I’ve got the flu. This one’s a knock-out. Throbbing head, aching limbs, dank, gargling cough…ample opportunity to feel sorry for myself and to get other people to feel sorry for me too. I put myself to bed last night with a series of grunts and moans, sighing long and loud as I tied my sheets in knots.

I called my Mum. I always call my Mum when I’m sick – a weak substitute for an in-person mother, with accompanying vegetable soup and buttered toast. I got all emotional on the phone, as years of tension and angst melted into the primordial need to be mothered. I thought about the grown men on battlefields of the wars of old, and how, in their dying minutes, they called out for their Mums. I’m feeling a little teary as I write this now.

Dimitri tells me that you need to make a big stockpile of soup at the beginning of an illness, while you still have the strength. There are tricks to having no one to take care of you, he says. His words are so sad I want to cry again.

I lie on the carpet in front of the heater, listening to Regina Spektor and watching the sky whip by beyond my festering living room. A winter sun streams through the glass and warms my face. I close my eyes and imagine that God is smiling down on me. Life is so beautiful, I think through a throbbing head. Even in my deepest darkness, the universe shines bright.

I open my eyes again and see that the sky has turned a solid dreary white. Well that sucks. I pull out a crusty handkerchief and blow my nose.