Last week, I wrote about my struggle to help my 13-year-old daughter find a Halloween costume that was fun, but not too sexy. It was no easy task. But in the end, it was a non-issue: The kid never went trick or treating.
Instead, she spent Halloween on the couch, with a fever and an awful case of the flu.
It was a scary six days in our house.
At 13 -- and sometimes, sadly, at 30 and 40 -- we're so busy thinking about all the ways our bodies don't measure up to whatever standard we hold in our heads as "perfect" that we sometimes fail to appreciate the simple pleasure and value of good health.
Normally, I'm the kind of mom who'll talk about anything, and I don't typically shy away from tough or embarrassing topics when talking to my kids. I'm a firm believer that knowledge is power, and that being truthful is the best course of action. But last week, I hid something from my daughter.
The night before my daughter got really sick, a healthy, athletic 12-year-old girl in the next town over died from the swine flu virus. The next morning, I took the front page of the newspaper with that girl's story and picture splashed across it, and hid it in the stack of recycling.
I just couldn't even go there.
But later that morning, as I was making her cocoa in the kitchen and she lay on the couch watching the TODAY show, I heard the local newscaster break in with a report on the little girl. Two seconds later, I heard my daughter's feet on the floor and when I turned around, there she stood, tears on her face and absolute terror in her eyes.
I hugged her, and just kept saying, "It's OK. You're OK," over and over again.
There's an ending of innocence that comes when you realize that people your age can, and do, die. I fear I watched that moment happen in my kitchen last week.
She's healthy now, back to school and friends and activities, and I'm incredibly grateful for that. My heart goes out to each and every parent who's worried about a sick child, or dealing with an unthinkable loss.
Sure, you may not always be happy with the way you look or the way your clothes fit or the way you feel other people perceive you. But if you're healthy -- and if those you love are healthy -- today's the day to stop and take a moment, right now, to say thanks.