I recently shared this story over dinner at a restaurant with Lisa’s family, and my daughter’s delight at my absurdity and my fear was very gratifying! As we have said on this blog many times, sharing stories of our own mistakes and comic misunderstandings normalizes mistakes for our kids. We all make them. Nobody’s perfect. And hopefully we can laugh about them afterwards.
So, one cold winter day a few years back I had been reading in a cozy chair, rubbing my hands together to keep warm, sometimes rubbing them between my knees or hugging myself against the chill. I wondered at one point if I should turn the heat up, as I noticed my normally pale skin was looking slightly blue. I hugged a blanket around my shoulders and continued reading. As the sun shifted and came through the window onto my lap, I noticed my hands really looked blue. Definitely blue. I rubbed them together again, thinking I should take a walk and get my blood circulating. I made a cup of tea to warm myself, and tried to quell the tiny voice in my head that was saying, “That does not look normal.”
I subdued my anxiety by diving back into my book, but couldn’t resist taking a peek now and then. Still blue, even though I had turned up the heat and done a few jumping jacks. The tiny voice was louder now, and my thoughts began to stumble in alarm. My daughter, the Lovely K., would soon be home, and I began to sketch out an action plan in nervous jerks of thought – hospital, am I cyanotic? am I not getting enough oxygen? am I losing circulation? emergency room? call someone so I can drop her off in case – I went into the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror, my mind now racing with fear. My face seemed normal, my gums pink, it was just my blue blue hands! I was as close as I’ve ever come to freaking out, staring at my blue hands, when I happened to clench them into fists, and that’s when I noticed that where the skin stretched over my knuckles, there was my normal pale color in the cracks. Suspicious now in a different way, I grabbed a bar of soap and began to wash my hands. My mouth gaped in surprise as the soap suds turned dingy gray and my horrifying and mysterious medical condition swirled down the drain.
At this point in the story Lisa’s daughter broke in like Sherlock Holmes. “Your jeans! It was your jeans!”
“Yes,” I confessed with chagrin. “I was wearing brand new jeans, and when I tried to warm up by rubbing my hands between my knees the dye rubbed into my skin. Every time I rubbed my hands on my legs to get my circulation going it just got darker and darker.”
My daughter was giggling. “You thought you were turning blue!”
What I didn’t share was that I’ve noticed whenever I am sick that she becomes very anxious. My adopted daughter lost one mother already, and whether it’s conscious for her or not, I think she fears it might happen again. Why wouldn’t she think so? Where she comes from there are millions of orphans whom fate has left parentless, and she knows it. So the thoughts that had been racing through my mind, the fear that had been making me so stupid, was not fear for myself, but for her. No! It wouldn’t be fair, life is not that cruel! was what had my heart in my throat.
But no. Not quite dead yet, to quote a favorite line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
“Pretty dumb, huh?” I asked her. She just laughed and continued with her dinner.
So that’s why I’m here. It has been almost a year since Lisa and I started this blog, and I began sharing stories with our readers. My daughter’s courage in starting her life over again at 8 years old continues to be my inspiration, and I’ll keep telling stories until I turn blue in the face.