Ice Storms and COVID Times…

Remember the Ice Storms of the 1990’s… for me the Ice Storm of 1991 is more engrained in my brain.  I was 9 years old, actually I was days away from my 9th birthday.   I was about the age of my girls now, and I am sure I was rocking big ugly moon boots and mittens my grandma had knitted for me.  Those were the days…

It was my Grandma Connor’s birthday and we were at her house, enjoyed cake and celebrated, when we left it was dark and cold.  We lived 3 blocks from my grandparent’s house growing up, and for some reason when we left Grandma’s celebration my dad decided to walk us home and mom drove the giant station wagon home.  I remember the walk, walking across the crick bridge and through the Brown Mansion yard, down Brown Blvd and over Warren Street, a left onto Franklin and home.  I remember this eerie silence/sound, and I clearly remember my dad saying this wasn’t good.  My brain could not understand how ice sticking to the limbs was a big deal, so I just went home and to bed hoping for a snow day.

I woke up that next day to the most beautiful scene outside my window.  I stood in my night gown and looked out on the trees leaning toward the ground encased in ice, it was so pretty.  Everything was leaning and combining, and it was shiny and grey.  There was no school, best day ever!

I remember there was no power, and as I started to understand there was to be no travel.  The roads were full of power lines and limbs and danger, but I didn’t know that part.  I didn’t think of the essential employees out there navigating those dangerous roads to keep people safe.  I never really thought about the people who would have to fix those power lines and restore safety and electricity.  I never thought about those who had no back up heat or food for an event like this.  I didn’t consider the amount of money families lost when they could not earn an income, or the loss of business and restaurants.  I didn’t think of those lonely and chilly seniors at the home… I didn’t know to be worried, the grownups around me didn’t make me feel worry, and thankfully I was in a safe and loving environment with enough.

I do remember… being at my grandmothers gathered around a kerosene heater, playing card games with my cousins, listening to the scanner in the kitchen.  I remember that our family grocery store had to clear out the freezers and the food was split between the shelter at the Firehouse and other places.  I remember popsicles and food stored outside on my grandmas back porch stairs… and in that pile of food from the freezers at Brenon’s Grocery was a plethora of foods that my mom NEVER bought for us, super treat foods.  I remember enjoying my very first corn dog that day, and I remember Aunt Janes being in the kitchen at the same moment.  I remember my dad being out a bunch, helping people who had pumps in their basements.

I don’t remember one bad thing from that time, and I am sure there was plenty of scary and hard.   I remember togetherness and creativity and familiar.  I remember gathering and laughing, missing school after the initial time and looking forward to normal returning by the end.  I remember the day we went back to school… I remember the return to normalcy.

These COVID times aren’t the same in any way, these are more isolating and strange in many ways.  There is nothing outside my house, that I can see, that is keeping me home.  There are no downed power lines and heavy tree branches… but instead a virus that is the danger.  It is harder to stay isolated in a world where the danger is invisible… invisible until you see it and the terror it brings.  Those essential workers are on the front lines… fighting this invisible danger.  Thank God we have those front line responders… though they aren’t all the same ones from 1991.

I am working VERY hard to create that experience for my girls… that one day they will look back at these COVID times and recall togetherness and laughter, Facetime with family members, school work remotely, daily walks and adventures, art projects and cooking dinners.  I imagine they will reflect on the fact that they barely showered… and drove me crazy burping everywhere.  I imagine when they grow up they will tell their kiddos about the quietest St. Patrick’s Day and the year mom’s birthday was just 3 people and hopefully a zoom meeting with family.  They will recall the mission of delivering rainbows and supplies to our friend’s porches, the shear joy of Lucy when her friends left a care package for us- with hand sanitizer, toilet paper and wipes (a gift of sacrifice).  They will recall days of their dog being SOOOO thankful for COVID times… #perspective.

