A couple of weeks ago my daughter and I had a conversation. It went thus;
Mama, I don’t want to stay at preschool the whole day today. I’m tired.
Would you like me to ask if they could make a den for you so you can rest?
No. I can look after myself.
On hearing her words, I laughed to myself and thought, yes, you certainly can!
She’s very much like me in character. Independent, knows herself well, enjoys being in command of her world and my learning deepens each day of when to step forward and when to step back with her growth. But a question often lingers within. My own independence as a child manifested primarily in need to protect myself and I know there’s a keen difference between a child who truly enjoys forging her way forward with a tender gaze from afar and one who longs for a loving hand to hold but feels resigned to going it alone. I try to remain mindful of this, in our daughter’s declarations of self-governance, and make sure I don’t overlook the times when she might be calling for otherwise.
Over the last few days she’s been very poorly and this has been one of those times. Over 48 hours she was was burning with a temperature, pretty much constantly, and stayed in bed throughout. Yet lucid and not feverish, nonetheless it was the most unwell I remember her ever being.
We brought her liquids and medicine and food to nibble on but the majority of the time she simply turned away and pulled the duvet over her head. Mostly she wanted to be by herself and, throughout, I chose to trust her with this.
Then last night she asked me to stay. Gladly, I snuggled up beside her and held her in my arms. We lay together in the quietness and her inwardness and I was honoured to observe her journeying. Four years in age but timeless in spirit, I watched our beautiful girl do all the work she needed to do to come through her firing temperature. Shamanic in nature, I felt her energy from toe to tip and shooting through her crown, move freely and, most significantly, the breadth spiralling outward in the landscape of her mind. As the powerful current through her spine and beyond kept steadily flowing, I could sense her mind in multi-dimensions, conversing with all those she needed to, to bring her through and out of this state. Her raging hot body was integral, not alien, to the process.
She did not cry out but lay in silence, half here, half there, surrendering to something quite incredible traversing it’s way through her being. I lay there in awe and wonderment. And I wondered what I would see in her in the morning. I wondered what we might see fresh in her offerings. What transformation was unfolding and what new knowledge it might bring forth to her, and her to us.
And I thought of us, as older, ‘wiser’ adults. Plundering on each time we’re sick. Getting on, getting under with all that we pile on top of ourselves, literally fighting our body’s summoning to stop. And then getting so sick that we pump ourselves full of chemicals, still in a bid to ‘live’ this life.
Our daughter, these past few days, had us as her fall-back. She didn’t have to be anywhere, do anything, look after children, go to work and she had us to hold the space to enable her to do all the work and undoing she needed whilst unwell. As adults we rarely afford ourselves this luxury. But I dream of the day when we consider and greet illness differently. When we view it as a space to fall into, less get over and conquer. Why do we so easily want to fall in love with someone else but resist falling ill and into ourselves? And, what if we extend our arms and support when those around become unwell and help create this loving, healing space?
If we allow it, illness momentarily untethers us to gravity and enables us to travel through and assimilate worlds beyond now. What I saw in my daughter last night was magnificent to witness. I know of the lands she ventured. They are immense and not to be afraid of. And I am hugely proud that she was fearless in this process and courageous enough to trust her intuitive core in the vast stillness. What I learned last night is that next time a friend is ill, I will do all that I can, if they wish, to hold this simple space for them. So that they can fall and linger here without the need to attend to the seeming daily bricks and mortar of life and uncover the gold in being poorly.
For now, our daughter is curled up on the sofa watching Frozen. Undoubtedly another important factor in healing for four year olds.
Image: Sophie Anderson