mags and dad

My sixteen year-old daughter Maggie woke us up at 1AM this morning. She was nauseous and feverish and I knew that one of us would have to stay home with her today rather than go in to teach. I decided that it would be my turn.

As bad as I knew Maggie felt, I went back to sleep actually looking forward to spending a day at home with my little girl…a day in which I could be with, and take care of, the teenager that many times pushes me away.

I have never minded staying at home when my kids are sick; I am all too aware that these days are fleeting. My kids will be turning twenty, seventeen, and thirteen in the next few weeks. The unexpected gift of a day to spend quality time with your child is to be treasured, I know.


I woke up with a start around 4AM about a month ago. An idea that may have been in my dreams that night immediately jumped into my conscious mind and practically rolled off my lips as my wife lay asleep next to me.

“The blessing of illness,” I said to myself, “the blessing of illness.”

Seriously.  The thought was so clear.  I know because I wrote it down in the dark that morning so I wouldn’t forget it.  It was an odd notion, this idea that being sick could be viewed as a blessing. But that’s where I had come to be over the previous two months.

Since mid-December, I have been suffering from the sudden onset of constant daily headaches. There have been other symptoms and setbacks, but the headaches have been the worst. I have been seeing all of the appropriate specialists and have received test results that rule out the worst of possible scenarios. That’s all good. But the headaches persist and are not going away.

I have made big and small changes to my lifestyle in an attempt to gain control over these headaches, and hopefully make them go away for good. It hasn’t worked yet, but the very act of making these changes must be what caused me to come to that dreamlike epiphany – that being sick can actually be a blessing.

For the past three months, I’ve made note of all of the positive changes I have made in my life. Among my favorites:

  • I am eating healthier foods and regularly exercising three times a week
  • I read and reflect for one hour in the quietness before dawn every morning
  • I have developed an outlook of gratitude toward others
  • I am focusing on being “with” loved ones and valuing the time we have together
  • I am managing job stress much, much better
  • I am more aware of others and what they might be going through

Sure, I wish my headaches were gone, but I wouldn’t give up any of these changes in my life now that I’ve made them.

The blessing of illness isn’t something I’ve ever read about or heard anywhere. I did an online search just to check and see. The concept has been around; it’s out there. There are sites that link this concept to several different faiths and spiritual paths, but it is totally new to me. I’m glad it came to me in the middle of the night.

Today, I get to stay at home and take care of my sick daughter. As I make soup for Maggie and refill her glass with ginger ale, we’ll binge watch a few Grey’s Anatomy episodes together. I’ll remember her as the little girl that once needed her Dad more than she seems to today, and she might see me as someone she doesn’t need to push away from quite as much as she thinks she does. And I’ll deal with my headaches and try to be awake when the next blessing comes my way.


12 thoughts on “Awakening

  1. Love your view on illness — and you are so right! An illness is a gift that prepares our hearts and minds to slow down in this moment. There may be something more to the illness (hope your headaches reside soon) and it may just be time with a loved one. I hope you and your daughter enjoy this gift today and everyone is feeling better quickly!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey. Although I am a sorry to hear of the reasons that you have slowed down and discovered this idea, it is wonderful that you have found a better you in the process. Hang on to every moment with your Maggie. I bet she will relish the time as do you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wise post – I never thought about illness being a blessing; but I certainly can see the truth in that. I share your respect for a sick day, stolen moments with a child you know is growing up much faster than you expected. My boys are 14 and 16!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lori – I just read your three most recent posts on your galleystreet blog. I couldn’t get my comments to post.

      I really love your poem “Years from Now”! Here’s what I wanted to post:

      This is a beautiful poem. I love the structure and your use of repetition. The details you include took me back to my childhood and being in the homes of my grandparents. Thanks for your sharing this!

      Any advice for navigating blogspot’s comments section?


  4. Such a timely post for me to read as I have been with my daughter since last Friday when she had surgery. I too appreciate the time to slow down and be with her. You are right, it is a blessing. Thanks for sharing your perspective on what could be considered a nuisance for a teacher. Hope the headaches begin to subside.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comments and for your support. Just read you post about your daughter’s surgery. I hope her recovery is going well. You captured well the tension and worry that come along with that moment when you hand over your child for surgery.


  5. Thanks for this. I have a 20 month old son. Every day that I can spend with him feels precious. I can’t imagine him ever being a teenager, but your writing helped me to glimpse it. I’m glad you can find blessings in an illness and share them with us. At least, I’ll be approaching the whole thing differently from now on.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Never having been a parent, I can’t begin to imagine what it must feel like to have a sick child. You gave me a glimpse into that world today. There is worry over the illness and joy at spending time together if the illness isn’t too bad. I hope you find some resolution to the headaches, but I appreciated your take on facing illness.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for sharing this. I truly believe illness can be a blessing in disguise. It forces us to stop and re-evaluate our lives and what it is truly important. Treasure every moment with your family and I hope they figure out what is causing your headaches.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You nailed it. If we are aware, if we are lucky, if we are READY…then illness forces us to stop and re-evaluate our lives and what is truly important. You’ve said it perfectly. Therein lies the blessing. Thanks for your support too!


  8. Illness or other disruptions to our “normal” lives seem to make us look at what we’re doing and how we’re handling life. Hope your headaches fade away and that the day with your daughter will be one that will be cherished by both of you. These times pass by quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

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