I was tempted to put on my gloves this morning, especially when I picked up our dog’s cold soggy leash, wet from her dragging it across the grass while chasing the ball. Fall is here and the pumpkins on our vine are growing big. One in particular, looks large enough to set on the front steps—but it has not turned orange.
Normally I would be making my plans for Thanksgiving, perhaps purchasing a plane ticket, but this is not a normal year. It’s week thirty-one after the initial onslaught of the Coronavirus in the United States and in Maryland, the infection rate is holding at 3.09%. But in some parts of the nation the number of cases has started to rise and I worry the third wave will soon hit here. More people indoors during autumn and winter means a higher rate of transmission of the disease. My prediction at this time is that my husband and I will be spending Thanksgiving by ourselves, perhaps with a video camera at the table. Christmas will probably be even bleaker. I tell myself we just have to make it through to spring and gradually with the availability of a vaccine for frontline workers and better treatments, things will start to turn around.
Like many families in America, our children’s lives have led them to settle in different places. The physically closest, second oldest son, lives four hours away in Virginia. During the summer I was visiting my two grandchildren, ages two and five, virtually every week on Zoom—reading them books— but now they are in school and their days are busy. Exposed to more social contacts, they may be carriers of the virus. Is it safe to visit in person? In theory, with a superfluous amount of energy my husband and I could leave our house at sunrise, partake in a socially distanced visit, and drive home in the afternoon. Or we can just continue to visit by computer. I’m certain many families are in a similar situation.
My eldest son lives with his wife and teenage daughter in Jakarta, Indonesia. His wife is pregnant and due in December. He’s sent us ultrasound photos and I’d love to be there to hold this new grandson in my arms, but for now I am just wishing he arrives into the world safely. Perhaps when he turns one year old, we’ll be able to celebrate together. Initially I was worried about them living in a Third World Country during a global pandemic—a multi-island nation prone to floods and earthquakes— but at least in Indonesia, citizens have enough sense to consistently wear masks.
In some ways, my daughter living in northern California, is living in the most dangerous place. Within three miles of where she and her husband live, up until a few weeks ago there have been raging forest fires , and they’ve been told to be ready to evacuate. Thick with smoke, at intermittent intervals over the past few months the outside air is hazardous to breathe and they are not allowed to use their stoves. Confined indoors they worked from home and ate cold food.
This is the daughter we were planning to have a big wedding celebration for at our house in March with the entire family. We’d sent out the invitations, made the arrangements but of course had to cancel our plans due to safety concerns. She still has not had the opportunity to wear her fancy wedding dress with the long train or throw a bouquet, but she and her husband have started their married life together with hopes that one day we’ll still have that big party.
Compared to many Americans we are the lucky ones. We have a lot to be thankful for. The precautions adopted to stay safe from contracting the coronavirus are a small inconvenience. Many people don’t have enough to eat or a place to sleep.
Whenever our family gathers together to celebrate a holiday, we go around the table one by one and share one or two things we are thankful for. So here it goes. I am thankful for my health and the health of my family. I am thankful I have a safe place to write each and every day.
With gratitude, I challenge myself each morning to do one thing a little better than I did the previous day.