Stories about family, parenting and friends
I am in mid 60s, have en elderly mother (93) and grand-nephew (18) who also live with me. During the grip of the pandemic and now, I was considered an essential worker so I went to work regularly, which helped me keep my sanity. But I was very concerned about mom (elderly) and nephew (in school). And it was a struggle keeping mom sheltered in her room, and trying to keep my nephew from going out too often and when he did to wear a mask.
We have fallen into a routine so the struggle has lessened, but just thinking that we have as much as a year and a half of this yet to go saddens and concerns me. I can’t help but worry about my mother and her health, and my worry for my nephew and all he’s missing by not being able to go to school. His entire generation is missing out on so much. I feel for them.
A Son's Lost
I would like to share the story of my aunt and my cousin. My aunt died from Covid-19 on May 29, 2020 - she was 69 years old. She's survived by her husband, 6 kids, 7 grandkids and 1 great grand child. Her youngest son Mario Navia - is a Doctor - his specialty is infectious diseases. Their bond was unbreakable. He wrote a poem for her. He originally wrote it in Spanish and I have translated it below:
GRATEFUL YOU ARE MY MOTHER
Because your unconditional love made me believe
Because you are right, emotions are stronger when we are fearless of grieve
Because your faith in me helped you conceive
Since in the womb, a fountain of tender sweetness, your love helped me achieve
You became my guide, my idol in every way
Your words filling me with hope each and every day
Your unwavering discipline contrasts with your presence, mother
Worthy of love, loyalty and affection unlike any other
Absolutely nothing compares to your stunning light
No one will ever dim you, you are intensely bright
Undying beam that captivates even the most skeptical soul
Divine spirit that commemorates a very dignified role
A collection of meaningful experiences and profound insight
Each memory with you is a symbol of nobility and might
Because it is your magnificent love that makes me strong
There is no doubt, your image signifies where I belong
Beauty manifested by your grandiose heart and eternal devotion
Resemblance of a queen while expressing the simplest emotion
Only God could have made you – flesh of his dedication
You bring honor the word woman, staying true to his creation
You deserve it all, you, my supreme teacher
Perhaps you deserve eternal life, for giving so much, the most selfless creature
As a son I love you, but no love is comparable to yours
You are my most continuous thought, you are my friend, my pride, my cure
For being the person, the woman, the friend who I most appreciate
For being my divine light - my life you illuminate
For being that and more, for being the one I adore
I am grateful you are my mother the only one I die for
For me, I liked it
Well I personally did not experience any sadness or sorrow due to this pandemic, and I will forever be grateful for that. I thank God for that.
This pandemic has changed my routine completely. I’ve tried new things like working out and playing the piano, some things stuck others didn’t. I was able to catch up on sleep and be more comfortable in my (on)line classes. For me, I liked it. I grew closer to my siblings with movie marathons every single weekend and Friday night dinners with my family. For me, it allowed me to clear my head and figure out who I care about most who I need most and who feels the same way towards me. For me, I am grateful for my experience.
May 18, 2020
Alexa chimes at 8am. I roll onto my back. “Alexa, stop!”
I lay in bed, my arm pressed over my black silk eye mask to block out the watery morning light seeping in through the floor to ceiling blackout curtains. Sidney snores softly, back pressed hard against my side.
Eventually, the urge to pee drives me out of bed. I tear off the mask and toss it on the bedside table, next to the empty stainless steel water bottle, remote control, and the grey ceramic bowl I ate rocky road cheesecake out of last night. I grab my phone as I stumble to the bathroom, blinking at it until the screen comes into focus.
As I pee, I sort through emails, deleting newsletters and ads. I scan through a term sheet from an investor in one of my client companies, and quickly reply to the CEO — received, doesn’t look good, will send more thoughts later.
Back in bed, I check Slack and my calendar, setting reminders and making a mental list of what I need to accomplish. Sid turns over and looks at me. “Mama, where’s my guitar? Where is it!
“Good morning, Sidney. How did you sleep my love?”
“Where’s guitar Mama? And Bear and Elmo?”
