In family lore, it’s referred to as, “The Trip From Hell”.
But that’s not true.
New Jersey was a blast. Our troubles didn’t start until we got on the road to come home. More accurately it should be referred to as, “The Voyage Into Hell”.
And we didn’t even get a boat ride with a three-headed puppy.
The morning after the shower, we prepared to leave. We were leaving with enough baby supplies and equipment shower gifts to open a home for wayward infants.
Our first stop was my Aunt Polly and Uncle Bill’s house. Aunt Polly made us fresh scallops. They were delicious and we all overindulged.
After lunch, we hit the road.
We stopped for road snacks and soda. We put the soda into the cooler we had brought with us.
When we were about halfway home, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant in Alexandria VA.
As we ate, Mom started slowing down and got an odd look on her face.
“You guys stay here and finish up, I’m going outside, I think I need some air and to stretch my legs.” Petey gave her the car keys, and she went out.
Petey and I continued eating, finished dinner, and I probably had dessert; I was eating for two, you know.
We went outside and found Mom.
She was bent over, one hand hanging onto the side of our car, downloading her dinner and the lunch of scallops like she was trying to win a contest. From the state of the blacktop around her, it wasn’t her first time, either.
She tried to stand up but was shaking so bad, Petey had to help her into the back seat while I ran into the restaurant to get her some ginger ale some damp paper towels. As a nurse, Petey must have sensed something, because he emptied the cooler and sat it next to her, “just in case”.
We got on the road again, and since we were almost exactly halfway home, we decided to make a run for it.
Everything was okay for about forty-five minutes or so, then I started to feel funny.
It was the weirdest thing. I couldn’t describe how I was feeling then, and couldn’t begin to describe it now. I just felt wrong; weirdly, weirdly wrong. As we rode south on 95, I tried to figure this feeling out.
And all of a sudden, I was hanging over the highway guard rail, downloading like a champ. The rest of the ride was a symphony of mom downloading in the back into that just in case cooler and me screaming for Petey to pull over. After each highway download, I’d shake so hard he’d help me back into the car.
At one point I was in a truck stop bathroom trying to clean myself off, my cute little maternity outfit speckled with food I’d eaten in kindergarten. Petey was outside trying to clean out mom’s cooler.
He told me later that as many sick people as he’d seen, he never heard the noises I was making. He likened it to a Japanese movie monster.
Once home, he helped me change my clothes and took me to the hospital. I needed fluids for The gestating Kid. The doctor treating me prescribed nausea meds for Mom, and for Petey too, “just in case”.
Turns out, poor old Petey was as sick as Mom and I. He’d just been holding it together to get us home.
That stowaway we’d brought along?
It was the scourge of cruise ships and college dorms—norovirus.
Our final shower gift.
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