My Sleeping Angels – Holding Hands
Were it not for the tragic events that happened in Boston yesterday this would probably be another ranty post about the horrible day we’ve had; how I’m sick of (what I now take to be) Flu and sky-high temperatures, flushed cheeks, pale husband and endless snot.
How I want to lie in bed and be ill and feel sorry for myself. Or else yell at everyone for the fact that it has to be me that’s last person standing, even though I’m barely able to remain upright. How my head feels like a vice is clamped to it and there are nails through my sinuses. How the kids have gone from whiny-cuddly to mad energy and back as quickly as the clouds blowing over our house.
All those things are true.
My Precious Boy
But, when I logged on this morning, and read about the horrific events that ended the Boston Marathon, none of that mattered any more. My sister and her family live close to Boston. Thankfully they’re all fine. How many families are not fine, though? How many families wish the worst they had to deal with was a flu virus, some back ache and shivering? I made the mistake of clicking on Twitter photo links without fully understanding what had happened. I saw images that will haunt me because I tend to shield myself from horror. The bane of a writer’s life (and a parent’s life I guess) is far too vivid an imagination. Those could be my kids. My husband. My family.
The posts that have helped today (all listed below) are the ones that don’t talk of revenge: they talk of making a difference. We can’t necessarily help the families across the pond who are suffering. But we can help people around us. Begin small. I tried to keep my temper today and look after my family, grateful that they are mine to hold. Tomorrow I will look wider. Try to help someone near me, even if it’s buying a Big Issue or donating to a homeless shelter. We can all make a difference, we can all turn our back on hate and bring good to the world. Of course we want the people who did such a thing to be brought to justice, but hatred breeds hatred. There is enough darkness in the world: we must strive to find and bring forth the light.
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
Claire reached for her phone and blinked until she could focus on the time. 4.07am.
“Urgh, seriously? Surely it must be morning already?” Her voice, made rough by dryness, sounded strange in the silence. She felt around until her hand clasped the bottle of water by the bed. Once the sand-paper in her throat was soothed, she rolled over and slid a hand onto Sky’s brow. It burned. The girl’s hair was matted and damp with sweat and Claire resisted the urge to find her hair brush and restore the bird’s nest back to its normal glossy mane. Tangled hair is the least of my worries.
Rolling back over, she felt on the bedside table for the in-ear thermometer the woman in the room next door had lent her for the night. I have no idea why someone brings a piece of kit like this on holiday, but I’m extremely grateful. Taking care not to wake Sky, Claire slid the thermometer into her niece’s ear and pressed the button. The green light flashed bright in the near-dark and the beep – signalling the reading was ready – echoed loudly.
Sky twisted her head away and coughed. Claire held her breath, praying she would go back to sleep. The girl shifted restlessly, kicking at the sheet wrapped around her legs. At last she was still and Claire felt able to shine her phone at the thermometer to take a reading. 38.8C. She knew from reading the NHS website that anything over 39 was cause for concern. Claire sank back against the pillows and tried to think. Her own head felt muggy. Please don’t let me get sick too.
A quick calculation informed her she could give Sky more Calpol if she wanted. But that would mean waking her up, even with the handy syringe the lovely lady with the baby had lent her. My first stop tomorrow is to a chemist. There’s obviously a reason why mothers carry such a well-stocked first aid kit with them. I wonder why Ruth didn’t provide one? A mental image of the last time she saw her sister flashed into her head.
Poor Ruth, she wasn’t thinking much of anything. Besides, I don’t suppose they venture more than ten miles from home. From what I can gather she and Sky have never been on holiday. Shifting up, so she could sit against the headboard, Claire thought that was probably wise: Travelling with children was nerve-wracking and Ruth was a nervous parent at the best of times.
Something stabbed deep beneath Claire’s ribcage, like cramp. She analysed the pain and realised it was guilt. They probably couldn’t afford to go on holiday, from what Sky has told me. I never realised things were so tough. Her planned trip to the Maldives seemed like an unholy extravagance. When this is over, and Ruth is better, I’m going to take my sister and niece somewhere nice. Warm and Sunny. Five-star. Room service. She looked at the sleeping child. Medics. Baby sitters. A fully-stocked bar.