I hand him the purple dog guitar from the floor by the bed, and we find Bear buried in the covers and Elmo on the floor on the other side of the bed. Sidney sits in bed strumming the guitar as I look at Facebook, enjoying the momentary hit of dopamine as I check my notifications. Seventeen posts on my daily post from last night. An article on deaths inching closer and closer to 100,000. A post from a friend a friend who’s an ER doctor in New York, detailing symptoms and intubations and the terror of life in a hospital at the center of the the pandemic, alongside a plea from a local nurse for more mask and PPE donations.
Betty calls around 9:15am, 6:15am for her in Hawaii. At first I’m worried; it’s odd to hear from her early on a Monday morning, but she’s just calling to check in.
We usually talk once a week, but time has stretched out and lost it’s shape. We don’t need to spend a lot of time catching up though. She sees my Facebook updates and I get daily emails from her cataloguing the minutiae of her day. She started those emails last year when my uncle was in the hospital as a way to ground herself, and has continued past his death, documenting her first year of widowhood after a forty year marriage. I’ve amended the practice for my own brief daily Facebook update and photo montage as we Shelter in Place. We agree this is important for our own mental health, and that it seems to help others too.
As I chat with her I get dressed. V-neck rainbow striped t-shirt, black joggers, sports bra and cotton underwear. A quick brush through my hair, tinted moisturizer, and a swipe of rosy balm on my lips and cheeks make me zoom ready.
We hang up around 9:45am, and I quickly put together breakfast. Microwaved brown sugar instant oatmeal for Sid with milk, loose leaf Earl Grey tea with honey and cream and an almond milk protein shake for me.
I bring everything to the couch, stepping over firetrucks, MagnaTiles, and tableaus of toy cars and little people, and call in to my first meeting of the day with one of my clients. I power up my computer as we chat about our weekends, muting while I put Peppa Pig on YouTube for Sidney.
Both of us did lots of gardening, cooking, and went to the beach. We move on to work topics — roles and responsibilities, accounting processes, budgeting, a new chart of accounts where we get bogged down in the details. I have to call her back after my 11am call with a banker to finish our conversation.
By 1pm, I’m throwing together some lunch for us — Sid doesn’t want a rice bowl, so he gets carrot sticks, a banana, two cheese sticks, Ritz crackers, and more milk. I have hummus, muhammara, baba ghanoush, falafel, and a dolma leftover from our takeout Turkish food a couple of night before, over warm brown rice. We both drink lots of lemon water.
We move outside to the deck for the afternoon calls, where I huddle on a camping chair looking out over the wildflowers and fruit trees in the backyard. More bankers and bookkeepers, a call for a grocery store board I’m on. The store almost closed down in February, but COVID has been good for a few kinds of businesses, and groceries are now booming. We’re figuring out curb side pick up, and how to turn our prepared foods into grab and go offerings.
Sid plays in the background, pouring water from bucket to watering can to cups and back again, bringing me a bottle of paint to open, or a flower or lemon from the yard as a gift. I lose him once or twice, muting myself and calling his name until he pokes is head out of the van or says, “Yes Mama,” from behind a bush. In between I answer Slack messages and send out a few emails, finally getting back to the CEO about the poor investment terms around 5pm. It's been gnawing at me all day, this feeling that we’re being taken advantage of alongside the worry that if we don't get investment in soon, the company may not make it. Which impacts me financially, and fifteen other people too.
After I wrap up, we gather shoes and sweatshirts and climb in the car. We stop at a friends’ house first to pick up dinner. I brought them green garlic potato soup and mini cheesecakes yesterday, today I’m picking up bbq chicken, homemade baked beans, and lemon cake for our dinner. Sid wants to go to the beach, so we head to Rockaway, parking a block away since the beach parking is closed, and walk over in our masks.
On the beach we pull sand toys and a blanket out of the bag that lives in the car for our frequent visits. I sit with my phone in hand, writing and snapping pictures of the sunlit ocean and Sidney playing with his buckets and shovels. I check Facebook again, catching up on the what the President and our governor said in their press conferences today. Looks like restrictions will start to slowly be lifted over the coming weeks. After an hour, Sid says, “Time to go home Mama.” We pack everything up in our beach bag, and meander back to the car.
