too, because it was a day of remembering sad things. She crept into sorrow and sat with it. She allowed herself to feel it, because as the film said, and as she knew, a little, already:
"On the other side of suffering, is happiness."
She took her asthma puffer hour after hour and tried simply to breathe. She felt. Big and deep and oh, so very much.
And that night? She slept through the night for the first time in days.
Which brings us to today.
Today the Princess is finally on antibiotics.
Today the sun is shining.
Today the young Prince and wee Princess (not so wee; she's almost 9 after all! But bear with me; I'm almost done) are watching Kung Fu Panda on the Tower television. The Prince has a very sore throat (oh no's!) and together they are drinking super juice. Spinach, carrot, orange, pear and apple (or just home-made lemonade if you're a much-bigger-than-wee Princess).
Today the King took the morning off work to do the grocery shopping. (Thank you so much, mr beautiful).
Today the sickness greeblies are beginning to sound worried. Not so much tittering. Not so much dancing by the pool.
Today the Princess imagines them scurrying about. Sorting their belongings, finding suitcases, scrabbling in their pockets for directions to the next Tower, and a tip for the drinks waiter.
Today is day 12. The day after 11 and before 13.
Or day 1.
Depending on how you see such things.