My daughter is cleverer than I am. She coined the family term, “Easter Tradition.” An Easter Tradition is one where a child brings home the stomach bug. Then, everyone succumbs, a few days apart from one another, to shitting and vomiting to the extent of exhaustion and begging for mercy. It’s happened to our family, in our quaint house with one bathroom, for a few springtimes now. Having one bathroom certainly encourages the quick and tumultuous virus to spread like crabs in a drug-dealer’s trailer.
After the first victim, we religiously beach light switches, doorknobs, refrigerator handles, and wash our hands until they begin to look parched. My husband and I silently wait, who will be next? Dry heaves and stomach cramps be damned, will I wake at 2 in the morning or will I beat the odds?
The first time, on a night before Easter, both daughters got sick within an hour of one another. “Save the baby,” I said and called the in-laws in from their camper, which was parked in our backyard for the season. I realized we had the Rotavirus, or worse, the Norovirus in our house. I tied a t-shirt tied across my face like cowboy’s bandana in 1890 Tombstone, Arizona. My mother-in-law took our three-month-old son into the camper and laughed sweetly at our predicament.
While M was vomiting all over the toilet, S cried, humiliated by having to say it, “I have to poop!” I stopped rubbing M’s back and snatched the trashcan from its place. There was no other choice, I told S, “Shit in the trashcan.” She leaned back as though she understood her task. Squatting low, and appearing on target, she missed altogether and her body spew a brown muddiness all across the bathroom wall where it splashed like chocolate milk.
Because I’m inclined to research, I had read all about these viruses on the CDC’s website. I can tell you it’s bleach that kills the virus, and that the virus holder is contagious for a two to three days after they’ve recovered. Thus, my husband and I know the absolute importance of not getting either the shit or vomit in our eyes and mouths and noses.
A few minutes later, still wearing my fashioned facemask having just cleaned up the vomit from the toilet and shit on the wall, we began to make beds for them on the floor nearest the bathroom. He made one pallet and I the other, each of us unfurling blankets. As my hand went up to unfurl, his body came down to adjust – we touched one another – my hand, which had not yet been washed, met his face on the mouth. We instantly knew he would become the next victim of the Easter tradition. I started laughing, “I’m so sorry! That sucks. I’m so sorry!” (He did not laugh.)
Two days later he vomited and shit throughout the night. My son and I made it through unscathed. My in-laws did not; the stomach bug took them to the depths of hell in a 26-foot 5th wheel. They didn’t come out for a few days.
This year must have been the lesser virus because the shitting and vomiting were varied and not as detrimental. So far our nephew, my husband, and my son have had their turns. My in-laws might be next because my son became sick at their house (sorry for that!). Today is Easter, and each moment the remaining of us wait, crossing our fingers, washing out hands, hoping to avoid the Easter tradition.