At home again, Sid plays with trucks while I do dishes. The CEO calls and we chat about the terms and decide how to respond as I pick up toys with Sid’s help and heat up our dinner, adding leftover rice and a salad of greens from the garden with cucumbers and radishes. Sidney picks at the rice and beans, and ends up having an apple, a cereal bar, and yet more milk and cheese sticks. I let him have a few bites of cake for dessert.
I relax on the couch, reading a romance novel while Sid continues to arrange his trucks and cars, stopping occasionally to play guitar or chat with me and Bear and Elmo. I text with friends about their days — the stresses of life in quarantine, of being pressed in from all sides by fear, disease, and work. Around 9:30pm, Sid says, “Time to go night night Mama.”
We give Hannah her kong with peanut butter and meds and wash a few last dishes. As I finish cleaning the kitchen, I step on a shard of glass from a bowl I dropped the night before. Me foot bleeds on the floor as I cry. Sidney gets me a napkin to wrap around it, and climbs onto my lap for a hug. “You’re ok Mama.”
We change into pajamas, brush our teeth, and get into bed. Sid gets three books — tonight it is “Night Night Struction Site,” “The House in the Night,” and “Max.” We both know all of these by heart, so I ask him to “read” some of the pages to me too. Finally we curl up in bed, me reading my novel on my kindle while he tosses and turns and eventually falls asleep on his belly with his butt in the air.
Around 11pm, I go back out into the living room. I clean up the last of the toys, eat the rest of the cake, and finish my writing for the night. I make my daily Facebook post.
"Day 62. Not so bad as Mondays go.
“Had a nice conversation with my aunt to start the morning off, then jumped straight into work. 5.5 hours of work calls between 10am and 5pm while Sid played and watched TV. Quick beach trip, a delicious dinner gifted to us by a dear friend, writing, and some chores.
"I stepped on a shard of something and my foot is bleeding. I’ll live, and Sidney kissed it to make it feel better."
If I am being honest, these past couple weeks, it has been difficult for me (self-isolation) you wake up only to repeating what you did yesterday. On the bright side, I being self-isolating with my daughter who is 13 months old. Sometimes I struggled to entertain my girl, who were still full of energy, things that you never pay attention before you notice! My daughter has such a joyful attitude she likes to sing alone, being funny, talkative and will point out what she wants. She also loves cleaning (She probably saw me doing it every day.), she enjoys reading books especially “The very hungry caterpillar by an Eric Carle” every day. I enjoy every moment with her. We painted, we sing, we danced together, etc. during this difficult times i discover happiness is right next to you and enjoys what you have.
You are Not Alone (Part 2)
*Correction: losing track of time is not the worst thing that can happen, losing a loved one would be. what you did, what you learned, what you have been thinking about.
Hello, I am Jasmin, please call me Jaz. I am 20 years old and my whole world has been turned upside down by COVID-19. Before the world went into quarantine, I was starting my Spring semester with full excitement. I am a student athlete and playing sports has always been a big part of my life. It is my go to for stress relief and one of my passions. Now that all collegiate sports have been cancelled, I feel as if I have no reason to get into shape. What's the point? If I feel like I cannot go outside in peace, with everyone on the tv, radio, and social media, telling to "Stay Home." It becomes overwhelming. The repeated action of only leaving your home to go to work or to buy groceries, or pick up perceptions. Having people yelling at you because you were able to get toilet paper and now they have run out. Remembering to have your mask and gloves, an extra mask, oh and don't forget the hand sanitizer.
The corona virus has put a mental strain on my family and our relationships. My parents are easily frustrated and you cannot ask my father a question without him getting angry at you. At the start of all of this we considered moving to Pennsylvania, until this all died down. But now the more I think about it, the more I realize that this will not go away for a while. We will be isolated in our homes for longer than we expect and I pray that no one in my family passes away due to this virus. Death is something that I myself do not fear. "If I die, I die", that's the way I see it. Now what really affects me if the death of others. Knowing how may people have died from this horrible virus. Families broken, children orphaned, and especially for me the mourning of strangers. I've always been extremely sensitive and although I usually have a serious expression on my face, I cry a lot. I cry and pray for those who are on the front lines, for the families who have been broken, for those who cannot be treated. I pray for everyone to get well and for nurses and doctors to get back home safe and sound to their families. Thank you to those who are on the front lines.
