Monday, 4 July 2011

Can you get sick from missing someone?

While we were in Israel, Eva’s daughter was unwell.  My heart went out to her in spades – what kind of torture is it for a mother to be separated from her sick child? Particularly when you’re a 5-hour flight away?  And Eva’s daughter is still so small.  Unlike my hulking lad. 
James is a strapping 12-year old, rapidly approaching 13 – with the body of a jock.  He is fearless in rugby; a natural daredevil on the surf or up a mountain. His favourite pastime with his mates appears to be wrestling. But, oh, oh, that boy has the soul of an artist.  He feels.  He hurts.  So so deeply.  His hide might be tough but his skin is paper-thin.
We went through babysitters like water when he was small.  One night we actually got to go out without being called back after half an hour.  We returned to our isolated farm, punching the air. ‘We’ve cracked it at last,’ said Adrian.  Except. Hmm. There were four cars in the driveway.
‘She’s had a flipping party,’ said Adrian.
‘She didn’t look the type,’ I said, worry creeping in. 
Sure enough, the poor girl was frantic.  James had cried non-stop – for five hours.  She hadn’t wanted to disturb us so had called her mother…..who’d tried, failed, and called her mother….who’d tried, failed and called her mate, the baby whisperer….who couldn’t believe any baby could be so dogged, so determined. 
I took him in my arms and felt his little body, rigid with tension and exhaustion, relax. The crying stopped. The party broke up.  And so it went on.  Year after year.  But not now, surely?
The trip was so full-on, I barely had time to think or sleep, let alone keep in touch – two hours’ time difference didn’t help either – it was always too early or too late.  So we didn’t talk much.  James sent me links to YouTube of songs he thought I’d like (and I did - my boy is getting good taste).  I mailed back.  We Skyped a bit but it was kinda unsatisfactory – crap sound, time-lapse images and – is it just me or does everyone look like the Living Dead of Manchester Morgue on Skype?  Tell me people don’t seriously have Skype sex?  It’s just plain wrong - for aesthetic reasons alone.

Sorry, slight digression there.  Anyway.  I got back and Adrian came to pick me up from the station – with James.  On a school day?  What?  He was home sick? On the last week of term, missing the swimming gala, missing Sports Day? 
‘His stomach hurts,’ said Adrian with a shrug.

Ah. Those mysterious stomach ailments.  His appetite was fine – put it this way, he made serious inroads into the small mountain of snacks and sweets I had brought back.  Was it psychological?  Stomachs often hint at other problems – but he swears blind there is nothing bothering him, nothing worrying him at school.  And I’m loathe to dismiss it because last time we accused him of malingering, it turned out to be Lyme Disease.
But then, this morning, he just held onto me like he never wanted to let me go; like I was a glass of water in a desert. 
‘Oh Mum. I missed you so so so much.’
Can you be sick with missing, I wonder?  Was the cure a day or two of full-on hugs and kisses?  I dunno.  I’ll take him to the doctor to check it out but, you know, I think my boy is just plain exhausted. 

I figure he just needs some time and rest and a big big dose of love. 

 This is one of the songs he sent me...  :) 


Anonymous said...

Hi Jane
I reckon 'homesick' (or Mum-sick?)is called that for a reason. As a child I remember the first time I felt it. It was a strange feeeling in my stomach. I told someone I felt ill and was taken home. I learned to know the feeling - it took a lot longer to conquer it - but (good news!) I did in the end. Anyway, good to know those macho boys have their soft side!

susie @newdaynewlesson said...

Awwww. And the answer is yes. And if it didn't hurt before, after all those snacks it will.

vegemitevix said...

In my experience yes, hun they can. I used to get terrible home-sickness as a child and even had to be flown home because I missed Mum so much. Love your description of your son, mine (now 17) is a bit like that too - strong physically, but with the highly-tuned sensitivity of an artist. Oh, and about the other thing people do on Skype. Do they? Yup they most certainly do especially when their lover is in the UK and they are in NZ! x

Pete Brown said...

Funnily enough, I was just researching the concept of nostalgia for my new book, and its original meaning was a form of illness, a homesickness, that was regarded as a serious medical condition from the 17th century to the 19th.

Swiss mercenaries fighting in France and Italy were often utterly debilitated by it.

Only in the age of the romantics did it gradually become defined as a form of melancholia, a broader form of depression, and only in the 1920s was nostalgia defined as bitter-sweet, often pleasant, recollection of things past.

When I say 'researching' of course, what I mean is I got all this from the Wikipedia entry for nostalgia. Very interesting though.

Anonymous said...

yes you can become ill from missing someone; it's a kind of grief.
I cannot imagine how awful it must be to have someone go missing and never know what happened, but lately I feel as if I have tasted a tiny sample of that.
glad you are home safe and well.

Midlife Singlemum said...

I think children can definitely express their unhappiness through a physical illness. What a compliment to you. Funny I had a picture of your son being about 2 - probably because we're in the 2s so I think everyone must be :) Glad you got home safely and enjoy some quality time with James.

Jane The Booklady said...

I still say to my children " but how does it feel in your tummy" when they might be worrying about something! (despite being 15 and 19...)When a normally stoic lad is emotional and upset, it can so break your heart, I know how you feel. Thank you for this post, I must go and give my boy a hug. Jane x

Blog de Madre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blog de Madre said...

I think so, Jane, love and miss someone, often becomes physical pain .. My baby is fine. When she saw me, she smiles again :)
Big kisses!

Jobo Pooks said...

You're never to old to miss your mum.

It's therapeutic to let go from time to time in the flow, but wallowing creates those nasty chemicals.

Expat mum said...

Bless! My little guy is having terrible tummy trouble at the moment and my first thought was that something must be bothering him either at home or school. Fortunately it turns out to be lactose intolerance.