February 21, 2021
I bought new “guest” towels yesterday. We remodeled my bathroom and the color scheme changed from pink and grey to light green and grey. So, I bought some grey guest towels at Target yesterday. (It wouldn’t be hospitable to have our guests use regular white towels!). But I have no idea if and when we will have other humans in our home again.
Steve and I are, as of today, 95% immune to the Coronavirus, having received our second vaccination on February 7th. Theoretically, we could have guests again within the walls of our home instead of visiting outside. But we have no friends or family who have also been immunized and even Dr. Fauci doesn’t know what the guidelines should be after one is vaccinated. He implied, in one of his more recent statements, that, after vaccination, we should use our judgment regarding contact with others and urged everyone to still wear masks and maintain a distance, even when around family.
The last time our family of nine were all together was in February 2020 when we all shared a beach house in Lincoln City for the weekend. Five adults and four children ages 7, 12, 15, and17. There were rumors about a dangerous virus making its way to our country, and as we prepared to go out to dinner, the two youngest children were coughing. We were concerned about going to a restaurant because we didn’t want other patrons to be concerned about catching the virus. We went anyway and no one seemed to care.
Since then, we have been in various states of Lockdown, Sequestering, Quarantine. We have seen our family in driveways and on patios and in cold garages, always six feet away, always wearing masks.
I am ready for my children and grandchildren to walk freely into our home, to hold them tightly for an uncomfortably long hug, and then just hang out (without masks), visiting, sitting on the couch, eating snacks. I want my youngest grandsons to sit in the corner on the floor behind the couch as usual playing games on their phones. Or perhaps they will go out to the three-season porch and play with their Hot Wheels. I want to watch my son, seated in my Fjord chair, work on his computer while we engage in idle chatter and laugh together about some strangely humorous topic. I want my daughter to snuggle up next to me on the couch where we will discuss whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t matter at all what we talk about.
I want my husband to proudly give a tour around the house so that everyone can see the home improvement projects he has thrown himself into while weathering the isolation during this pandemic.
I want to stand in the kitchen with my daughter-in-law, preparing snacks and visiting together, maybe washing dishes, talking about the most recent books we have been reading, or we may discuss politics. Or religion. Or how many apples to peel for the fruit salad.
I want to see my oldest grandson Brendan sitting in front of the fireplace, playing on his phone and want to bug him like I always do by engaging him in conversation. I know that he will put his device down and give me full attention because he is such an easy-going, amicable and polite man-child.
I feel as if I have missed out on an entire year of my grandchildren’s development. Because I have. Daniel has turned thirteen years old and, over the past year, his voice has lowered two octaves and he has a little mustache. He holds his head high with confidence and now fills the room with positive energy with his easy smile and laugh, unlike the sullen withdrawn sixth grader I knew before the pandemic. His eight-year-old brother Zach has grown two sizes, has shed some of his shyness, and has decided that he will eat more “regular” food (meaning anything besides grilled cheese sandwiches and cereal). Zach is my “hugger” and it’s been hard for both of us to stand far apart when I drop by their home for a visit.
I have been watching Brendan from afar as he continues to develop into an amazingly bright and funny junior in high school and I have barely seen Lucy this past year as she blossomed into the brave young woman who is now back East attending college. (There will be a huge Lucy-shaped hole in our home when my family comes for their first visit.)
I’ve listened to and watched my two adult children and their partners navigate the challenges of raising children during the pandemic. I have admired their ability to flexibly incorporate their children’s virtual educational activities into their daily routines. Steve and I have been as supportive as we can be from afar, but it’s been difficult. I have experienced waves of helplessness, knowing that there really is nothing we can do beyond providing financial assistance if needed. But I can’t physically be present for them.
My daughter bought a new home, and I could not even pack one box for her. She had to maneuver and organize the entire move alone.
So, thank you Dr. Fauci, but NO.
I need to be with Zach and Daniel and Brendan and Lucy and Tiffany and Beth and Jonathan. I miss their touch, their smiles, their presence. It’s been almost a year. And it’s almost time.