We are social beings and must stick together to get through these tough times. We just have to hold on a little longer. Our world has been changed by the virus and we might never recover, but we can make the best of it and learn something new, create art or music, learn how to cook or build stuff. Be kind to one another, stay healthy, and try to make things fun even though it feel as if the world is coming to an end.
Corona and love for Family/Friends
Corona has really taught me the true meaning on love/importance of family and friends. Not to say that I did not love my family and friends beforehand. It's just, being quarantined and under so much fear due to Corona really made that love and appreciation come out.
Before Corona I was moving 200 miles a minute it felt. I had 3 jobs, school full time, plus I am a high school football and basketball coach. I was always somewhere and felt like I never had time to give to my family and friends. Even when I was with them, I felt like I wasn't fully there. I would be at a family function and my phone would be going off the hook for work, have to leave early for a practice or meeting, etc. It was always something that kept me from giving my full attention to the people I love and care about. It made me feel very shallow and not okay. Obviously, once quarantine started my life severely slowed down. Only one of my jobs was deemed essential, all my classes were moved to online and obviously schools are closed so I couldn't coach. I went from going crazy every day to having to only work 3 days a week. That significant cutback left me with more time to focus on other things.
I live at home and the first thing that happened was that I became closer to my parents. This meant a whole lot to me because since I have moved back home we really have not been that close. I would typically eat out most nights either with friends or a date. Obviously with all the restaurants closed I could not do that. Therefore, the first night I ate dinner just my parents and I. It was fantastic. We talked and laughed our butts off like we haven't in years. Was a very special night for me. Then after that we started to watch movies during quarantine, play board games, talk about life etc. My love really grew more so for them along did my appreciation. I started to appreciate all of the little things they do for me such as most good parents do. The most interesting off all was I started to understand their way of thinking more. Up until this point my parents and I have certainly butted heads on our views to say the least. I am very grateful that at least this one positive came about from quarantine.
My appreciation and understanding the importance/responsibility of raising or watching kids also became stronger due to Corona. During this time period I had a niece who was born. Before she came my family was very strict with me about quarantining, washing my hands, keeping away from people etc. It was because they knew that I would be watching my niece and helping take care of her all the time. I am not going to lie at first I did not really understand that and thought they were just plain old crazy. However now, I totally get it. The best way I can describe it is that the second my niece was born and she came home, I was holding her and just instantly felt a feeling of protection and that I would never want to do anything to hurt her. I can only imagine if it was my own kid lol.
The way quarantine got me to appreciate my friends more was simple. Once all this happened I wasn't sure if my friends were "True friends" in the fact that I didn't know if they would still stay in contact with me or not. To say the least this was the farthest from the truth. My friends and I face-timed everyday, had zoom happy hours along with numerous other things to still stay in contact. It meant a lot and made me appreciate them even more.
All in all, Corona really made me appreciate life an my relationships more so than I ever did beforehand.
Every day around 5pm we go for a walk.
I wear gray fleece lined boots or blue Birkenstocks that wrap around my big toes, depending on the weather. Sidney runs around looking for his navy rain boots on even the sunniest days. Usually we don sweatshirts, sometimes a dress or a t-shirt and sweatpants if we haven’t gotten dressed yet. Lately it’s been sunny and clear and beautiful, allowing us to spend a lot of time naked in the backyard. Hannah starts following me closely the moment I put my shoes or jacket on.
Sid insists on bringing Bear and Elmo. “Just Elmo,” I say. “Or just Bear.”
“No both. Mommy, both please. Just this time.”
“Ok fine.” I shrug. He’s an easy child, entertaining himself with play doh, trucks, digging in the backyard, drawing, and YouTube while I struggle through work calls and emails and Slack ≥÷’/;.conversations trying to accomplish something concrete. I’ll end up carrying Bear and Elmo, along with sidewalk chalk, hand sanitizer, water, and a strawberry cereal bar, in the black New Yorker tote bag I got for free with the annual subscription I treated myself to just before this all started.
