Empty churches and empty hearts.

Tsunami. Tsunami is the word that came to mind when I found out that my good friend’s husband has COVID, and another friend’s mother died due to COVID yesterday.

Eight months ago we were sending messages and news links about Tom Hanks and his wife, getting the virus. They were one of the very first well known people that got it. Throughout the following months we have all seen the spread get closer, and closer and closer to us. It seemed so far at first, we felt safe and unreachable, at least I did. But today ,… I don’t.

This morning I received a link to participate (virtually) in the mass celebrated to say good bye to my friend’s mother that recently passed. She had been sick for over 3 years, Alzhaimer’s Disease, and all the complications that come with it. She was home bound, under care and supervision around the clock towards the end. I don’t know many details about her condition, but I do know she got infected with COVID, most likely through one of the caregivers, or any family member that visited.

I clicked on the link not really knowing what to expect, it was the first time I participated on a similar event online.

I saw a near empty church. The service was limited to 15 atendees max. I saw family members with half their face covered by a mask, and even if the camera was placed atop and far from the attendees, I could almost feel the sadness, the emptiness, the loneliness in there. The husband, now a widower, stood on the first row, distanced from his two sons, in a suit that he seemed to once have filled and today looked big because his body had shrunk from sadness and emotional exhaustion. He looked small, so small. When he walked to the casket to say good bye to his beloved wife and placed a flower on it, he dragged his feet and seemed almost unwilling to go on.

When the service ended, the husband and his two sonds held each other, surounding the casket. It was, hearbreaking and painful to watch.

When we say good bye to our parents, we want to see a church that is full, completely full and overflowing with friends, family, to pay respects and show their admiration, their love, their support. To hug us, to hold us, to assure us that everything will be ok. To tell us that our dearly departed are resting peacefully. But in Covid times, the ones left behind get nothing like this. Not even close. It must be enfuriating to be deprived of a respectful and dignified ceremony. Deprived of a homely Wake to celebrate their lives, their moments that will forever be remembered.

These times are hard in so many ways, for the sick, for the families that have lost loved ones, for the unemployed, for struggling parents that cannot go back to work, and for young struggling students who are suffering from this both academically and emotionally. Hard for teachers and school staff trying to please all parents, even if they ask for the impossible.

People are stressed, people are being tested and a lot of them, wearing thin. Holiday season is here way sooner than it normally comes.

I visited the mall last weekend and it was almost sad to hear Christmas songs the first week of November in the stores. It is almost like shoppers need to be soothed into calmer environments and better moods. In the end, they want us to shop, of course! It just seemed almost like a “pretend world” built to keep the economy moving, and keep people employed.

This will be a very hard Christmas for millions of Americans, with no jobs. I hope all of those who- like me- are fortunate to still have jobs, find a way to lend out a hand, to volunteer, to donate, to share.

Changing to happier matters, I have learned to make bread this year. It is still a mystery to me why, during this pandemic millions of people went crazy buying toilet paper and baking. I am guilty of the latter, not the first.

I made my first loaf of bread, I also learned how to make (and can) jams and jellies.

I also came to know some exotic fruits that grow close to our home, they look beautiful and taste delicious. Dragonfruit is one of them.

My husband and my son worked together more than usual this year. He set his mind to teach him different useful skills; woodworking being one of them.

Together they worked on several projects, one of them -by request- is my new scarf holder. It is nice to see teenagers do something other than sit in front of a screen.

Well, lives are changing, and so is the way we perceive and appreciate simple things, like not wearing a mask at the store, feels like you forgot to put your shirt on! Also, I have found myself more than once, leaving quite a bit of space between my car and the car in front of me on a stop light. It is like my brain is now trained to social distance without even thinking. Even when I drive!

I am still taking my daily morning walks with our dog, Cinder. She has become dangerously attached to me, to the point of having separation anxiety even if I go out to water plants. Walking her daily down the hill and up again has definitely helped me stay more active. Not just that, but I really enjoy the fresh air, the silence, the birds singing and chirping like crazy. Not much changes on our route. Same scents, only the citrus blossoms come and go with the season, but same friendly neighbors, dog walkers, noisy beehives, grumpy neighbor than never waves , our dog’s favorite spot to sniff on. Recently the only change I have seen is that one of out neighbors took down their TRUMP 2020 flag…

This Pandemic has lasted so long, that the days have changed in their dusk and dawn times during these 8 months we have all been home.

Tomorrow I will take out my winter clothes again (if you can call it a winter when temperatures drop from the 80s to the 60s). I put them away in March and now I am getting cold in my own house again. 2020 really has seemed like a breeze to me; even though for others it seems like an endless nightmare.

We are planning a trip to the desert for Thanksgiving. It will a different holiday for sure. But we all need a break, change, fun times. Hope we get it all!

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