A Very Good Friday

I got my second Pfizer COVID-19 shot today. I hadn’t gotten an appointment for Angelic Daughter yet because, like an idiot, I didn’t start looking as soon as she was eligible. I was waiting to hear from our health care system about when they’d vaccinate us.

So I began checking our local pharmacy’s parent website hourly. Nothing. “No appointments available within 25 miles of your location for the next 5 days” it kept saying. Five days never ticked down 4 or 3 days.

So my elation at receiving my second shot was dampened by my concern about Angelic Daughter still waiting. I kept trying.

A notification on my phone distracted me, and I missed the turn of the hour, when appointments are supposed to refresh. At 8 minutes after 9 a.m., I tried again, expecting the red “no appointments available” banner–but I got the green “appointments available!” Hallelujah!

I tried to stay calm as I worked through the eligibility screening. I entered our zip code, and closed my eyes while I took a deep breath. When I opened them, I was looking at a screen filled with appointments for a day very soon next week.

Eureka!

Took the first available time slot that day, and received confirmation.

Then about a half an hour later, I got the email from our health system telling me Angelic Daughter was now eligible for an appointment. I checked, but they had none available. All advice is to take the first appointment you can get. OK, Annie. Tell your OCD brain to stop freaking out about the type of vaccine she’s getting. I will not let worry ruin this.

I was already worried about getting my second dose on Good Friday, because possible side effects could last several days. I love Easter, and have planned a good Easter Sunday dinner.

But even if I start to feel lousy, I’m still cooking a feast and enjoying the day with Angelic Daughter. We’ll attend church on Facebook, and sing my all time favorite hymn (“Christ the Lord is risen today-ay, ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-lay-ay-lu-ee-ah!”) and use the Good China.

The pastor of the church where Mike and I were married once preached an Easter sermon where he fantasized about putting up a sign at the door that said, “no one gets in who wasn’t here on Friday.” He was musing about “Christmas and Easter” churchgoers. If they’re only in the pews twice a year, how do you get them to think deeply about the meaning and the magnitude of Good Friday? He didn’t want to let the crowd get away with glossing over the dark, agonizing aspects of the week that leads up to Easter morning. Jesus knew what was coming, and he rode into Jerusalem anyway.

I think about personal experiences of Christ’s presence in my life. Really personal. But I don’t proclaim a “personal relationship with Jesus,” because I struggle with a sense of unworthiness about having any such relationship at all.

And then there’s a day like this. Sunshine, spring flowers, my second shot, and an appointment for Angelic Daughter, who is the model of the person I struggle to be. She is compassionate, empathetic, resilient, cheerful, helpful, and capable of unconditional love for every human she meets. It’s easy for her.

It’s not easy for me, or for a lot of flawed, anxious, OCD types.

The New York Times ran an opinion column today about “The Unsettling Power of Easter.” It’s joyful, but scary.

Scary? Bunny rabbits and chocolate eggs?

Erm, that’s not the Easter we’re talking about here.

We’re talking about Maundy Thursday, when He washed the disciples’ feet, and said, ‘now go do the same for others.’

Right. That’s where I screw up. I have difficulty choosing “to be a source of God’s light and God’s love in this lifetime,” as the benediction that closes our church’s services always says.

For me, it’s more an exertion of discipline that I often forget to impose.

Angelic Daughter doesn’t have to choose to be a source of love. She just IS.

The last paragraph of Professor McCauly’s take on Easter in that NYT piece refers to the “weight of the work.” It’s stunning–paralyzing, even, to think what it will take to begin to heal this battered world once we emerge from the COVID cave.

But I have to believe that a million little kindnesses add up to something. A smile, a “thank you,” or even an apology–like the one I gave after I snapped at the nice lady who asked me to take off my double-mask ensemble to put the hospital’s mask on underneath–can add a little light and love to this world, before we discorporate and become beings of light and love in the next.