I grab Hannah’s retractable leash, check to make sure we have enough poop bags, and clip it to her blue flowered collar. “Time to go, Sid.” Hannah’s leash in one hand, tote bag slung over my shoulder, I open the door and we venture outside. “Do you want to see the water or the animals today?” I ask.
“Uh, this way.” Sid starts to walk to the left, towards San Pedro Creek, which we can see rushing under the street through a chain link fence a few houses down.
“Don’t you want to see the chickens and sheep? And check if the horses are there?” To the right there's a longer walk, a mile loop that takes us next to a ranch and a 4H cluster of sheds and coops, past a community garden and through the grounds of the old Linda Mar School.
“Uh ok. Ok mommy.” Sid clambers onto the low stone pedestals ringing our front yard, balancing as he hops from one to the next, clutching Elmo in one hand and Bear in the other as pulls his long pink dress out of the way. “Hand Mommy.” He demands, holding his hand up for me to grab.
We start to move slowly down the street, waiting for Hannah to sniff until she finds a place to pee. We count cars and talk about animals. “How many eyes does a horse have?” I ask.
“Hmm. How many eyes do I have?” I point. “One. Two.”
"How many eyes do you have?” I ask.
“Uh one. Two.” He points at each eye.
“That’s right Sidney! Good job!”
“Good job Sidney!” He says, grinning at me.
“How may eyes do Elmo and Bear have?” I wait while he counts. “Two each! That’s right! Now, how many eyes do horses have?”
“Uh.” He thinks about it for a while. “Three?”
I laugh, and he giggles back at me. “I think you know!”
“Uh, two? Two Mommy?”
“That’s right Sid. Horses have two eyes.,”
We repeat this conversation about arms and legs, fingers and toes (or hoofs as the case my be) with horses, chickens, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, and dinosaurs as we continue to walk. We walk through the development, small houses built in the fifties in three different layouts, though many have been built up or back to add bedrooms and offices. We pass yards full of flowers and succulents, and I let Sidney pick the ones that grow like weeds — bright yellow and purple flowers with long thin petals cropping up from ice plants, sweet smelling jasmine cascading off fences, fluffy orange poppies filling gaps in landscaping. I tell him to smell them, what they are named, and how to grow them as we walk.
Our neighbors hang out in driveways or open garages, working on woodworking projects or cleaning cars. We nod and smile, keeping our social distance intact. People coming toward us usually step off the sidewalk to go around us, probably because they feel bad for me dragging a dog and a toddler around. But sometimes they just keep coming, and I step off or wait in a driveway, holding Sid’s hand tightly and telling Hannah to stay. We get a lot of greetings, questions about the dog, and “He’s so cute!” or “Looks like you got your hands full there!” We pass wind chimes and tiny windmills, dogs barking at us from behind fences, trees full of lemons and blossoms of fruit to come.
Finally we reach the top of a small hill, straight up the street about two blocks from our house. We pause and look back at the Linda Mar valley spread below us, filled with houses and trees, and the Vallemar hills on the other side with the empty expanse of the ocean in between. The bright blue sky stretches endlessly in front of us.
Hannah rests in the grass in the shade for a moment, while Sidney stops to commune with a fire hydrant. “Hello fire hydrant! How are you?” He says in a sing song voice.
“Sid, what do fire hydrants do?” I ask him.
“They put out fires! With water Mama. The hose goes here.” He pats the hydrant and I cringe, though it’s highly unlikely anyone has touched that spot in the last few days.
“Ok guys. Let’s keep going.” I tug on Hannah’s leash and she slowly gets up, her hips swaying slightly as she regains her balance. This used to be an easy walk for her, but now I sometimes have a hard time getting her to keep moving.
“Bye bye fire hydrant! See you tomorrow fire hydrant!” Sidney sings as we walk onward.
We pass an apartment building, the Sea View though there’s no way you can see the ocean from it, and walk along a path through a fence onto a backroad by the ranch. I’ve seen dead things decomposing just off of this path, though not recently, so I keep Hannah on a tight lease and tell Sidney to stay close.
