Saturday, February 2:  On Tuesday, January 29, I started feeling all achy and tired and sick to my stomach.  It almost felt like I imagine Chronic Fatigue Syndrome feels, with stomach troubles thrown in for good measure.  It came upon me by degrees on Tuesday and lingered Wednesday morning.  Wednesday afternoon, I thought I was feeling better and then WHAM!  By Wednesday night, I went progressively downhill and was totally wiped out.  Every cubic inch of my body was aching, I had a throbbing headache and piercing neck pain, and my stomach was in total disarray. Utter chaos. After having read about the diseases one could catch in Nepal, I had a temporary panic attack that I had contracted spinal meningitis!! Or Amoebic dysentery.  However, there was no fever, so I reassured myself that meningitis could not be the problem.  I treated myself by barely eating anything, staying in my pajamas from Wednesday through Friday night, and drinking lots of fluids to avert dehydration.

I rarely EVER get sick.  However, I have to say, in some bizarre way, I relished having an excuse to stay in my pajamas and in a reclining position all weekend.  I have been continually on the go since January 1, when Mike and the boys arrived, until I returned home from Nepal on January 25, where I was constantly cold and uncomfortable.  I think my body just decided to put a stop to all my shenanigans and knock me out for a few days.

Since I barely felt like doing ANYTHING, I just lay on the couch and alternately read a new book of Nepali short stories I bought in Kathmandu AND watched episode after episode of the 5th and final season of Brothers and Sisters, which I had the boys bring me from the U.S.

Sometimes those Walkers got on my nerves!! Big time!!  It frustrated, even infuriated me, the way they put every other person who came into their lives on hold, ALWAYS, as they attended to family business. Or family crises. I couldn’t understand how beautiful French Luc put up with being constantly ignored and belittled by Sarah. Especially as Luc was FABULOUS!!  And why every relationship Nora had always fell by the wayside as she sacrificed her own happiness for her self-centered children.  And why there was nothing sacred, or private, between any of them.

Overall, I loved their messy but loving family, the family that stuck together throughout all tribulations.  My family of origin, the Birdsong clan, used to be like this.  I can see, in the Walker family, how we used to be back in the day, before my brother died in 1988 and my mother died in 2002.  My brothers and sisters were, and still are, the most fun-loving, most intelligent and witty people I have ever known. I enjoyed our family gatherings immensely.  I felt at one time that I was the glue that held us together after my mom died, but then my sister took over holding us together as my family fell apart.  My other sister lives in California and doesn’t like to fly, so it’s been years since I’ve seen her.  And my brother has gone missing from our lives because he’s going through struggles of his own.  We barely ever see or talk to each other any more.

The Walker family in Brothers and Sisters kept growing and changing and morphing into this motley and crazy collection of people.  Yet.  I found, as I watched episode after episode, I didn’t want to tear myself away.  I felt like I was part of their family.  Surely Nora Walker would welcome me into her home; after all, she called her dead husband’s mistress, Holly, a “friend;” she accepted basically any misfit who tumbled into the midst of their family.  I found myself getting teary-eyed as Kevin and Scotty tried to cobble together their own family from a foster-home-adopted Olivia to their surrogate-conceived son Daniel, during the last several episodes. As Kitty finally got pregnant and decided to try to have the baby despite the risk to her own health.  As Luc reconciled with his mother.  And as Sarah and Luc celebrated the wedding of a lifetime.

me, Joan, my mom, Rob, Stephanie, and Dad probably around the year 2000??

me, Joan, my mom, Rob, Stephanie, and Dad over 20 years ago!

I found myself missing my extended family.  Of course, I miss my own family, especially my children, but what I missed while watching this marathon was my bigger family.  In all their craziness and uniqueness.  And their messiness.

At the end, at Sarah and Luc’s wedding, Nora Walker quoted from George Eliot:

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

Maybe we can’t be the Walkers, but I believe it’s never too late to be the Birdsongs we might have been.

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