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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Originally published November 12, 2010

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay

As long as kids have been around, parents have been waiting for them to come home.

And while waiting, sometimes parents worry. It’s a low-grade kind of worry. Like when you have a slight temperature and the thermometer reads 99 degrees. You’re not really sick, just feeling slightly off.

I get this feeling occasionally, waiting for my teenage daughter to come home at night. I don’t know exactly where it comes from, just as I can’t always figure out where I picked up a cold. When it hits, I try different remedies.

First, I try a dose of reason. I tell myself there’s no cause for worry, even though my daughter isn’t home yet, because she’s out with friends, who I know are responsible. She’s in a safe area, not far away. Another parent, someone I’ve known for years, is driving her home.

But when my daughter still hasn’t arrived, irrational thoughts start creeping in. They’re small at first, like tiny bug bites. I attempt to ignore them, but then the itching begins. I hope everything’s okay. Maybe something has happened. Nothing’s wrong, I hope.

As my worrying flares, I try soothing it with a cup of tea. The steam rises from the cup, covering my face in a veil of warm mist. The heat of the liquid in my mouth spreads through my limbs. Any minute, I anticipate, the calm will set in.

However, I can’t keep my eyes from going to the front door, solid and unmoving, waiting for my daughter to push through it. But the door stands still, and I’m feeling a little funny, like something I ate doesn’t quite agree with me.

I start doing some yoga, which always relaxes me. I sit on the floor, put the soles of my feet together and start the breathing exercises that accompany yoga. Take in a deep breath, and count one, two, three, four, five.

But instead I find myself counting the minutes on the clock on the wall. I watch closely as the second hand makes a full rotation. One minute. I continue my breathing exercises, still counting. Five minutes. More time passes, and my daughter’s not yet home. Between breathing and counting (and waiting and worrying), my head is starting to feel heavy, as if a headache is lurking.

I’m taking in another breath, when I hear a clinking of keys outside. The door swings open and my daughter steps inside. I let out a big exhale. My head is suddenly clear.

I’m struck by how good I feel, as I get ready for bed. I put my head down on the pillow, without any worry, knowing that my daughter is safe and sound at home. It’s the only cure I know.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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