New Year’s Day was a going to be special for me, not because of the obvious transition to 2012 but because this year it fell on a Sunday and my BFF, a Yale Divinity School student, was scheduled to deliver a sermon at the Episcopal church in my town. This would be a landmark for any seminary student, but for my friend Kit, who started this particular journey later in life, it was going to be extra special. I did not want to miss it for anything in the world. In the interest of planning ahead, my husband and I scheduled a very early New Year’s Eve dinner with a few friends. We would be in bed by 10:30pm so that we could be bright eyed and bushy tailed for Kit’s big moment. As scheduled, we were in tucked in early. Sadly, a pesky cough began to descend upon me as the night grew deep. I barely slept at all and my poor husband was jolted from his slumber by my hacking every 30 minutes or so. Finally around 5:00am, he couldn’t take it anymore. He pleaded for me to take some cough medicine. Luckily, he had a bottle of the prescription stuff in his medicine cabinet. “Shake it up and take a teaspoon. It will stop the coughing and we can still get a little sleep.” If the stuff worked quickly, we could still get three or so hours of shut eye. I stumbled into the bathroom, located the bottle and searched for a spoon. Having none in sight I grabbed the little cup that comes with the bottle of Nyquil, filled it and drank. It tasted like cherry. Yum. Almost immediately I stopped coughing. Soon I was all cozy inside and getting drowsy. We didn’t have to be at the church until 10:00am so three hours of sleep, maybe four if I didn’t wash my hair…….Deep sleep came. No coughing did, only a little weird itching all over as I drifted away but who cares. Strange dreams. Sleeeeeep.
The next thing I knew I was looking at a clock that said 9:33am. Yikes! We jumped out of bed and into our clothes as fast as we could. My husband was moving at a clip but I was having a little trouble. I was having a hard time getting my balance. My head was in a fog. I thought back to the evening before and recalled that I had not had much to drink, but I was soooo dizzy. Not to mention that my shoes looked like they were on the wrong feet, except they weren’t. I sat down at my vanity to put on a little makeup and gazed into the magnifying mirror. Eeeee gads! My pupils were tiny. I didn’t look so great, but at least I was not coughing. Oh no! The cough medicine. I grabbed the bottle and immediately spotted warnings all over the label. “May cause drowsiness…caution when operating machinery….etc.” Baloney. It should have said, “Improper dosage may cause hallucinations, itching, pin-eye and spinning sensations.” Too bad. It was now 9:44am and I was not going to miss Kit’s day in the pulpit. Somehow we got out of the house dressed by 9:57am. I was hoping that the fancy scarf I was wearing would distract from the fact that my pupils looked like the bulls eyes at a shooting range for ants, and also I couldn’t walk very straight. It didn’t. We hit the sidewalk at this Norman Rockwell of a church at 10:00am sharp. And there she was standing at the door in a white smock looking ethereal. Like a cross between Murphy Brown and Mother Theresa. My husband kept prodding me to hurry up, hurry up! “Leave me alone!” I snapped. “I have short legs, high heels and I am loaded. I am doing the best that I can!” Even from the corner of my beady left eye I could detect a smirk on his face. We made it inside and I practically fell into one of the pews next to my friend’s family, who no doubt assumed I was having….uh…issues. In all the hustle to get out of the house I had left my glasses at home so even attempting to follow the liturgy in the bulletin would have been simply for show so I didn’t even try. I can usually fake it with the music, but these Episcopal hymns are not what one would categorize as catchy tunes so my singing was that of a drunken cat in heat. Finally, Kit spoke. She was graceful and gentle. She was calm and she was inspiring. I was squinting and tilting to one side in my seat but ,still, all was right with the world. When the service was over I got to my feet hugging and kissing friends I had not seen in years. At my age, friends have drifted in many directions and it was a reunion of sorts for some of us. My guess is that some of them were quietly shaking their heads as they studied my bob and weave, and my reptilian eyes. Kit’s husband even invited us to join the gang at the family home for a (ha!) glass of champagne. As much as I wanted to go I couldn’t think of anything worse for my condition than a glass of bubbly, so I bowed out and sweetly asked my husband to take me home so I could get some sleep. He did and I did for the rest of the day. As I once again drifted off, I realized that throughout the entire service, I may have wobbled and squinted and weaved a bit, but never once…not even a little bit… did I cough. Also, I am pretty positive that at least a couple of folks were praying for me. So Happy New Year! And Amen.