We are home from a holiday few days in New Hampshire. Julia and I stayed at the Henry Whipple House in Bristol, visited with friends at a nearby lake house during the days, boated and swam and hiked and ate summer foods and played many games of skipbo. We wore our masks at our inn and walking in the little town center and tried to stay socially distant from everyone not in our immediate party. Sometimes that felt awkward and uncomfortable but I was grateful that most people we met were observing the same rules. I so enjoyed being spoiled a little bit—having someone else cook breakfast and make my morning coffee felt like a spectacular extravagance.
June was a challenge. I wrote about it more than once but what I wrote stayed in drafts.
I spent more than a week with a pinched nerve in my right shoulder. It took 5 days in high pain that punctured my sleep and made meal prep a matter of 15 minutes of prep and an hour lying down for me to call my doc. Up to that point, my heating pad had become my dearest companion. By the time I talked to the doc, I was on the mend to the extent that I could make a quick salad or scramble eggs but everything else had to slide. Julia help with household chores and also had much more free time to troll the web than I’d like but there was no policing her.
The doc prescribed stronger pain meds and a muscle relaxer. The muscle relaxer was the key although it also put me to sleep at night long before Julia bedtime and left me loopy during the day. Many more days of a feral Julia.
The next Tuesday, I took Julia food shopping. We could have survived on scrambled eggs and PB&J for a few more days but we hadn’t had fruit or fresh veggies for days. Also, Julia hadn’t been in a store, hadn’t been anywhere but home since March and I needed to pry open her ever narrowing world.
The balance of staying as safe as we could and opening up Julia’s world was a rough one. We’ve had some rough days and some good ones; she complained bitterly about me and her small world when she talked to counselors and therapists; however, she was unwilling to reach out to peers for any social time. I was grateful for counselors and therapists who listened, especially her mentor who calls on Sundays and allows Julia to go on and on about what interests her.
Since our shopping trip, there has been physical discomfort at the end of the day and I take the meds before bed. Most days I wake up without pain and remain pretty much pain free for at least half the day. We walk and I water and pull a few weeds. When I get a shadow of pain down my arm, I move carefully.
Another day, I was energized enough to do something about the dirty house and the weedy garden bed. Julia volunteered to dust and vacuum to avoid weeding. It took her most of the day because she decided that our CD rack needed a real cleaning. She took all the CDs off, wiped them and the rack and then asked if she could arrange the CDs the way she wanted. Well, sure. I would not have given the job to her as part of our clean up but if she wanted to do it, it passed a good part of the day.
Even after more than 100 days of quarantine, I will need to let go of so any expectations—about what is productive, what is practical and effective, about how Julia spends her time, about how I spend my time. I cannot imagine that I would be happy with what we did that day or any other day at any other time. And yet, here we are in this upside-down living experience. What are the words for it?
Today, Julia starts Extended School Year (ESY) online. It was one of the programs that I was so excited about before we moved. It cannot be the same online but it will occupy some time, and perhaps give me a little time on my own. At least, in half hour intervals. Julia had a bumpy entry into morning meeting but by her third zoom call of the morning, she is more interactive. I hold onto just a bit of hope that ESY will engage her and help pry her away from her imagined world.