I was in the middle of folding some clothes, scooping clothes out of the dryer, sorting them into vague piles, peering up at socks and shirts and warn thru towels. I was wondering, even wandering, which respective pieces were ready for the rag heap. None had. I am kind, and have a variety of uses for holy socks- cleaning coffee tables, warn thru towels- kids don’t get the fluffy ones till they are working fullotime, and dated, faded teeshirts- on many days I totally identify with dated, fading tee-shirts. It would not speak well of my self esteem if I discarded the tee-shirts.

I started coughing, just when I was piling piles on piles. I started coughing so hard,the laundry fell over, cottony, sweet, smelling dominos. I kept coughing and I couldn’t stop.

A call to Sheldon, a lurching trip up the basement stairs, still clutching handfuls of stuff, not sure what. I couldn’t breathe anymore. I couldn’t even cough. My chest was rising and falling and from inside it’s walls were a thousand screeching voices of Whos from Whoville after a very long night hanging out with the cast of Breaking Bad smoking all the meth in the world. It was a nightmare that I don’t remember at all, but I can hear the screams coming from deep inside of me that stung and broke me forward.

I went to the ER. I was admitted around 7 pm. By around midnight, they gave me a bed. I was there from Thursday until tonight, Monday January 20. I am so glad to be home.

Being sick is tough on everyone, and I had the additional challenged presented by being financially struggling mom of two remarkably talented kids. By remarkably talented kids, I’m talking children that collectively belong to three basketball teams, one swim team, one studies flute and the other is working very hard to learn the fine points of skating. The logistics were a nightmare, but with the help of friends, and other moms, who I now consider friends, we got thru it.

But the hardest part for me during every step of the process, was I never really did find out what was wrong and still don’t know. The oxygen saturation in my blood was and still is low. I have a deep growl of a cough lodged in my belly that seems to be hibernating for the season, even when coaxed by Mucinex and Prednizone and nebulizars and prodigious quantities of tea. Today,since my blood is saturated with a little bit more oxygen, my body was allowed to return home I need to make an appointment with a specialist later on in the week.

All this not knowing weighed and weighs heavy.

While I was in the hospital, I sought solace by figuring out how to work my hospital bed. Really, you ask. Really. I had a state of the art hospital bed. It was capable not only of the up and the down that is so popularly advertised on late night tv, but of weighing it’s inhabitant, in this case, me. I was quite worried about chicken patties and cups of custard adding to all of the holiday indulgence, so by Saturday morning, I decided to figure it out. None of the nurses had quite knew how to operate it, or so they said. (There was a regular scale in the room, and there may have been one or two other patients that also needed their attention.) I read some instructions I found in the closet. I figured out how to turn it on. Then, how to zero it out. (This is a pretty important step, what with all of the stuff that piled onto my hospital bed by Saturday morning, and a complicated process. I probably shouldn’t share it because I don’t think the nurses would approve.)

Next, I figured out how to fling my scantily clad body onto the zeroed out bed so that my head fell at just the right angle to read my current weight after I pressed the right button. Finding the right button was another process, and I probably couldn’t find it again, because their were so many damn buttons to choose from. At the end of it all, I can tell you that on Saturday afternoon, at 2;03 pm, I had lost 3.2 pounds, or maybe kilometers, according to my upside down analysis of the numbers since Thursday morning. Approximately.

With that project finished, I turned to some beautiful books my friends had brought. One was “Taking the Leap”, by Pema Chodron. Anne Lamont’s latest, A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair, looked good. But when I went to open them, I realized I wasn’t in the mood for careful meditation, for taking some time to consider what in my life might have led me to a hospital room with oxygen levels that made even the most jaded nurse scowl. Of course, she might have been sick of me fiddling with the equipment.

I wanted to watch Jeopardy. I made phone calls for my work with Quincy College to students who were a little behind in registering for the spring semester. I chatted with orderlies about the best workouts for weight loss, and I told nurses where to find the most outrageous zumba class. I made notes on a recipe for brussel sprouts, angle hair pasta and bacon, then calculated the calories per serving.

Tonight, when I got home, it was wonderfu. Well, the dog was really happy. And the kids smelled really good and told me a couple great stories. But the best part- Colin needed my help with his History Pape. He let me proof read it. I got to visit a world where action verbs are always better and run on sentences are just wrong.

Then the printer wouldn’t work. I fixed it. (The paper was jammed, but it was really really jammed. I had to go in.)

And for the mighty climax, just after I inhaled my kids kisses and glanced at them head up the stairs, I tackled this. The computer. Somehow our Apple had lost it’s way. Diagnostics told me it was no longer connected to the internet.