This is hard.  This is all so hard.  I remember in these COVID times that we can do hard things… we can.  We can get through this, and get stronger and more grounded in that.  We can try to enjoy things, slow down and embrace the togetherness in the distance.  In life I have found that sometimes being positive is a choice, a hard choice, but a choice.  I am looking forward to the end of this, to the embraces and the laughing.  I am looking forward to get-togethers and connection… but for now we do our jobs and get through this.  Someday… I look forward to knowing what all of this looked like for my girls and other kids.  Will this be their 1991 Ice Storm…

Different kind of Normal, Different kind of Togetherness.

Today is Sunday… a day that has a distinct feeling for me normally.  It’s a day of Mass and dinner with the girls, maybe meal prep and getting my mind ready for the week.  Shop and make hard boiled eggs, roast some veggies and remind Amelia to see if her homework is done… bathes and wrapping Lucy’s wet hair in her turbine thing and snuggling on the couch until bedtime, normally.

Today is Sunday… only it could be a Monday or Friday or Saturday, there are no real scheduled separators to make this feel like a Sunday.  The sun is out, it is chilly.  It could be any day really, but it is Sunday.

I got excited last night when I saw that St. Madeleine Sophie would be livestreaming mass at 9 am, a bit of normalish.  While I was laying in bed, waiting to get up, I was chatting with my aunt and told her about mass, so her clan decided they were joining mass too.  I got up, shared quickly on FB and grabbed a nice hot cup of coffee, gathered the girls and dog and set up shop in the living room.  I was feeling excited- I even told God make sure this is a good homily, not the kind that I leave mass feeling that I didn’t gain much from that, sometimes thinking I could have done it better, but that is cocky!  I sat down and started watching…

I have never watched mass.  I have never sipped coffee while watching mass.  I have never looked out into my living room while sipping coffee and watching mass.  I have never sat on a couch while my kids sprawled out in the sunshine and looked around my living room while sipping coffee and watching mass.  I have never included my dog on the couch while my kiddos sprawled in the sunshine in my lovely little living room while sipping coffee and watching mass.  A lot of ‘never have I ever’s’ today, and everyday lately.  What will it be like when everyday isn’t full of piles of strange reminders of this different becoming normal.

It felt good to be watching mass and participating with 200 other households, I may have celebrated mass with 500 people who knows!  A reminder to my brain and heart, that we are in this together.  We are finding ways to not let this hardship win but instead let it change us, build us better and appreciate togetherness more than we ever have.

The Gospel was a powerful one, it made sense right now, today.  Father’s Homily was perfect for last week, now and these coming weeks.  Father spoke of truth… truth that we want to own and know and truth that we don’t want to.  Acknowledging and forgiving, healing… trusting that He is with us in all of that.  Inconvenient truth- He asked God to give us more of this, more inconvenient truth.  That hit me… especially in this world we find ourselves in, with time to handle inconvenient truths inside of ourselves and prepare for the future of inconvenient truth that will come and plop itself in life when it is not easy or good timing.  This world slow down time feels like it is the best time to acknowledge and forgive and heal and hope… and get to know our truth better.  It resonated in me…

Father asked us to all cooperate with grace.  I find myself often putting grace on a backburner for life, or appointments or work or busy- ness.  Avoiding the graces gifted… trying to point my life in my own direction.  Cooperate with grace.  Father said“When we cooperate with the grace that is given it enables us to find joy where there is pain, to find hope when it feels hopeless- to find regeneration of life where there was none.”  Regeneration of life… along with the pain and hard we are regenerating life.  We get to rebuild, to cooperate with grace.

Grace is here… right next to pain and lonely and hard and sad.  Grace is sunshine to walk at Madeline’s Spot.  Grace is watching mass in my lovely little living room while sipping coffee and looking at pictures of my favorite people God gifted me.  Grace is finding my laugh, my deep gut laugh, while rocking out to Cher ‘Turn back Time’ while delivering bendaroo rainbows to some of our herd.  Grace is ordering Chicken Parm and having a fancy Italian dinner with my girls, surrounded with rainbows, Madeline’s real favorite color.  Grace is watching my girls Facetime with their grandparents and cousins… because TECHNOLOGY rocks!!!  Grace is sharing stories about the Ice Storms I lived through, and how happy I was to squish my family into my grandma’s house and stay warm while eating corn dogs with cousins.  Grace is doing paint and sip’s with my daughters, me sipping wine and them sipping Gatorade.  Grace is having groceries, wine and Gatorade… and TP.  Grace is having a job that allows me to work from home, while still doing really important work.  Grace is a smile, a little chat and a well wish from a stranger 6 feet away who just happened to be running at Madeline’s Spot.  Grace is having gas and wheels to get to go find rainbows, deliver food to friends and to go on adventures.  Grace is having a really hard moment, crying it out, feeling it… and knowing that we will get through this, we will rejoice soon.  There is a celebration, an Easter to come.  Grace is all those amazing little things, and big things that we have and don’t at all deserve.  Cooperate with grace…

