Never Alone

I’m hearing a lot about how thing might look different once the pandemic is over. Some speculate that things are never going to go back to the way they were. I’ve wondered myself what the new norm will look like in the coming months and years. Some days I wonder if there has been unrepairable damage done to our collective psyche and if we will ever interact with strangers and others like we used to. Since we haven’t actually seen the smile of a stranger in a year, what’s to say we are even smiling anymore…

Then something happens to show me again that as humans we are Good, we are friendly, we care and we want to be in community with others.

MP went to Maine this week to visit him mom. He left on Saturday morning, early, and is gone for most of a week. I am at our Arizona home, where we have a tight group of friends and there is music in the courtyard daily and sunshine enough to make anyone feel like life is mostly normal again. There are guidelines in place to keep everyone safe, but it is a wonderful place this time of year with the grapefruit tress blooming and the soft evening breezes still keeping things cool.

The first day MP was gone I had plans with the girls and we shopped and enjoyed each others company then met in the courtyard for cocktails and music. They were each sure to check on me and make sure I was ok and that MP had traveled safely. They are good friends. They truly care about each other and about MP and I.

But on Sunday, we all had plans of our own and I spent my day doing grown up things like, talking to the kids, going to church, cleaning house and ordering groceries. You know…weekend things. At 2pm there was a good band in the courtyard and while I had not planned to go down the music called to me rather quickly and I found myself at a two top, alone. It was ok with me to be alone. I was enjoying the music and the sun and really, for one of the first times in my life, was incredibly easy about being by myself. Maybe I should clarify “alone”…. I attended alone… and there were 200 other people there with me. I had not shown up with MP or anyone else so alone is kind of relative, but you get the idea…. I was there “alone”. I know many of those in attendance, some better then others, and while our gang wasn’t there, I still had lots of ‘hellos’ and ‘wheres MP’s?’, smiles and friendly waves. I felt welcome and content and safe and happy. I ordered a cocktail and settled in to listen.

Within just a few moment I was approached and after finding out MP was out of town, asked to sit with a group. I’ve met them several times and enjoy their company and they too have a home in Idaho. I kindly declined, content with the idea of being by myself (in a group of 200) and just listening to music today. Soon a lady approached me and asked if she could sit with me. She was probably 75 and while I have a general idea of most of the people who live here, I had never met Mary before. She sat at my table and before long I learned of her life, her family, her children and her past career as a teacher. When she left about an hour later she thanked me for the Ice Tea and said she hoped we’d talk again. Soon another friend stopped to say hello, and then another group invited me to sit with them. A group of ladies even invited me to dance with them. A ‘stranger’ asked me if I’d like to join their table, saying she felt bad seeing me sitting by myself. All generous and genuine offers of kindness. And then it occured to me…. people don’t like seeing someone alone.

I took a deep breath and understood in real time….I have nothing to worry about.

Based on what I experienced today, nothing can change the heart of who we are. NOt differing opinions. Not national shootings. Not politics and definitely not a Pandemic. We are a people who care about other people. We are a people who want to make sure no one feels alone or by themselves. We are still a people who deep down, authentically care and want to make sure others are cared for. Nothing has changed that. Even if a mask is covering our smile, the heart has remained open, uncovered and never agreed to become socially distanced.

I quietly finished my drink and on a set break thanked those who had asked me to join them and quietly walked home, reminded again that people are good. I never thought I would hear myself say this, or write this, but I enjoyed being alone today because it allowed me to personally experience the truth and reality that people are still good. I mean really, really good regardless of the year that just occured. While we may disagree about some things, and we may not know everyones name or hang out with them often, in the heart of who we are …WE are good and we’re going to continue to be good. I am blessed to be part of a community that cares, includes and intuitively reaches out to someone they see who may need a chat, a kind word, an invitation of friendship, a place to sit or just a hello. What an amazing time to be alive.

Lessons from Loss

Interesting how a pandemic can make you grateful. Little things all of the sudden seem like really big things. Things taken for granted before seem like the air needed to breathe.

Like many of you we’ve been trying to live by the pandemic guidelines for what seems like years now. While we’ve probably not been as strict as some we have been home in our little space living as full a life as possible while trying not to get too crazy. In a previous post I commented about living small and that the things most missed was seeing the kids and grand babies.

As the mandates started lifting we had a family get together for the first time in months. Our kids arriving with snacks to share and stories and conversations all around. The newest grand baby was introduced to some family for the first time on his 4 month birthday. It made this Nana’s heart so happy to see almost everyone together.

And then today, I saw all my children. In one day. All of them. I dropped lunch off to my son, dropped some coasters off to my oldest daughter and her husband, and got a little snuggle with the newest grand baby. Then stopped by my youngest daughters work for a hug and to congratulate her on her new place. As I left the parking lot of that last stop I was so grateful. Grateful I could see them, hug them, touch their faces. I’ve missed them so much.

A year ago I may have made those rounds, but I might also have put them off until the next day or another day. I probably would have looked at my to-do list and decided I didn’t have time to stop today. I would have reminded myself they were grown-ups and at work or that I had just seen them recently.

Today, you couldn’t have kept me away from them regardless of how far out of the way I had to drive or the number of others things I ‘should’ have been doing. Today, I am incredibly grateful I CAN stop and see them. I can hug them, kiss their faces, tell them I love them in person. So why wouldn’t I? All those reasons that a few months ago would have seemed logical and reasonable, now seem ridiculous.

A recent call to my Aunt reminded me of this truth as well, when she answered her phone and when asked said yes, she was in the middle of something but my call was more important. We’ve learned recently too that sometimes that time is the last time we have the chance.

So pandemic or loss or just because we want to, this is a good time to remember that now is that time to do and say and be all those things we think we have time to do tomorrow. We may have years yet, but we may not and either way that time spent stopping, reminding those we love that they are worth it and giving them that hug or making that call might be the memory that gets us through a time we can’t be together or until we meet again.

I’m going to keep stopping.

-rache