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I Can’t Believe It Actually Happened

August 27, 2021

Something big happened this week. A monumental thing that I was beginning to think would never actually come to be.

My children went back to school. I mean in-person, out-of-my-hair and out-of-my-house school.

Yet I find myself conflicted.

We’ve gotten used to each other’s rhythms over the past roughly year and a half, and have enjoyed large swathes of our time at home and together.

They would otherwise be out on the town, with friends.

We’ve sunbathed on our porch, gone for bike rides, hung out on our hammock, and eaten well – I even tried to give them Czech lessons. I learned that I probably could successfully home school them if I had to – although, yes, it would make it harder for me to get what I consider an adequate amount of work done. But still, it would be possible and not entirely unpleasant. I’m a pretty good teacher, after all – at least according to my students from way back in my teaching days. And my children are damned good pupils, if I do say so myself. Curious, skeptical, funny, hungry for experience, and willing to take chances.

My husband and son on a camping trip in Moab last summer

Ultimately, however, the social aspect of going to school is something we all value almost as much as the instruction. And being writers, both my husband and I need some solitude – time away from everyone, even our beloved kids and each other – in order to do our best work, our most thorough and creative thinking.

But I won’t lie. I miss them.

As happy as I was to see them driving away Monday morning – off to meet up with friends at a local cafe for some first-day-of-school coffees – I knew this unexpected, uncomfortable, yet undeniably close Covid-era togetherness was coming to an end. While I’m not anxious for the return of lockdowns, and I hope for the sake of our collective health (both mental and physical), that the Delta variant disappears as quickly as it’s flared up, I’ve not-so-secretly enoyed the fact that my kids have been forced, for the collective good, to be homebodies.

Even if I do think friend groups, neighborhood haunts, breaking the rules, and otherwise spreading their wings and sowing their wild oats (within reason) are crucial aspects of development, and would never deny them any of these on purpose.

Nor would I ever deny that Covid has cost our family and our community a lot. I lost my father to Covid. While I was raised by my mother’s second husband, a man I called “Dad,” my biological father was a huge part of my life, my story. A deeply quirky and eccentric man, he was the source material of countless, often hilarious anecdotes.

About his almost pathological obsession with the outdoors (at the ripe old age of eighty, he was still camping for a full half of the year).

And how he would play passionate concertos on our piano – beautifully – only he’d do it at 2:00 a.m., and seem genuinely perplexed when I would come downstairs and ask him to give it a rest. That the kids had school the next day!

Or that he was in love with my mother until the very end, despite the fact that they’d been divorced for over fifty years.

My father was terrified of COVID, yet single and lonely. His need for company is what would kill him, when he broke down one night and went to a local drinking hole – just for some company. Some thirty people would become infected with the virus at that bar, and he would be one of them.

My father, with a date.

We lost friends to depression. Two people we care about deeply took their own lives. Smart, funny, loving people, who had been fully engaged in life! I believe the Covid lockdowns played no small part in their feelings of despair.

And we know people whose businesses closed, or just barely hung on.

Still, I’m aware of how lucky I am. To have not gotten sick, or gone broke, or lost my mind. Most of all, to have been given the opportunity to spend quality and quantity time with the people I love most.

Looking back, I think that’s all I’ll remember. That, and my husband’s fabulous, nightly cocktail concoctions.

A fresh Hemingway Daquiri by Jack Dougherty
4 Comments
  1. COVID has severely impacted the world, something I find troubling in this age of scientific advances.

    Sorry to hear about your father, Vic. Take care.

  2. Thanks, Tim. Love to you and yours 🙂

  3. A moving account of an unforgettable time, Victoria! All the best to you and yours. x

  4. You, too, Roz. How’s Covid life in the UK?

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