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.
The Last Time I saw You
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, he appeared unexpectedly in the middle of my adventure. In my dream world, I was on a mission that led me to a hotel high in the mountains, surrounded by fog, near the clouds. 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.
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