So it’s finally happened: a close relative went in for a screening and tested positive for Corona. I’m surprised, honestly, that I went so long without knowing someone personally who’d gotten the disease. Even more surprising, she received her test results only after I spent the last weekend visiting her at her house. So I have resigned myself to a strict, self-imposed quarantine until I receive my results. In order to fill the time, and to keep myself positive if my results come back positive as well, I’ll be devoting my time to writing my novel, reading a few of my new books, and writing for my blog to spread some hope to all of you. For today, I’ll keep things short and sweet, as it’s Friday and the weekend is calling.
It is no secret to those who knew him that my Grandfather was a man of many blessings. He was a man who worked hard to support his family, oftentimes laying brick in the dead of winter as icicles hung from his nose. He was an avid lover of nature and, on several occasions, could name the genus and species of the birds surrounding his home just by looking at them. For a man who had to put an end to his education in order to work, it’s a wonder to think about how much different his life had been had he progressed past a middle-school education.
Like my brothers, I had always felt close to him when he and my grandma would stay in our home. Any and all plans were cancelled, and the friends who came to call were turned away, as the three of us sat down at the kitchen table to listen to him tell stories. For hours, we’d sit there, hearing of his family’s history and life experiences. It was a practice that continued into adulthood, as my mother and I sat from morning to night with him in Las Vegas, laughing and questioning him as we drank coffee on the patio he had built. The stories he had to tell were filled with joy, self-reflection, and humor; they lasted up until November of two years ago, when he fell asleep during hospice care and left our home to be with God.
Since then, each of my family members have experienced his presence in some way. For some, he comes to them in dreams, smiling or laughing in the kitchen. For others, he visits more often, leaving pennies in my mom’s path or visiting us as a small, unassuming hummingbird. Very recently, I had my own experience while walking out of the Miejer in Round Lake. It was bright outside, with invisible tendrils of heat rising from the tops of cars. Walking out from the grocery store, I smiled as the wind licked warmly at my skin, heating my body after the freezing temperatures of the frozen food aisles. As I looked around, admiring the gorgeous day, I felt a strong sensation that I had lived this moment before.
Frozen, in the Miejer parking lot, I was then seized with a sudden revelation: for reasons I could not explain, my Grandfather had come to share in that moment with me. It was one he must have experienced many times, smiling contentedly as he made his way home after a trip to the store. Within me, I felt his memory suddenly stir. He was within and beside me all at once, appreciating the simple pleasure that a warm, bright day could bring. On days where I feel down or cannot gain the upper hand on my anxiety, I try to bring the memory of that moment back. One day, I will wait to hear about the results of a different sort of test, one that will change the course of my life and the ones I love. But as I remember the way my grandfather joked about his oxygen tube or shared recipes with his nurses, I find some peace. We do not know how long we have on this Earth. So I’ll try, with every breath in my body, to live the way my Grandfather did: head up and eyes open, ready to take whatever life throws at me with a smile and a story.
As always, stay safe and hopeful! And please, to protect yourself and others, don’t forget to wear a mask!