On the other side of the fence, we walk on a paved road, veering to the side when the occasional car passes by. The 4H buildings come up on our right, and we stop by the chain link to see who’s out today. Five sheep wonder around their corral, baa-ing at us furiously and following the sounds of our voices if we move. Baby goats leap around. We saw them when they were just four days old, and we’ve seen them almost every day since. They’re now about a month old, still gangly and small but gaining mass quickly. And there’s a black pig. I wonder if it’s lonely without any other pigs around. Sidney counts the sheep, and the goats, and tries to count the chickens and the white turkeys, but they all look the same so it’s hard. He demands Bear and Elmo from the tote bag, and shows them the animals too.
Once we’ve had our fill of the animals, we keep going. We’re walking down a gentle incline, cypress trees lining the road on one side, the community garden on the other. Finally we get to the pasture where we sometimes see horses. It’s pretty hit or miss, since they have the whole ranch to wander around on and find good grazing spots, but we’re lucky today: the field is full of horses, ten or fifteen in all different shapes and sizes. Sidney spots them from afar. “Mommy! The horses! I’m so excited Mommy!”
I grab his hand before he can run across the street. Together we cross and stand in front of the fence. “So excited Mommy! The horses are here! There’s a white one and a brown one and a green one!" We talk about how many eyes and feet and chins and noses they have.
It’s hard to tear him away from the horses, but it’s time to head towards home. I can feel the tiredness threatening to overwhelm me. I almost give in to the temptation to sit on the ground and rest, but instead we walk up and over a path by the school.
“What’s that?” I ask Sidney, pointing towards a sign by the building doors.
“Uh, a leopard? Not a tiger. Not a kitty cat.” Linda Mar Leopards, featuring a mosaic of a leopard amongst blue and green tiles.
“That’s right Sid, good job.”
“And not a turtle.”
“That’s right.” I start to talk about how turtles are amphibians, while tigers and leopards and kitty cats are mammals.
“Yes, but horses are part of a different family.”
“Like our family? Like Grandma and Kaikai and Michael and Tara and Sidney and Mommy?”
“Sort of.” I pause, unsure how to explain the animal kingdom to a three year old.
I’m tugging on Hannah’s leash, trying to get her to keep going after another break relaxing in the grass. I look back in time to see Sidney catch his toe on a crack in the payment and fall headfirst. His head bounces against the cement, and I hear a sickening thud.
Still dragging Hannah, I rush over to him. He’s silent, and I pick him up and cradle him against me, rubbing his back frantically. He goes limp, curling into me and tucking his head in my neck. “:Are you ok Sidney? Sid, answer me!”
The wail finally breaks through, tears coming quickly. I hug him tighter, just glad he’s responsive for the moment. We sit down on the curb, and I hold him on my lap, dumping the bag next to me and rifling through it for hand sanitizer. Quickly I spray and scrub my hands and then pull back his head to look at it. His forehead above his right eye is dribbling blood. I swipe at it with my sanitized hands, and pull up a corner of my skirt to dab it. “Sh sh it’s ok baby. You’re going to be ok.” I can feel my heart speed up, but I also know he really is ok. He falls roughly ten times a day, so even though this is a little worse than usual, it’s not the end of the world.
Finally his sobs subside but he remains cuddled close. “Ok Sid. We gotta get home. You ready?”
“No Mama. No Mama. Please. Carry me.” He sobs again.
“Sid, I can’t carry you, the dog, and the bag. You’re too heavy for me baby."
I soothe him for another minute, and he finally agrees to let me set him on his feet. I wipe his cut again, see an egg starting to pop out.
We stumble home, Sidney clutching my hand but on his own feet, Hannah trailing behind to rest and sniff. Finally we reach our yard. I head to the trash to throw away the poop bags, meeting Sidney at the front door. He insists on putting in the door code.
Once we’re inside, I take him to the kitchen sink and we both wash our hands. It’s hard to get an upset toddler to do it for twenty seconds, so it’s just a quick wash with soap and warm water for him. I gather supplies — alcohol prep pads, calendula, ice. He cries when I wipe the cut, but pretty soon he’s happily ensconced on the couch with Blippi on YouTube, chocolate milk, and a cut up banana in a small green ceramic bowl.
