So many people are mourning their losses this spring and summer. A killer virus lurks around every corner – or every person not wearing a face mask – and we have lost the ability to do almost anything normal. We can no longer go to work, gather in large crowds, sit indoors at restaurants, or attend parties. Virtual cocktail hours have replaced the real thing. Political divisions and raw emotion have replaced civil discourse. When I most need a friendly hug or a collegial conversation, the best I get now is an elbow bump or Zoom. I miss my colleagues, my students, and my friends. I miss my mother.
With almost at 150,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the US, I think about Mum sitting alone in her assisted living apartment, safe from the pandemic for now. She is recovering from hip surgery and will probably never walk again, due to her advanced dementia and the fact that no physical therapists are allowed into the facility. She can barely hear, so a phone call is frustrating. I feel like I’m losing my mother bit by bit. However, I know that she is still here physically, and am thankful for that small grace, when others have not been so lucky.
Yesterday I found a little moment of happiness when I went to visit her. I expected to sit outside her window and communicate through the glass. Instead, the Activities Director wheeled her out to the front porch, all bundled up in a blanket, and allowed us a precious 30-minute visit. Just hearing her voice was a salve to my heart. She reminisced about her life as an Army nurse during World War II, about how they gave her so much responsibility, even though she was very young. I wanted desperately to hug her and warm her hands in mine.
Small moments of success like this take on new meaning during a global pandemic. My mother is a fighter, and she has passed down that optimism to me. In spite of the mounting losses in the world, I can feel grateful for this brief human connection.