2021 can’t seem to come quickly enough. Not that anything miraculous will occur on Jan. 1, 2021, but one can hope.
It feels like all the virtuous fairies and Saints, the good Darma, positive returns from the Universe, and even God abandoned us in 2020.
For me and my family, we were only 15 days into 2020 when my Mom passed. She was ready, her death was peaceful, we were with her, and we are doing OK today, so it was a “good death” as the nurses told us. (You can read about her passing HERE.) But still, to lose your Mom…
Not even a month after her death, Covid-19 arrived, and Dad’s ALF began a quarantine that lasted nearly 6 months. Dad was broken-hearted after losing Mom and being alone in his room for many months, without the presence of family, took an awful toll on him. We checked in by phone and Echo Show, but I did not see the full decline until the Florida Governor lifted restrictions to ALF’s on Sept. 1, and I went to see Dad.
He was 20 pounds thinner, lethargic, and had developed a bedsore from being so confined to this room. My sister and brother-in-law drove down from MD to help us nurse him back to health. By the grace of God, Dad did rebound and is doing better 3 months later. He will not gain everything back, but he is stable and on occasion, we see some of the old spark.
Mom’s death, Covid, and Dad’s decline were personal sorrows. During those same months, national and global events weighed us down further.
Early in the year, Australia suffered devastating bush fires, destroying more than a billion tender animals; starting in August, and as of this week, over 9,000 fires have burned more than 4% of California’s roughly 100 million acres of land. They are still not fully under control.
Kobe Bryant and his young daughter were lost to us, as was the iconic Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In May, George Floyd was taken from us in a horrific way, sparking months of valid, but often destructive social unrest.
This month, we’ve had a presidential election that has ended in more discord and distrust.
All the while, Covid, in recurring waves, has caused great economic disruption, loss of jobs, and loss of life.
It’s been hard to not see our two young grandsons, hard to be isolated at home for so many months, hard to have gained the Covid-15 pounds. Ugh.
But, every day, the sun has risen, and Dad’s small yellow rose bush has continued to bloom.
The truth is, God has not promised us a pain-free life. He has not promised us a fair life. He has simply promised to be with us through all of it. Pandemics, firestorms, social chaos, financial devastations, death.
This year, of all years, is a reminder that God is eternal, and life on this planet is temporary.
Maybe that’s the lesson here. We have only so much time to be our best selves, to improve things for those around us, to discharge kindness and sacrifice into the world. No one on their death bed wishes they had argued more with family, or crushed a rival, or gained more possessions to leave behind. I have been with four loved ones as they reached heaven’s door, and all were undisturbed and tranquil. In our final hours, we are humble and small. Why can’t we live that way?
In all the suffering this year, there are still blessings to be found. Here are a few of ours…
1. I am so grateful Mom has moved on from this life and is not here, confused by Covid and lockdowns. She is free and at peace.
2. I am so grateful we are able to visit Dad daily after nearly 6 months. I’m not sure he would have lived much longer had we not been admitted into his ALF. (March 2022 UPDATE: Dad passed away 19 days after I wrote this post.)
3. I am so grateful we were able to acquire private help for Dad in the evenings. Our care of him was taking a toll on us, and I thank God for his sweet evening caregiver.
4. I am so grateful for my siblings and their spouses. They have driven 14 hours to see Dad – a grueling trip – and their presence has been such a blessing to all of us.
5. I am grateful for the workers at Dad’s ALF – they are underpaid and overworked, and we can’t even give them hugs at this time. Baked goods have to suffice.
6. I am so grateful there is no Covid in our immediate or extended family. We’re all behaving with masks and such, but this virus is tricky.
7. I’m grateful there are scientists at work on Covid vaccines. They may not be perfect or available to everyone right away, but progress is being made.
8. I’m loving the November weather here in FL. I’m outside with Dad every morning, and with the breeze that flows through the pavilion on the ALF grounds, I’m reminded that the Holy Spirit is always moving and providing our very breath.
9. On a lighter note, I am loving the Masterpiece Theater series Poldark. I’d never heard of it (based on a book series by Winston Graham), but the hubs and I are hooked. Takes place in post-revolution Cornwall, the filming/scenery is beautiful, and the main characters are lovingly flawed and wonderful.
10. I’m grateful central FL had no major hurricanes this season. We are not always so lucky.
11. Our daughter was accepted to PA (Physician’s Assistant) school in Oct. She will start in May. She left her teaching career after 13 years to pursue a different path, and to date, God has opened every door. She is currently working as a medical assistant in an urgent care clinic, doing….Covid testing.
12. Our little grandsons are coming to FL for Christmas (with their parents, of course) and I’m so looking forward to smooching on those boys.
13. I’ve developed a back problem, but I’ve also discovered prednisone. I have an MRI on Friday to determine the problem but in the meantime…I’m grateful for the miracle drug prednisone. I know it can’t be for long-term use, and I’ll whine about that later, but for now…ahhh.
14. Thanksgiving will be a small, quiet affair here in the Ballpark. We’re having deli turkey sandwiches, and I’m making orange salad and apple dumplings. Easiest menu ever, and I’m grateful.
15. The hubs ordered this for me recently. For years, I’ve wanted a mop that would suck up the water/dirt without smearing it around. It seems like there wasn’t such a thing. Until now. I’m a happy girl.
16. I’m grateful for the talent of Lin-Manual Miranda. In July, we purchased Disney+ for one month and watched Hamilton six times. (My tribute to the production HERE.)
Never has American history been so interesting. LOVED the music and continue to listen to the soundtrack by way of YouTube. Thank you, Lin, for sharing your many gifts. Covid-July was more bearable with King George continuing to predict “You’ll be back.”
17. Earlier this year, our oldest son discovered he has a genetic eye malformation, but luckily there are special (though expensive) contact lenses that correct the issue. Science, technology, and smart minds in the medical field – thank you.
18. I’m grateful for Sudoko. I have spent hours this year filling those little boxes. With communal activities canceled or discouraged, juggling numbers has helped pass the time. Sudoko, my brain thanks you.
19. Dark malted milk balls. I believe these are my favorite treat in all the world. I am grateful for them every year. I can only find them at Fresh Market, which is a bit away from me, so distance prevents me from indulging too often. This is another thing I should be grateful for.
20. And, as always, I am so grateful God is God, and I am not. The world is quite a mess, but God is not surprised or daunted. His love for us is our only hope for change and healing.
To all creatures great and small, have a peaceful and grateful Thanksgiving!