Day 20 – This is How We Know God is Mindful of Us

On August 28th, my wife lost her job. 24 hours later, I lost mine. This blog is a continuation of the day-by-day chronicling of our emotional journey back to employment. This is bound to be upsetting, hilarious and hopeful.

Wednesday – September 17, 2014

044-044-TheGoodSamaritan-full
The Good Samaritan. One of my very favorite parables.

Erin’s body does not deal with stress well. When she was a kid, she was ill a lot, earning her the nickname Illy McIllerson (as of this very moment). Now that she’s an adult it’s not as bad, but her body is prone to waving the white flag now and again, and forcing her into bed. This is what happened this morning. So, once again, I had to take the single dad role. And, this time, the nurse role.

I’m not completely terrible at this. If there was money in being a substitute mom, I wouldn’t feel bad taking it. I managed to get the kids to all the places they needed to go, do some job applying, write, and even pick up a friend’s kid from school and set him up with some video games at our place (after he’d completed his homework, of course). That was the easy stuff. The hard stuff was helping Erin get better.

We’ve decided to elect COBRA to extend our health insurance coverage, but we haven’t actually paid the premiums yet (my foreign friends, you are so very lucky). Neither Erin nor I wanted to deal with doctors and try to explain our situation, but something had to be done because Erin only got worse as the day went on. Thankfully, the doctor was just fine with calling in a prescription without actually seeing Erin (this is how often she gets sinus infections–the drill is known).

I went to Target to pick up the medicine while Erin slept. Without COBRA, we’d have to pay full price for the prescription. Okay, whatever. Erin was tired of feeling crummy and I didn’t care how much it cost. I hate seeing her suffer. I looked it up and the most we’d pay would be $50 for her particular antibiotic. Not great, but doable.

The incredibly nice young woman at the pharmacy counter (I’ll call her Shirley because I know no one by that name–I’m not even sure it’s a real name, quite frankly) looked up our name and found another prescription for me to pick up–Cami’s anti-seizure meds. She helpfully rang it all up for me.

I didn’t say a word. Secretly, I was hoping our insurance had screwed up and we were still on the plan. It was a remote, illogical possibility, but it only took Shirley a moment to explore so I let it happen.

Shirley scanned Cami’s meds. $216. “Oh no,” she said. “That’s not right!”

“No, no,” I said. “That’s right. That’s what I expected.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, we lost our jobs a couple of weeks ago and COBRA hasn’t kicked in, so–”

“I HAVE A COUPON!”

Shirley ran away from me, over to some drawer I couldn’t see, and rifled through it. When she came back, she punched some numbers into the computer and announced that she’d gotten Cami’s meds down to $30 and Erin’s antibiotic down to $16. I barely knew how to react. The guy behind me in line said “That was awesome.” I nodded towards him as if to say “Yes, guy in line, that was awesome.”

“Thank you,” I said to Shirley. Over and over again.

“It’s my pleasure,” she said. “We get these coupons from the pharmaceutical companies to use when there’s a need. You’re one of our regulars, we gotta take care of you.”

This is going to sound weird, but if you’ve read this far I think you’re with me on this: I’m really grateful Erin is sick a lot.

* * *

We keep getting little (and big) blessings like this. A friend and former co-worker stopped by today with a gift card. He didn’t have to do that, but he did and it’s just more evidence to us that God is mindful of us. This is usually how God is mindful of all of us: through other people. I have to think, because of that, we’re not being set up for a fall here. He’s propping us up right now as signs that He is there and is guiding us towards what we need to overcome this particular trial.

Now, the reverse could be true. He could be showing up because He knows it’s only going to get worse from here on out and He doesn’t want us to be alone, but that’s a super depressing thought so I’m going with the other thing.

Why Changing Diapers is a Privilege

The diaper fiends, watching Wall-E on Sunday afternoon.
The diaper fiends, watching Wall-E on Sunday afternoon.

Erin has been sick this weekend, which leaves me in charge. I don’t mind being in charge, of course, because I love my kids and I’d rather they didn’t die for want of a competent adult. Also, Erin works hard and deserves a break. I suppose she thinks so too and could be feigning illness to achieve said break, but I’d rather believe the scented bubble baths and long, middle-of-the-day naps are for recuperative purposes than some other treacherous reason.

My mom tells me Dad never changed a diaper once. Four boys, not one diaper. On the one hand, that sounds like pleasantly scented heaven. On the other, that’s kind of messed up. Changing diapers is an awful task. Just look at any character in a movie ever who changes a diaper. It’s always presented as the very worst thing a person could be asked to do. It reduces high-powered professionals into all-thumbs morons (see: The Family Man, Jersey Girl, countless others I’m sure).

The truth is changing diapers really isn’t that big a deal. Very few things you do hundreds of times are. Where’s the movie where the parent undresses the kid halfway, removes the old smelly diaper, wipes her clean, applies the new diaper and puts the clothes back on without missing a step on the way up the Lincoln Monument to defuse the bomb? Because that’s how it goes down in my house. More or less.

So, I’ve changed a lot of diapers this weekend. Honestly, besides the foul odor and (forgive me for this) the sludge, I see it as a privilege. There’s very few things in my kids’ lives I can just fix with ease and confidence. Sometimes, they cry and I don’t know why. Cami, my middle daughter with special needs, has a host of problems I don’t know anything about and she has no way to tell me. But her diaper? Yeah, I can fix that. Every time. My success rate? 100%.

It’s only going to get worse as they get older. Crud, with my oldest daughter (long out of diapers), it already has. Every day she has a problem at school or with the new emotions that go along with growing up that I just can’t do a thing about. I’m there for her, I listen to her, but my ability to correct the negative situations in her life is diminishing.

It’s been a good weekend. I like spending time with my girls. Cami isn’t feeling too great either so there’s probably been a bit more movie watching than should be allowed, but that’s okay. Movies make her happy and calm. They’re like a more entertaining version of a clean diaper. I’ll put on a genuine smile and give my kids clean diapers all day long if I have to, for as long as I can.