4:00 a.m.  My own witching hour.  Up in the dark and out of bed, leaving my VNM sleeping peacefully.

We, Julia, VNM and I, have had Covid this last week.  We were all ready to go to the wedding of the daughter of a dear friend, trek to Cleveland to party and see old friends, when I felt ill on Wednesday morning.  “Felt ill” lacks the drama of the experience. It was more like getting slammed to the ground and wrestled into stillness. I managed to get Julia up and out, dropped her at Elliot House, drove back home and crawled into bed.  I begged out of a class to make Yaprakia and skipped choir rehearsal that evening.  I asked Julia’s therapist to pick Julia up, stay out of the house with her and drop her when their session was finished.  During the day, I held out hope that I would recover quickly from whatever it was that I had and still get on a plane on Friday; however, by the evening I gave into the inevitable and by Thursday morning, I tested positive for Covid and cancelled all our plans.  I was pretty sick—temperature, head ache, body ache, awful cough, loss of smell and taste and a few other symptoms I’d rather not describe.  During the next four days, I ran through almost everything, apart from severe breathing problems.  I was fortunate to call my doctor in time for a Paxlovid prescription and this morning I took the final dose.  Symptoms did not retreat as quickly as they came on but after three doses, I began to feel more myself albeit very tired and still coughing.

VNM fell to the Covid test on Friday, and Julia on Saturday.  Julia has had a deep cough and had taken a lot of naps, but otherwise is symptom free.

So, we’ve had a long weekend of naps, soup, cough and cold medication, water and juice and tea and more soup.  

Perhaps right now, in the early morning hours of Wednesday, a week later, I am close to well.  I have a gathering and a choir rehearsal on schedule today that I will not go to out of caution, and a meeting of a few people in a large room, who all agreed to my being there masked.  Julia will go back to Elliot House on Thursday, her first day out of quarantine.

March has marched along and I observe that it hasn’t been an terrifically productive month.  The Covid enforced break brought activity to a stand still but activity has been slowly grinding to a halt throughout the month. Perhaps it is the way moving goes and I just don’t quite remember it accurately.  Perhaps it is the way the regular work of living goes on when the small details of settling into a new house are not finished. Perhaps it is why people put those small details, last few boxes, non essential things into closets and basements and mention how they have still not unpacked boxes years after moving when I complain that I have not finished moving in.  

Be all those as they may, I feel like that liminal time of moving and settling has definitely passed.  I expect I will get on with hanging pictures, putting up storage shelves in the basement and making sense of the that pile on desk during April.  

Oh, and I hope it gets to be time to open windows!  Winter, as light as it has been here, hangs on.  I need spring!

This morning too, I feel full of the feeling of stepping into new rooms, room of the soul, not merely the rooms of the new digs. I feel such a sadness at where Julia is right now.  She has no motivation, little curiosity, few interests.  She is 22 and young enough to be pushing limits and exploring. Instead, she is content to be part of an undemanding program and to spend as much time as she can trolling the internet on her phone. She has good days when she asks to help make lunch or does a short task at her day program, but there are days she does nothing at all. I take her rowing twice a week, to make art once a week and to cello lessons on Saturdays, but if I didn’t take her, she would not ask to go.

This is not what I envisioned for her life, but I cannot mold and shape her life, as I always have.  I cannot be her external hard drive and she is not willing to take on any responsibility to explore or grow into an adult life.

I am not going to stop rowing or making art or cello.  At least, not now.  But if there is something else, if she wants more or different, it needs to come from her.

And this is a great sadness for me.  I did not imagine that it would be like this.  I imagined her wanting to do something. Maybe something that  I could not understand or did not like her doing, but doing nothing did not entered my imagination.

I am trying very hard to have patience and be at peace with what is her life now.

And there is this other room.  The room for myself.  And perhaps, I haven’t had a room for myself apart from Julia for a very long time, and that is why I can recognize this room so easily.

I am removed from the rooms of grieving. I no longer chase joy in the same way I’ve done since David died.  Forging a new relationship, I feel free of deep longing for the life I lost. And I feel more of myself, more independent of the trappings of what I have lived and always expected to live.  

And I have been moving towards this for awhile now.  Even before I met my VNM, but it took that friendship and the growing of it to clear away the last scraps of my midwestern married life that I was reluctant to let go of. 

Stepping into and claiming this newish self for all it is, I feel the possibilities of loving and caring, of grandmothering, of writing, of singing, of making a very small garden, of teaching again and certainly of learning.  And yes, even of painting.  

My desk has been cluttered since the move. Yesterday, I put away a few papers and started gathering what I need to do my taxes. I changed my address with yet another government agency. I need to finish the clearing and set it up for new work, at another swing at the old work that I may see from new perspective.

So, although I hold deep sadness for Julia this very early morning, I have great optimism for where I am and what I will do when the dawn comes.

3 thoughts on “surfacing

  1. Thank you for taking the trouble to share, Suzanne. The photo of you and grand-boy is full of feeling and curiosity and fun. Maybe his growth, his path will somehow inspire Julia. Much love and appreciation coming you way from this corner of So. Oregon.

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