I saw recently that the Bishop of Paisley said imposing quarantine restrictions on Christmas would destroy people’s hope.
Mister, you wanna talk about hope?
When I gave birth to my daughter 9 years ago, my mother was strong and healthy, and looked the same as she had pretty much my whole life. (I mean that literally. The woman defied time.) She worked a job that would bring younger people (definitely me!) to their knees, yet still had enough energy to stay on the go in her down time.
The first time she was hospitalized, she thought she had a cold. Maybe a sinus infection. But she had an important out-of-town meeting to attend, and a lot of people were counting on her. So she went, despite feeling ill — and almost didn’t come home.
She doesn’t work anymore, of course. She retired shortly after that trip. But she’s sick now; she has rheumatoid arthritis, lung issues resulting from a MAC infection (a severe lung infection that people with immune issues are susceptible to), thyroid and blood pressure issues, heart disease, and COPD. She’s on oxygen most of the time, and takes more medications than I can count. She weighs less than I did when people accused me of being anorexic. Her once toast-colored skin is now comparable to my Irish pallor. I’ve lost count of the times she’s been close to death since that trip. She would not, her doctor has asserted, survive the coronavirus.
I have lived these past 5 years with the knowledge that every holiday, every birthday, every Saturday morning and Tuesday afternoon may be the last I get to spend with my mom. I was policing the kids with a thermometer and a symptom checklist long before any of us knew what a coronavirus was. And now I walk a tightrope between wanting to stay away so she can live and spending what time I can with her before she dies. So many opportunities have already passed us by for good, and I’m watching what may be the last of them slip through my fingers.
We’re planning a Zoomsgiving this year. Each of us eating in our homes, connected through video calls. I haven’t thought ahead to Christmas much yet. It’s too hard to make plans these days, I tell the children. But in reality, I am paralyzed by indecision. Should we pass on the in-person visit, to keep her safe? Or should we have a brief, masked get-together, in case it’s the last Christmas we ever spend together?
I have been assuring my children that the current circumstances aren’t forever. That one day, we’ll resume our normal lives. That we’ll shop in stores again, go to school, visit street fairs, participate in classes and camps, play with friends, have family dinners. I’m just hoping my mom lives to see that day.
What would give me hope is declining numbers. What would give me hope is if people would stay the hell home, and take the proper precautions when they must go out.
When I started this post, I was in a dark place. I usually stay out of the dim corners — keeping busy is a great way to keep your mind from what-ifing you to death. But every so often, usually when I’m tired and not feeling well, the corners find me. I’m feeling a lot better now, though, partly because those feelings pass, but mostly because of the election. This election restored my crumbling faith in my country and my fellow citizens.
Biden gives me hope.
There’s no magic wand that will banish the coronavirus, but I believe that Biden will lead us out of the pandemic as best he can: with facts, with science, with an emphasis on human life over financial gain. Biden knows loss. He knows what’s at stake — moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents, friends. And he knows that the only way we’ll ever move past this virus is if we contain it.
If we contain it, maybe I’ll get to spend next Thanksgiving with my mom by my side.
I can hope.
I have hope.