"Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it's the quiet voice at the end of the day telling you to try again tomorrow." - Unknown
When the pandemic hit, I was in Upstate NY helping out my parents. I kept an eye on the news, watching as the virus was bringing Spain and Italy to their knees. I took the drive up with my kids, but sent them home with my Jeep with the intention of flying home when I got my parents situated. As the virus exploded on our shores, things began to change. My kids, one by one, called to tell me their colleges were closing and they had to move out of the dorms. The government announced flights to Europe would cease. Rumors and fear that states would close borders to each other and domestic flights would be grounded grew. My husband was not comfortable with me flying home, so he hit the road for the 8 hour trek to pick me up. Meanwhile, the kids were helping each other move their belongings out of the dorms and back home. It was a bleak outlook. Businesses came to a standstill, and my office put thousands of us on furlough.
As awful as 2020 was, we enjoyed spending time together. I started making candles, and the boys were willing testers. We went through the science and math involved in making a great candle. And they talked me into starting a business. They hated remote learning, but took it in stride as their professors figured out zoom lessons and how to teach subjects online, like chemistry, without actually doing any labs.
We were excited for 2021. Back to life as we knew it. But 2021 came in, looked at 2020, and said "Hold my beer!" Marsha died the first week of January. She was 14 and her health was deteriorating quickly. My youngest son was just 5 years old when we took Marsha home, and he really didn't know life without her.
My dad was diagnosed with cancer, and just finished up his round of radiation therapy when he caught COVID. He had no immune system left, and no strength to fight it. Face-timing goodbye to him was the worst thing I ever had to do, and will haunt me forever. He lost his battle on February 9th. We could not have a proper funeral for him due to restrictions from COVID, and just the closest family members gathered to say our final farewell. My mom has severe Alzheimer's, and I tried to get her to come live with us in Pennsylvania. She was uncontrollable, though, and simple tasks like showering and taking her medication became battles. We had no choice but to find a home that can help her. I spoke to my parents every day on the phone. The empty void is horrible. I now speak to my mother about once a week, and it's generally a quick phone call. When I hang up, it takes me a bit to compose myself again. Jay and I had our house on the market, and it sold quickly. Our plans were to move to Florida, and we kept those plans. I can fly into Albany in less time than I could drive from PA, so visiting won't be an issue. My original plan was to go back in October to visit her. But 2021 had other ideas in mind. Jay's grandmother became ill with COVID. She fought long and hard, but even though she was vaccinated, she just did not have the strength needed. She passed away on October 9th. Off we go to Oklahoma, and again, just a small service with mostly close relatives. My dad's birthday is coming up next week. I am dreading it. And the holidays. My youngest son already suggested we make lamb for Thanksgiving instead of the traditional turkey, in honor of my dad. I will try to cook a feast he'd be proud of. The main lesson I am taking away from 2021 is that it's ok to not be ok. Being strong does not mean never falling apart. It doesn't mean that you cannot cry. Being strong means that tomorrow you pick up the pieces of your shattered soul and begin to put them back together. Prior to the events of this year, I was telling you all about Moose and Marsha - the dogs behind the name of my business. I gave Marsha's story and was working on Moose's when this year turned grim. I will continue the journey with them soon. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for our Christmas collection, which will be available soon!
Thanks for sticking through this with me!