The Last Time I Saw You
By the Beach
The last time I saw you, the sun was shining.
You had the brightest smile.
We had planned all week to go to one of the nurseries by the beach. After I hopped into your car, I wondered if this was a nursery I’ve already been to. When you turned into a nondescript entry, I was delighted to discover that I had never seen nor heard about this place you’ve been raving about.
“It looks small from here but they have a huge area in the back,” you said as you parked. While we walked, we traded work related stories, and you told me about your boss who was retiring. We stopped by a mandarin tree and snacked.
“The last time I was here, we ate almost the entire tree,” you giggled. “The owner was with us. He is the nicest guy.” We left with many plants, and I bought some gopher wire. On our way, just because, we stopped by a Mexican restaurant. While waiting for our takeout order, we squeezed by customers who were getting some water from the jar they had near the cashier. We shared some tortilla chips, and sampled the salsa bar. The flowering tree I bought still sits quietly out on our porch. I’m worried it won’t survive.
I didn’t think this would be the last trip of this kind we would take together.
I still remember the sound of the bell above the door that last time we got together, as we were greeted by the wonderful hostess approaching the wood screen divider. To avoid the lunch rush, we arrived right when the restaurant opened. Not wanting to make you guys wait too long, we ran past some pedestrians, accidentally bumping them.
“Sorry! Excuse us!”
You were all already seated, but I remember your smiling faces.
“Sorry we’re late, parking was a nightmare.”
“No worries at all! They seated us and we were just about to order.”
The service, as always, was excellent, and we traded news, both personal and global. We wondered if the new virus was going to be more like the flu before vaccines, or like the mumps. We took group photos as we usually do, and we all left wondering what’s in store for us.
At the Hospital
This wasn’t like all the other times. Something about the day felt special. For once, the drive to the hospital wasn’t filled with anxiety and dread.
While passing the basketball court, I noted how all the people walking were so close together, quickly passing through, and how often people actually played basketball there.
We had been scheduling this tour for awhile.
Looking into the teardrops of the microscope, I thought about how my grandpa had diabetes, and how long it takes for medicine to make it through from here. You made an offhand comment about how this equipment could theoretically be used for testing the novel virus.
When it came time for my blood draw, you graciously walked me down the hall in the building across the walkway. We parted, and I give a small, grateful wave. As you head past the other patients in line, I couldn’t shake this odd feeling that this may be the last time we meet like this again.
The last time I had a dream about my father, I was on a mission that led me to a hotel. I didn’t expect to see him there, as he had passed away suddenly in the ER when I was eight years old. My dream self remembered that.
“What are you doing here?” He asked, looking slightly scared but happy at the same time.
“I was sent on a mission,” I replied. I wanted to hug him. Is this where he’s been the whole time?
“Okay, but you don’t belong here. You can’t stay too long. I have to go,” He zipped up his backpack. A light hit his glasses and hid the emotion from his eyes. “I’m happy to see you, just not again too soon okay?”
Okay. I miss him, but I’ve been okay.
It was time for him, and me, to go. There was hardly any time to say goodbye.
When I woke from anesthesia, it was still foggy. I couldn’t stand. The phone told me that we are supposed to be sheltering in place. When we finally made it home, we didn’t leave for awhile.
Remember the time we felt like going to the beach, and just drove there?
Remember the time we beat the restaurant rush, then took our time while others waited?
Remember how annoyed I got, when a stranger accidentally bumped my shoulder?
Remember when waiting rooms were packed full of people, and you could hear their conversations?
Remember when we said, “This was fun, let’s do it again!”
For all the things I thought I’d miss, my heart chose to loop on these moments. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye then. I’m not sure I will ever be ready. Even now.
As I carefully unpack the most recent grocery delivery, between the mix of latex and sharp whiff of disinfectant, I’m interrupted by a welcomed memory of when we last met. A hint of sun peeks through the window, and slices to my core.
The last time I saw you, I knew things would change, because that’s humanity’s constant. What I didn’t know was that the change would come swift and heavy, the initial wave before the grand tsunami. Faster than I ever expected, but tortuously slow in its uncertainty. As we step through the eye of the storm, at the same time but separately, I wonder what it will be like when we meet again.