I used to get headaches when I was a kid, which now strikes me as somewhat intense, but I didn’t start getting migraines until I lived in London and went through a brief course of “the pill” in an attempt to clear up my problematic cystic acne. It didn’t clear up anything, but it did make me incapable of eating and also set off a series of hormonally-linked migraines which carried on sporadically for quite some time after I gave the medication up as a loss. Then I started taking cancer-prevention meds in 2009 and the migraines have returned with a vengeance. Now, even if I have a normal headache to start with, it ends up as a migraine before it goes away.
I mention all this to explain the agony I was in on Monday morning when I woke up, devoid of the cold-stuffiness I’d been fighting all weekend, but with this odd sort of empty-ache where my recently-taxed sinuses were. When this thing turned into a migraine, it didn’t feel like any I’d ever had before–or at least not like many. It’s not that the pain was worse–it was just . . . different. I have now dubbed this headache a “Jael-headache,” on account of how much it felt like someone was hammering a tent-peg into my head.
The day before, I mentioned to Pastor Ron that if I felt any worse than I did that day, I’d be working from home on Monday, but then I remembered I had a Christian Education Committee meeting Monday night (normally they’re on Tuesdays), and that we hadn’t had one the month before, and that we had a lot of stuff to talk about, so I dragged myself out of the house and ended up in my office, whining on Facebook about how my head hurt, and having a hard time concentrating on writing the script for that musical we’re meant to be doing at the end of the school year. Halfway through the day I emailed Heather-the-Christian-Education-Committee-Chairperson, and told her about the tent-peg in my head and that I’d be in touch about whether or not I was going to show that night after all.
She called me about an hour later, asking if I was okay and trying to find out for sure if I’d be there or going home. “I’ll be there,” I said. She assured me that if I really felt miserable, I should just forget it. They’d cancel it.
I really was feeling miserable, and if I had been feeling even a little better, I might have wondered why she was talking about cancelling just because I couldn’t be there. I mean, I’m the director of Christian Education, but they’ve had meetings without me before. At some point that day or the day before I had had a crazy idea that maybe this rescheduled CE meeting was really going to be a surprise bridal shower, but then I thought that I only thought that because I used to throw surprise birthday parties for my friends in college all the time (O Christian college, where arranging to have your guyfriends jump out of bushes and blindfold and carry off your girlfriends to the prearranged party-point somehow did not seem alarming or sketchy . . . ). I guess I supposed that now that I had outgrown fake kidnappings as an acceptable mode of surprise party, if I were to throw one again, I would just piggyback on meetings that were actually supposed to happen. Anyway, by the time Heather-the-Chair and I were having this conversation, I had pretty much talked myself out of this idea that the meeting was all about me, particularly when I told her I was going to go home and chill and then come back and she told me I could come back in my pajamas if I wanted. But I guess I still thought it was enough about me to come back at all.
When I arrived back at the church, that Jael-headache–which no amount of caffeine and single tablet of Aleve had managed to shift earlier in the day–was mysteriously gone. Well, that was a good thing. I think the people on the CE Committee are great, but I still hate meetings as a rule (a fact I frequently find ironic, given that I work for a church), and I was glad I wasn’t going to have to sit through a high-agenda one with a migraine on top of it.
I was fifteen minutes early, but it looked like the lights were already on in the room where we usually meet, and it looked like there were quite a number of people in there. Our church rents out space to outside focus groups and since it was Monday and not our usual Tuesday night, I figured maybe one of those groups were in there now. I went up the stairs to my office and sat in there for fifteen minutes, kind of reveling in the fact that my head felt peg-less again. Usually if someone else is using our meeting room, the CE women come into my office, but when no one had even peeked in the door by five past the hour, I decided to go downstairs and look. There really was quite a ruckus down there. Had I been right after all . . . ?
I started down the hall to the large room that opens out at the end and there was the smiling face of one of “my” teenagers–the teenager, in fact, who gave me the Nuns Having Fun calendar for Christmas. I began to grin. The closer I got to the room, the bigger my grin got, so that when I finally reached it and everybody yelled “Surprise!!” it was just one big crazy smile all around the room.
I used to rant about bridal showers and baby showers. I said I didn’t like them. I said I didn’t want one. But, kind of like the diamonds on my ring, it turns out that after all, I did. There’s something really amazing about seeing a whole bunch of people of whom you think fondly, all sitting in a room with cake and cookies just to celebrate you. I kind of felt like I should be celebrating them–the youth and the Sunday school kids and the Sunday school teachers and the Confirmation mentors and the Women’s Bible Study members and the Christian Education Committee–instead. It felt strange to be the center of attention–I’d rather sit in the background and make sure things are set up okay so they can all do the things they’ve volunteered to do. All the same, it was awkwardly nice to be celebrated, too. They even spelled Jenn right. I’m so glad I got over my migraine.