In the best of times, April can be a challenging month for me. Greg and I were married on April 20, he died on April 24, my mom died on April 23, and my brother on April 30. This year I faced those challenging milestones while staying at home, isolated from friends and most of my family.
I’m convinced when I look back on my life, this time of pandemic isolation will be remembered as one of the most surreal things I’ve endured – even considering what I went through in the six months of caring for Greg and watching him die. I’ve cried more in the past few weeks than I have in the past twelve months combined and find it hard not to lash out and hard to manage my emotions.
I’m angry – at our president for his complete inability to lead, at people who don’t exhibit any etiquette when walking and biking, at people spreading misinformation, at people who have been hoarding, and at the people in the grocery store refusing to wear a mask.
I’m sad – that so many weddings of friends and family this year had to be cancelled, that I might not get to see my kids all year, that I haven’t been able to exercise with my girlfriends on Fridays, that I can’t go out to dinner with friends, that I had to cancel my annual Italy trip, and that I can’t do the volunteer work I love so much right now.
And I’m actually scared – that either David or I will get COVID and possibly not survive it, that my kids or grandson might get sick, that my son’s business might falter, that any of my kids might lose their jobs, and that the damage to our economy will cause such a collapse that my savings will no longer be sufficient to support me.
When Greg was sick, I learned that focusing on what I’m grateful for, instead of what I was grieving about, helped to lift my spirits. As April slowly came to a close, the stay at home order extended for at least another week, I realized it was time to shift my thoughts from these grievances to gratitude if I had any chance at remaining emotionally intact through this pandemic.
Writing things down helps me cement them into thoughts, so here I go. These are some of the things I’m grateful for:
For my ability to cook for myself and my loved ones
That my kids are all employed and healthy
For the ability to “see” friends and family on virtual hangouts
That I can still support my nonprofits through things I do from home
For Number Four and the emotional support he so generously gives me
That I am healthy and can take longs walks or ride my bike
For all of the humor I see floating around the Internet
That I’m not struggling financially or to put food on the table
They say that sometimes you receive gifts from grief – I certainly experienced that during Greg’s illness. During this difficult time, the biggest gift I’ve been given is time with my grandson.
I’m babysitting him four days a week to help out his parents who are trying to work from home. As soon as he arrives each day he heads straight to my freezer, pulls out a muffin or pancake, puts it in the microwave, and hits the button to defrost it – all by himself.
We spend our days making a fort under the big pine tree in front of my house, “fishing” in the pond behind my house, or throwing rocks into the waterfalls in the neighborhood.
Number Four and I take him on long walks, we play the piano, and we bake cookies together. We toss the football back and forth – he has a quarterback’s throw but hasn’t mastered catching the ball yet.
He helps me put away the clean dishes and loves to load the laundry into the washer and dryer. I help him learn to peddle his tricycle and ride his new scooter. We draw shapes on the chalkboard Number Four helped me make for him and practice counting and the alphabet.
He is developing an amazing vocabulary and talks with his hands like I do. Whenever I need to go upstairs or downstairs, he yells out, “Mimi, can I come with you?!” and bounces up or down the stairs ahead of me.
If I sneeze, he says “Bless you Mimi” with a sweet smile on his face. When he sees me struggling with something, he notices immediately and tells me, “You can do it Mimi. You’re a strong girl.” I melted when he said, “Thank you Mimi for being so nice to me.”
Although I’m likely never going to get the theme song from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show out of my head, it’s so worth it to have this time with him.
This sweet boy came into my life at a time when I desperately needed some happiness, and he continues to bring me joy every single day I’m with him. For this special time together, I’m so grateful.