Fully vaccinated two weeks from today, I remain,

Your hoping-to-hang-around-a-few-more-decades-and-get-this-love-and-light-thing-right-in-this-world-before-it-gets-easier-in-the-next,

Ridiculouswoman

Just as I was finishing this post, a headline came through that one of two Capitol Police officers hit by a car that drove through a security fence has died. So did the suspect, who, according to the report, was shot when he got out of the car and came at police with a knife. Seems like “the weight of the work” gets weightier by the minute. I have to keep believing in the power of love, because what else can I do?

The Isolation Age: The Great Toilet Paper Relay Edition

Four texts, three people and a truck, for eight rolls. And after all that, it turned out I didn’t need them that badly after all.

Allow me to explain.

My employer values company culture very highly – we help each other out, we have each other’s backs. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by what happened when, during a twice a week video “coffee chat” I mentioned in passing that I was a little worried about running out of a certain “essential” item. I’m just inside the gate of the “higher risk” age group, but that only means I do what everyone is supposed to do – I go out only to fill critical needs like food, prescriptions, cabin-fever busting, socially-distant walks around the block, and to obtain – um, paper goods.

The dynamo who organized that morning’s video chat jumped on my remark right away. “We got you!” she said. I stuttered and stammered, “oh, that’s really nice, you don’t have to do that, I have to go to the store tomorrow anyway – I’ll go during “senior hours” and they said a truck is coming tonight…” She lives at least thirty miles away from me, and I really didn’t want anyone to go that far out of their way.

But before I finished my text telling her it wasn’t necessary, she texted me that the first guy she was going to send had been switched out for another guy, and that she had dropped off a supply at his house – my boss’s boss’s house, and he was already on his way. Within the hour, eight rolls of the precious commodity were deposited on the little end table on my front porch for receiving deliveries. I put a laminated sign on it that says, “please put deliveries here, thank you!” with a really dreadful (I’m sure) Spanish translation and an apology, “lo siento, mi Espanol es de internet!” I barely got the chance to wave a thank you to my team lead’s leader before his truck was leaving my driveway.

I gratefully took the shopping bag inside, to sort out its contents the way I ordinarily do, doling out this many rolls for downstairs and this many for upstairs. I went to pick up the plastic wrapper of the previous supply to throw it out. It was crumpled and deflated and just sitting there in the breezeway.

That’s when I discovered there were still 7 rolls bundled down in the bottom of that package.

So, three colleagues had gone out of their way at 5 p.m. on a weeknight to get me some TP that, as it turned out, I didn’t really need.

Cue full-blown OCD meltdown.

“What if one of them gets sick because of this? GAAAAA! What’ll I do???”

Confess. Face the music. Take the responsibility and accept the blame.

The next morning, the first thing I did was send the two of them a chat promising to spend the rest of my days wearing a hairshirt and flogging myself bloody if either of them got sick.

Predictably, the response was along the lines of “no problem! happy to help!” I rationalized that their kindness will keep me from venturing out on a multi-store scavenger hunt, possibly all the way to April 30, which is as long as our present stay-at-home order is in place.

I meant it when I said I had to go to the store – we were running out of other stuff that I forgot to get last week. I got home and spent half an hour unpacking groceries – and discovered I still forgot something – this time because I didn’t put it on my list in the first place. But we’ll be just fine without that particular type of tea, and I can cook the rack of lamb that has been in the freezer since last year for Easter next Sunday. Angelic Daughter will want something else, anyway.

Now that we’re finally all supposed to be wearing non-medical masks outside, I took some inspiration from YouTube and made myself one out of an old t-shirt. Before I went to the store, I knotted my new droplet-distribution prevention device around my neck and at the top of my head.

And then, I kid you not, I actually thought for a few seconds about what shirt would best coordinate with my mask.