After mass I picked up my mug and looked on FB and saw that I had watched mass with other friends and family.  We did a together thing, from apart.  A different kind of together, a different kind of normal.  Today is Sunday, and it feels like a Sunday.  A little Amazing Grace… and togetherness from apart… a bit of Jesus and grace in this crazy different kind of normal time.

Familiar Uncertainty

These last days have felt surreal and uncertain… for me and for all.  This new normal has been very challenging for all and I imagine in ways it will continue to be hard but also soft- though that is complicated.  I have struggled, as we all are, with working from home I miss my beautiful teal rolly chair and charismatic team… I am now my children’s teacher (along with work)-  a dream role for me, but it’s hard working and managing AND momming.  I wish I could do all of the above better, but maybe just maybe this time is to do what we can with what we have and let go of beyond.

grief

I know that these days have been almost indescribable for me, I just feel so weird but along with unfamiliar it also feels like Deja vu.  I have struggled to figure out the words to describe all of this…

We walk at Maddie’s Spot, a beautiful old cemetery in Guilderland, everyday.  We need fresh air and a safe place, and her spot is all of that.  We wandered those hilly, windy and antique roads… and I thought about these feelings and the fear and comfort and ok and stressed and what it all meant.  The world pretty much stopped as we know it this week, for so many of us.  It stopped moving for so many, even though it spins and the sun comes up and we get to bedtime.  I have felt this before.  On February 8th, 2012 Madeline died, and my world stopped; while it felt like it stopped for me…  it still was spinning with am’s and pm’s.  I watched, confused, as others lived on- eating out, laughing, getting their kids on and off the bus, going to work, living… I could not understand how that was working.  It was a heavy and surreal time.  Grief is heavy and surreal.  Time kept moving on and somehow it is 2020… 8 years from those days of utter confusion and chaos of time in my soul, still I have many issues and triggers, but mostly time can make sense now.  These days… I am back in that space of the world stopping but the sun still rises and sets.  It’s like that time prepared me, and others for this slow down.

Living life day by day and minute by minute… squishing siblings together to get along and get through… being real and resilient… checking in on family more… baking and cooking with stories, like biscuits my grandma made… improvising an entire cultural holiday… preparing for a quiet birthday… and exploring again… adventures galore to places with only fresh air and no sharing of germs.  I am enjoying this, so far.  I am missing so much, but I am also looking forward to the Rejoice and the joy of reconnecting.  I will wear a big floral dress and my jean jacket, and hot red lipstick and stand close and hug a friend and SMILE.  I will never take togetherness for granted, yet I will be thankful for the tight togetherness I have with my girls now.  I will drink it in, the hard and soft.  These days are historic… they are profound, so I will get through and build the best I can, documenting some of the journey, living and breathing and doing the best with what I have.

This time is hard.  Let’s virtually get through this hard… I feel almost like this is similar to losing Madeline.  Who knows… maybe God will use us greivers as guides through this Covid time.  I imagine I have lived through a preseason and now it is the season (if that is how sports work 😊).

Be kind.  Love well.  Smile and seek sunlight.  Walk.  Laugh lots.  Pray.  Let yourself feel it all.  This is hard.  We can do hard things.  Work on the back-burner stuff.  Reconnect, albeit virtually, to family and friends, journal, find a walking stick, make forts, paint things… lets look forward and do our jobs of social distancing.  OWN YOUR PART IN THAT, YOUR OWN SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE THIS BETTER AND DIFFERENT THAN OTHER PLACES… let’s get to Rejoice sooner.