It took a while. In the past, I’ve ever attempted anything more complicated in regards to computer “repair” than finding the wireless mouse. I am currently connected to the internet.

In these times of uncertainty, when I truly don’t know why I am not breathing easy, for real or as a metaphor for a type of spiritual foreshadowing, I find comfort in making things work. I can’t make my lungs work, I can’t make my kids work, (without causing certain amounts of stress that would probably impact the whole lung part of the equation,) but when I put my mind to it, I can make stuff work. Stuff that I wouldn’t have even attempted before I was temporarily defeated by a pile of laundry, and a choir of nasty sharp whispering gnomes temporarily lodged in my diaphragm.

Tomorrow, I’m going to have get down to the rest of it.

My life is busy right now. Three jobs, two kids belonging to a total of four teams with a side of flute lessons.

I don’t have time to meander thru Sunday’s paper, I toss out the coupons, and the business and real estate, and get right down to Dinner With Cupid. I make food, and then we eat lots and lots of leftovers. I exchange quick texts to really good friends that go back and forth and back and forth while we attempt to find a mutual time we can both make it for coffee. I’m hoping they are reading the same subtexts I am- “I really love you and look forward to when we can spend time in the same room and I can see your face when I ask if you think this dress makes me legs look short or I can reach over and hug you when you talk about spending three weeks searching for just the right senior center for your mom.”

So, I have no time. The other morning, my daughter had created a beautiful picture to go along with a book report. I typed the report for her, it was much quicker than proof reading the damn thing, and I glanced at the outline she showed me. When she was walking out the door, I called out- “Make sure you bring that report home. I need to see the your beautiful illustration.” I’m pretty sure it is a “beautiful illustration”, but I still haven’t seen the finished product. She did mention she got an A.

But inside this life of mine, there is one luxury that is a necessity. Every day that the temperature isn’t below 15 degrees fahrenheit, and there aren’t sheets of rain racing down in my general direction, or snowflakes floating and sticking to the sheets of black ice all over the road- I take the dogs for a walk.

I carry Sophie and Coco to the car. I stuff them inside. I grab a coat, my headphones, my IPhone, and a cup of coffee from hours before placed in a really tall plastic water glass so it won’t spill.

We drive to Cunningham Woods, about a mile and a half away from our house.

When we pull into my parking spot, always the same spot, if the dogs got turned around by a particularly amorous, intact, black lab they’d be able to find it, the car of course. None of us like the lab much. I slide open the side door to the mini van and they spill out of their seats the way that Katy and Colin did right after they first figured out how to get out of their car seats without any help.

I sit behind the steering wheel, iphone in my lap, speaker cords tangled in the steering wheel. I open up Spotify, the magical spot that holds all of my songs. I pick a play list, I look for a song. I find what I need on that particular day, I place the headphones over my ears, I untangle the cords from the wheel and the gear shift and my foot. I put my keys in my pocket. I think about locking the car. I don’t.

I hop out of the car, carrying nothing more than phone, wearing nothing but my coat with deep pockets,(and clothes of course. This isn’t going there). Inside my coat are my keys, and maybe a piece of gum I seized in the most recent “you can’t have gum in this house until you learn to put it in the trash when your’e done.”

We all start our journey. Sophie is the slowest. She sniffs. She peers out at other dogs from behind trees. Coco dances, hops, races, skids, he’s a pinball mini doberman pinscher on crack.

I follow along behind. I’m not really following them. I’m just moving along a path we’ve taken a million times before.

Some days, I’m listening to old hip hop- “Get down with OPP, yah you know me…”, TLC, Mary J Blige. Sometimes I’m checking out the latest rap song I heard when Colin had radio control. Often, I’m dipping to old songs I’ve heard a million times before. One day I listened to five different versions of “Romeo and Juliet” originally by Dire Straits, but did you know the Indigo Girls did a cover? Another afternoon, I checked out Richard Thompson’s “One Thousand Years of Popular Music,” the highlight of which was his cover of Britney Spear’s classic “Oops, I did it again.”

These walks take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour and a half. I take as much time as I can, or as much time as I need. I tell people that I have no choice, the dogs need their walks.

And they do. But I really need my ramble, and a little bit of time singing along to silly pop music, gritty rock and roll, ballads, and anthems. I’m taking moments to visit the person I was when that music was probably a pretty crucial way I defined myself. I remember as early as junior high. First week of school, first time someone new sat next to me at the lunch table, one of my first questions, or one of their first questions, would be- “who do you listen to?”

These days, I get a chance listen to a little bit of everything. But you know, it’s only because the dogs really need their walk.