Hoping your masks are colorful, coordinated, stylish but most of all, effective (mine is not), I remain,

Your I-have-never-spent-that-much-money-in-one-trip-to-the-grocery-store-in-my-life, purple-t-shirt mask and absurdly color-coordinated purple turtleneck and sweater wearing, trying to maintain a good attitude while staying at home and staying out of the way, technically at higher risk,

Ridiculouswoman

Image by lyperzyt from Pixabay

When I Dreamed of Working From Home, This Isn’t Quite What I Had in Mind

I just attended my first online church service. The sense of community was as strong as ever, although the congregation experienced each other’s presence as words on screen in the comments column rather than handshakes of greeting in the pews. To me, it was every bit as comforting as a live service, and good to feel the virtual presence of “church family.” As usual, our pastor came through with a message of love, kindness, common sense and respect for science, that comes from the brains God gave us, to think and take care of one another.

So, first, gratitude. For health care workers on the front lines, and for everyone doing their part by practicing “social distancing,” hand washing and taking care of themselves, which in turns reduces the risk to others.

Gratitude that, although Angelic daughter is tired and sleeping a lot, she’s ok. I think the sleep is a manifestation of her exceptional emotional radar – she picks up on the anxious vibes, and how they come from worries about illness.  That goes straight to the core of her grief and worry – if Dad got sick and died, and now lots of other people are getting sick, what’s going to happen to Mom and me? Are my Uncles and my friends and my pastor and my church family OK?

I’m trying to be a source of calm for her.  I’m OK, so far. I’m allowed to work from home starting tomorrow. I filled the freezer two or three weeks ago, stowed bins of canned and dry goods and some olive oil over the last week. I already had enough toilet paper stashed to give some away to a home in need. I keep hand sanitizer around the house anyway. I keep reminding myself to be careful, not to cut or sprain anything, because the ER won’t have room for me right now.

Then I get on Facebook and see local bars and restaurants urging people to come out for St. Patrick’s Day and making unsupported claims about alcohol and coronavirus.

What fresh hell is this? What madness, what impenetrable level of science denial, could possibly be behind people actually encouraging others to go out and infect themselves, so they can merrily move on to infecting others? Is it fatalism, or just stupidity? I understand business owners who fear losing their businesses altogether, but are you really willing to put the economic survival of a bar or restaurant above actual survival of human beings?

At least the message about “flattening the curve” has reached a lot of people. Why bars and restaurants haven’t been ordered to close yet is beyond me. Must I link to op-eds by medical professionals pleading with the public to stop buying masks, stay home and stay the hell out of the way?

OK, I guess I must:

Young and Unafraid of the Coronavirus? Good for You – Now Stop Killing People

Boston Doctors Plead Don’t Be Cavalier About Coronavirus

In my area, good ideas about how to support local businesses have circulated – things like buying gift certificates online, etc. One local business has figured out a way for patrons to make a donation that they will then use to purchase gift certificates from other local businesses and to hold a place on a list for a future “all clear” party.

Hate to break it to you, guys, but as far as I know (and I’m not a doctor or scientist – but docs and scientists, chime in here – oh, wait, you won’t have a spare second to do that until at least September) there is no such thing as an “all clear” on a virus, until an effective vaccine is ready and everyone has been inoculated. Or until everyone who is going to get the virus gets it, and most survive it and become immune, thereby conferring “herd immunity” on those who remain. If you have the medical credentials, please correct me if I’m wrong about that.

So where does that leave us? All I can say is where it leaves me:

I’ve been a germ freak for years. So I was already really into washing my hands, and giving dirty looks to people who don’t cover their coughs and sneezes.

Then came the caregiving years – I found myself performing previously unimaginable personal tasks for my parents and my husband. Gloving up and sanitizing for them, not for me.

So now this: I feel reasonably calm. If I learned anything from losing Dad, Mom and Mike, it’s this: “in the end, only kindness matters.”

The sun is still there, behind the shadow. Sending love and hope and prayer for strength, safety and stamina for health care workers, affected families, and those at greatest risk, I remain,

Your uncharacteristically calm,

Ridiculouswoman

Image by Jan Haerer from Pixabay