Family · Health · Perspective

Living Heavy

Pandemic. Do I dare even say the word? I’ll just refer to it as “the big P.” It has us all fatigued. People are living heavy. We are edgy and impatient. My daughter calls it “harsh.” I believe it’s directly correlated to the overall environment the last couple of years.

In retrospect, WE were living with force. I was stressed trying to balance all the moving parts and keep us healthy. Constantly questioning myself if this was a good idea? Are we going to get sick? If we do, how sick will we get? What will it disrupt? School? Work? Let’s balance the kids’ need for socialization (school has been IN PERSON the whole time) with making health-based decisions. Make sure you are washing your hands! Who was sick today at school? It was exhausting. Just keep moving. For two years we lived like this.

Christmas Day all the questions were answered. I got sick with what seemed like a bad intestinal flu and fever early in the morning. I don’t remember Christmas at all. My husband wanted to wait to open gifts until I got better, but I refused to make the kids postpone Christmas morning. Scoot forward to day 3 of being sick and I took a home test. Positive, very quickly, I might add. Rona had finally hit our house. Day 5 (fever free!) I emerged from my room (without a sense of smell and modified taste) to my 11yr old son not feeling well. He ran a fever for 12 hours, headache, and intestinal issues. Two days later, I had a cranky 9year old with a stomach ache and headache. The final domino to fall was my husband. That night he developed a fever. He was sick for 36hours (intestinal) and thought everything was extremely salty. Weird.

We live in a rural area, so by the end of our self-imposed quarantine we loaded the vehicle and went for a country cruise. Interacting with no one, it was just a nice dirt road drive to get out of the house. Then it was over. Done. We’d missed Christmas with my family, a basketball tournament, work, and a gathering with friends. We put together puzzles, made Chex Mix, did crafts, played games, and watched Christmas movies – all together. Everyone recovered without medical intervention. No one experienced the respiratory symptoms. What a bizarre experience!

I have mixed emotions that I’ve discussed with my therapist. Part of me feels guilty that we had absolutely no complications. Even with my MS, I had no issues other than my illness lasting longer than everyone else in the family. It’s been drilled into us that if we get C19, we will die. If we get C19 and you aren’t vaccinated, or your immune system did not mount the proper response (hello autoimmune), you will die. Even if you did get vaccinated, you might have complications and die. Many people have. In no way am I downplaying that fact. It IS a fact. It’s a terrible, sad fact and I have grief and empathy for those who battled unsuccessfully. And yet, we didn’t. Survivor’s guilt.

On the other hand, I feel IMMENSE relief. After two years of somehow managing to avoid it, we’ve made it thru. We can live a notch lighter. I know we aren’t alone in this. I read an online article out of a major US city that voiced these exact feelings, both the guilt and the relief, from a handful of people the author interviewed.

A good friend of mine described the same situation after her family went down with C19 in January. We felt shame for being sick with it, followed by relief and guilt when we recovered. Neither her family nor mine was broadcasting on social that we were positive. We quietly let our immune systems battle it out in the privacy of our homes and told only people who had to know- family and those we had been around in the days prior. After recovery, we told our closest friends. That’s it. Why the stigma? We’ve all been living in the big P for 2+ years. Now, 2.5 months later, I feel comfortable writing about our experience and the reflections on it. I’m tired of living heavy. This is a step towards living lighter.

Life in QT over Christmas.
Faith · Family · Health · Perspective

Giving Thanks – Memory Style

Thanksgiving. Food. Family. Giving of Thanks.

We are on the cusp of one of my favorite holidays. Thanksgiving.
My mom alternates between watching the Macy’s Day Parade and preparing dishes. After 30+ years of watching/helping this process, this is also what I do on Thanksgiving morning. It’s tradition.

Typically, we decorate for Christmas during this week as well, also a habit adopted from my mother. The whole crew gathers for a meal during this week. The last few years, we also pick a day this week to work cattle in the hills. Sadly, gathering plans are different this year.

Instead of dwelling in the muck that is a local covid outbreak, my mind shifts the focus to a couple general favorite holiday memories. All my favorite holiday stories revolve around family. My life overflows with gratitude for the loving foundation I was raised in. Surrounded with love on all sides.

My grandma Ramona laughing so hard she couldn’t finish- or sometimes start- a story. Tears would stream down her face. Gosh, I love that memory! Cramming the tables, sitting on the floors with plates, singing the doxology and eating-napping-playing outside- eating again… On repeat every year for that side of the family until we said goodbye to our patriarch and matriarch.

Similarly, mom’s side gathered and filled the house for holidays. The kitchen aromas -always Grandma Evelyn’s French bread, laughter, competitive games such as pitch, Rummikub, and spoons, and the younger boys getting into a scrape… Always placemats on the table. The enjoyment of spending time with my aunts, uncles, and cousins is treasured.

It was a crowd and volume adjustment for my husband the first years of holidays with my family. We get loud and then louder. Holidays are not just one meal. They encompass entire days.

If you are like me, 2020 has made you extremely weary of the cancellations and limitations. We’ve all been asked to undertake the uncomfortable by altering our cherished traditions. On hard years, such as this one, it is imperative we shift our focus to the beautiful holiday memories!

What are your Thanksgiving memories?