Oh, my. Made it through the messy rush of getting the March-April issue to the printer two weeks ago Friday, then got a call from Reeve Saturday—saying he’d just finished the last of his opera performances and had a high fever and what should he do?
Thus began a week of anxious phone calls and Skype sessions. Stomach flu. Fever. Diarrhea. Anxiety. Difficulty breathing. Sleeplessness. (On both sides of the ocean.) And the awareness (also on both sides of the ocean) that over-the-phone mothering is a poor substitute for the real thing.
Alone in his spinning bed in his room on the fourth floor in downtown Glasgow. Trying to figure out whom he could ask for help, which friends and flat-mates could run to the store and get him analgesic, antacid, chicken broth, ginger ale.
Insert here a modern-day tale of across-the-miles and right-next-door technology: At one point several days into it, Reeve thought maybe he should try to eat something but didn’t feel he could ask another favor of the same classmates he had asked before. Earlier that day, he posted his status on Facebook as “really ill.” While I was talking with Reeve via Skype, I noticed that the Albanian student in the room next to his, Miranda, had commented on his status, saying he should let her know if he needed anything. When I suggested he ask Miranda for help, he said he couldn’t, he didn’t have her phone number and wasn’t sure it was in good form to bang on the wall. I reminded him he could contact her via Facebook. He did, and she brought him soup right away.
Finally, he started feeling better, but then, as he emerged from the week of sickness, wobbly but lucid, talk turned to that midterm music history essay that was due TODAY, unless he produced the doctor’s excuse required for an extension. Only problem there: he hadn’t known doctor’s excuses were necessary, hadn’t gone to the doctor during the week he was sick. (“I’m an American—we don’t go to the doctor for the flu!”) But, since he didn’t have an essay and really needed the extension, he made a trip to the doctor’s office and begged, pleading ignorance of the system. The kindly doc said something to the effect of “This is not the way we usually do things, but just this once. . .” and produced the excuse.
So then there were the many and long conversations about the paper, the first major one required of him this year. “I can’t do this! I’ll never get this done. I’m an idiot!” Seeing his life in ruins before him, etc. But bit by bit, he got there, finally found aspects of the topic to get excited about and got it done. And managed to get in a full night’s sleep before turning it in.
So now, finally, all is calm. The magazine made it to the press on time. Reeve weathered the flu and got back on his feet by himself, with a little help from his new friends. Got excused from classes retroactively, got his paper written and turned in on time. . .
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