The Break That Broke Me

Because life is meant to be shared. Because all of life’s adventures are not pretty and perfectly packaged. Because too many people edit their lives and only share the pretty of life. Because this is our life and it’s not always pretty. That is why I write.

We’ve been home for a week. Spring break kicked my ass in a big way and I’m still picking up the pieces while simultaneously relishing the great times we had.  

Our road-trip to DC was amazing and filled with stops along the way to visit friends and family.  

There was the pit stop for lunch in Charlotte with dear friends and former neighbors last Saturday. An opportunity for all of us to catch up, meet their one month old son, hug their daughter and time for the kiddos to stretch their legs and run and play.  

Raleigh, our overnight stop allowed for a visit with a long time friend and colleague of Paul’s. Sunday we ventured off to DC with a brief pit stop in Ashland, VA for more running around and lunch. 

DC was amazing, as it always is. We took in the White House, Capitol, Botanical Gardens, Natural History Museum, the Lincoln, Washington, Korean, WWII, Martin Luther King, Jr. memorials, the Air and Space Museum as well as the new Air and Space Museum at Dulles and of course, Arlington National Cemetery.  


A highlight was our great friend Laura (Life after Normal), who graciously hosted us in her place in Arlington. Home cooked meals, Thai take out, love, friendship, laughter and cats to entertain the boys was exactly what everyone needed.   

We spent days riding the metro, seeing the sites, drawing from my history degree to talk history with the boys, explain why DC is laid out as it is and relishing the time we were finally spending together as a family.  

It couldn’t have been going better. Our impromptu vacation was so much fun!  

We hadn’t had a family vacation since July 2008, just a few weeks prior to my surgery. A vacation we had planned in an attempt to get away, relax and reconnect as a family. A vacation cut short as the economy imploded and rushed back to Atlanta for Paul to  return to work in an attempt to salvage clients and his job.  

We departed D.C. for Richmond, VA after brunch with family in northern Virginia and the boys gushed about all they had seen, what they had learned and played with their gift store finds.   

It had been nearly four years, but we had pulled it off. A successful family vacation. The economy hadn’t tanked, no last-minute flights were being booked and we were all smiling, laughing and life was good.  

It wasn’t over yet. 

Dinner in Richmond with old friends was the cherry on top of the sundae. 10 years had passed since we’d been together. 5 children between us both had been added and yet, it felt as if no time had passed. Anne, a photographer, shared her wisdom and tips and I drooled over the acreage their property sits on and her chickens.  

As we prepared Thursday morning to leave Richmond and head to my mom outside Charlotte, NC a discovery was made.  

There had been this thing called an outbreak before we left. Notes and emails had been coming home from school and I had been diligent. A damn detective I’d become.  

As I continued my search Thursday morning with the focus of a laser and the fear of a cornered animal, I found one.  

It took everything in my soul to not immediately breakdown into a puddle on the floor, crawl into the corner, cry and rock myself like a crazy person. I didn’t because who knew what was on the floor. Who knew anything anymore.  

My mind was spinning, my hands were shaking and I couldn’t speak. All I could do was walk into the bathroom, stand with my finger out and show Paul with tears in my eyes.  

I didn’t speak until he said the word. It took him a few guesses, but out he came with it.  


I cried.  

I called the pediatrician. I couldn’t even leave my message with a level voice. I broke down, tears running down my face and begged for a quick return call. I needed someone to swoop in and deal with this. I didn’t have the capacity to do it. I wanted to flee and return when all was better.  

The parasite that so many of my friends had encountered, lived through and came out on the other side, I knew in my heart of hearts would eventually meet my acquaintance. I just never thought it would make an introduction on our vacation.   

Every ounce of the joy, laughter, experiences and memories of our week felt as they were fading away and fleeing to a better place. I tried to pull my shit together but ended up panicked and obsessed while Paul stayed calm.  

With a heavy heart and deep regret, one by one, we reached out to all those we’d stayed with and visited with. It was a humiliating ordeal. Fortunately everyone took it in stride and as far as I know, everyone is still speaking to us.  

After treating all of us since we were all traveling together, stuff in and out of bags and driving down the road in what I referred to as our contamination chamber, we arrived home last Friday.  

Our bags are still in the garage, long ago emptied in batches and laundered at nuclear levels, however I can’t bring myself to touch them. I attacked the contents of our home, considered a safe zone since we hadn’t been there, at nuclear levels.  

Laundry in our house as been going nearly 24 hours a day and I am trying not to feel contaminated all the time. 

We’re following the protocol from the pediatrician and thus far everything looks good. I’ve become a mom and wife on an obsessed mission to detect anything on my families heads and Paul is less than thrilled to have to check my head at the demanding and obsessive level of laser inspection I command him to every other day.  

Life is an adventure. Not much surprises me, but this certainly sent me into a tail spin. Spring break 2012 was certainly one for the memory books on varied levels.   

I itch thinking about it.



5 thoughts on “The Break That Broke Me

  1. Love ya, Jen! I so enjoy every word you write. I am with you on your journey’s – all the way to itching as I read about the lice! Thank you for sharing your life with us!! xoxoxox

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