By the end of the work day, my body felt heavy, almost too heavy to move. My throat had been scratchy all day like it has been quite frequently lately, and I wondered for about the fifteenth time in the last couple of months if today was the day I became the latest victim of the flu. Three of my students had been out last week and our librarian had been out for a week with it. I knew it was still making the rounds.
When my son texted me that track practice was ending at 4:40 instead of the usual 5:00, I was relieved to have an excuse to leave work early. Not only was my body feeling like it didn't want to move, my brain seemed to have lost all ability to think straight. The couch in my family room was calling my name.
After managing to find Jared, all the while avoiding an accident in the chaotic high school parking lot where parents seem to lose all common sense and stop their car anywhere even if it blocks traffic, I pointed my little red Prius toward the elementary school to pick up my younger son Jack. Our route took us near the rival high school. Waiting at a stoplight, we spotted three tired and sweaty teenagers standing at the corner. They were clearly members of their school's track team.
"I should have run over that guy. He might be your competition at tomorrow's meet," I joked as I turned the corner.
Several more students could be seen running on the sidewalk in the opposite direction that we were traveling.
"There's another one," I said, and swerved the car ever so slightly to the right as if I were going to take him out. I laughed, thinking I wasn't exactly setting a good example for my son who was soon going to begin driving lessons.
"And another one." Once again I allowed the car to drift to the right. I laughed again, feeling just the tiniest bit guilty when I saw the boy look up with a somewhat startled expression on his face as we went by.
"That's funny," Jared remarked.
"What? My pretending to take out your competition?"
"No. But that is funny," he said, and we both laughed. This time my laughter was longer, louder, and deliciously carefree. Just earlier in the afternoon I had been thinking I didn't laugh often enough. This felt good.
I was still smiling as our conversation wound its way through a discussion of running and the dedication it takes to become a top runner. Suddenly, my body didn't feel so heavy. All those worries about succumbing to the flu evaporated in the golden afternoon sun.
I guess they were right. Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine.