"I have suffered," lament others.
"Children's development has been severely impacted," we hear.
"Old people have lost a precious year," is also popular.
I am in that last category. Last week, for the first time in more than a year, my grandchildren, 9 and 5, came over. They dashed for the cat, Pumpkin, who responded with purrs and rubs. Who knew he missed them? I thought he'd been happy alone with me.
They walked around my home. What is new? they asked. I thought about it. Not much, I responded. I'd made a point to have yogurt raisins in the fridge and all the ingredients for smoothies, staples at Grandma's that they remembered.
Two jigsaw puzzles were new, which I'd bought for us to enjoy together. All year I kept telling myself it was time to update the grandkids' photos on the shelves but somehow I never got around to it. After all, I've been busy. So many books to read; so many videos to stream; so many friends and relatives to call and FaceTime. And, of course, so many people to interview and stories to write for the Weekly.
The next day my daughter asked if I would like to take a walk while the kids were in school. Would I?! Let's go!
We met at the trailhead of a favorite two-mile trek along a creek, and I started off, mask in hand in case we saw others, at my usual trudge. My daughter, on the other hand, took off like a jackrabbit.
"Whoa! Why are you walking so fast?" I called out, panting.
"This is my usual speed," she said over her shoulder. "OUR usual speed."
I picked up my pace and she slowed down hers because one point of the walk, after all, was to visit.
"Let's at least slow down while we go uphill," I suggested.
"This isn't uphill," she replied.
"It is a slight incline," I insisted, adding, "What is your hurry?"
To which she rattled off a series of errands she wanted to run before picking up the kids after their shortened school days. I remembered when my children were young and there were never enough hours in the day. I offered to return her library books, thereby saving her 10 minutes of errand-time.
We finished in record time (for me), and I waved her off after she handed me the stack of children's books.
And I was left wondering: How many ways have I slowed down during the last year? Apparently walking by myself every day I've slowed my pace. What about my mental faculties? My ability to multitask? My response time to outside events? Have I aged more in the last year than I would have if the pandemic had not happened?
My past year has been relatively easy. Although living alone, I've had friends and family on hand electronically, and Pumpkin to cuddle. Each dawn I'm kept company by a book, coffee and music, all of which combine for the relaxed contentment that comes at the start of a leisurely day.
The year was not "lost" to me by any means. It was just -- different. My niece had a baby, making my sister-in-law a grandmother, proving that life goes on, and providing a stream of darling texted photos that continue to bring me joy. Yes, it would have been nice to actually hold the little baby but I don't let myself think about that.
One bit of "wisdom" imparted to widows is that the grieving experience will make them stronger, force them to develop new skills and abilities. I've always loathed this sentiment: Did I really need new skills and abilities? I did not.
But the same could be said about the last year, and I find it more acceptable. We've all at least learned to be resilient, and to log onto Zoom. Oh, yes, and how to properly wash our hands.
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