Sunday, November 29, 2020

Pandemic Holiday

We had our Covid-19 Thanksgiving. It was my parents and the five of us. The noise volume was louder than that sounds, mostly because the youngest member of our family is very loud and her sisters aren't exactly quiet. 

We usually have a few more faces around the table--friends who aren't going home for the holiday, international students who are in town until the semester's end, one of my in-laws--but this year it was just our quarantine bubble group. I felt very fortunate to have our small gathering this year, though, especially as I have friends who have lost parents and siblings within this past year and I know how hard it is when grief doesn't just have a seat at the table, but is a part of every bite you take, filling your stomach with a pit of emptiness that nothing really fixes. Except time, I guess, when the ache gets softer.

Highlights of the day included conversations starters at the table:

If you could be famous for anything, what would it be?

Zuzu: A famous YouTuber.

Coco: Babysitter, puppy-care, and gymnastics!

If you could eat just three foods for the rest of your life what would they be?

Zuzu: Tortilla chips, corn bread, rolls.

Coco: Pizza, bacon, and salmon.

Gee wasn't really part of the conversation, but she likes to make herself heard and finally as a few more words, including the ever-hopeful and quite-insistent, "CooKIE?"

We are coming into my Grief Season going full-throttle. I'm feeling more emotionally on-edge. There are lots of distractions, too. Kids are still on hybrid schedule for school, so they are home for virtual school three days a week. Gee is going to the babysitter, which is the only way we can function.

(I mean this quite literally, as I had to call the doctor in a panic recently, as in the time it took me to wipe down the high chair and table after feeding the kids lunch, she managed to get into a bottle of vitamin D supplements and I caught her chewing a few of them. I didn't think she'd swallowed any, but I also couldn't be sure... how long had she been out of my sight? Two minutes? Five minutes? I was crying on the phone with poison control, feeling like the worst mom in the world. Thankfully she had no side effects and probably the only tablets she consumed were the chewed up pieces that I frantically pulled out of her mouth with my fingers (she would have had to swallow 37 tablets to reach toxicity), but my heart races just thinking about it.)

(And I second guess putting things like this on the internet, because my already too-thin skin is thinner than usual this time of year, and the last thing I need is someone passing judgment on my parenting... although they couldn't say anything worse than I already said to myself...)

I'm still working from home, which is going well. This new job continues to have worked out more beautifully than I ever could have hoped. I'm busy, but not overwhelmed, and challenged but not exhausted at the end of the day. (Not exhausted by my job, that is. I am very much exhausted by my children at the end of the day.)

David has been working like mad to finish our mini-renovation in the basement. We paid a plumber to get the bathroom pipes ready and paid a drywaller to put in, tape, and sand all the drywall, but he's doing everything else: flooring, painting, trim, etc. It's a ton of work. It will be great when it's all done. I'm not convinced we really need the space, but I'm also not complaining about having a designated area for LEGOs and crafting. Last night, I discovered Zuzu had been building with Legos in our bathroom off the bedroom because she could keep Gee out of there. She picked up her pieces, but she missed a small white one that blended in with the title. Of course my foot found it this morning.

One of my highlights of the week was picking up the boxes of books that were donated for our book drive in memory of Eliza. It has been such an enormous gift to me to get the notification from the bookshop every time someone places an order from the wishlist, but seeing the books and holding them in my hands and putting the stickers in each one that say "Donated in memory of Eliza Duckworth" was just really, really great. I also got such pleasure from seeing Eliza's name jotted down on post-it notes placed on each book to designate them for our boxes. Nobody will ever say or write my girl's name as much as I wish they would, and just to know that the bookshop clerks were seeing it come through on their computer screens, or saying it on the phone with people and scribbling it on a post-it note multiple times... these are the little things that I appreciate more than people will ever know.

Our plan is to take the books up to David's school next week, or maybe the end of this week. I just love the idea of them being in the library there, and I'm so glad that we went through with this project. And especially glad that I started it back in October when I had more energy and it wasn't getting dark at 5pm.

My book project (the one I'm planning to self-publish) is also chugging right along. My goal is to have it up on Amazon before the end of the year. Assuming that things continue as they are right now, I should be on schedule. I'm nervous about typos, even having had a couple of readers and gone through it carefully myself, but I am trying to silence the perfectionism. I've definitely had some crises of confidence and more second-guessing myself (like, Should I even bother with this? There are many other great resources now!), but even while I may be plagued by self-doubt, I'm also pretty stubborn. I like finished projects. So, onward!

My semester of teaching is complete, as my students have papers due on December 4 but we are not meeting again as a class. I really enjoyed teaching this semester, but I'm also glad to hunkering down at home as our country braces for Covid numbers to jump back up after the Thanksgiving holiday. I expect to do the rest of my Christmas shopping online.

We will just hunker down at home for the month of December, which is how I like to spend that first week anyway. We've been watching lots of Christmas movies, playing lots of Christmas music, and we have our trees up and lit although one of them still needs its ornaments. (We have to schedule decorating during nap time, and there just aren't enough napping hours in the day to get done everything that we'd prefer to do without Gee's help/interference!) 

I imagine I'll have something to say about 10 years of missing her, but I'm trying not to pressure myself to come up with some illuminating essay on grief and love. We'll just see how the day/week unfolds. I'm still wrapping my head around 10 years. How much better things are than I could have imagined a decade ago, what gifts she brought into my life when she passed out of it, and how much I still want a world with her in it.