Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on November 25, 2020# COVID-19, Caregiving, Lifestyle
Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday ever since I could remember. As a little girl, I used to believe that the family, whether at my maternal grandmother’s house in Orrington, Maine, surrounded by my aunts, uncles, and cousins, or my dad’s extended family in Philadelphia, PA, gathered together in honor of my birthday and not so much for the national holiday. This Thanksgiving, following the wildest presidential election since the beginning of time, stuck right in the middle of a pandemic with COVID numbers on the rise, seems extra special, extra grateful, and extra savory.
The word “savor,” according to my online dictionary.com, means “to enjoy or appreciate (something pleasant) completely, especially by dwelling on it.” This is what COVID has taught me this spring, summer, and fall more than any other lesson– to savor, to appreciate, and make each moment, both beyond our home as well as within it, count. My students at school this year are not taking one moment for granted. Their behavior, work ethic, patience with masks, and one another– have all been truly remarkable given their adolescent status. Last March, all that they knew of normalcy was ripped from their 14-year-old fingertips. Grateful to be in school, they savor each day, even the little, mundane aspects of the in-between time, while classes are changing, when we take our 4-minute mask break to walk around the field beyond my classroom door, etc. They savor each day, not knowing when it might be their last in-person for who knows how long.
Our grandparent’s contingency savors each moment spent this fall with their grandchildren as we did not let them hug or hang out inside all those months last spring. Watching them not be able to visit their friends or other children because of the pandemic just about broke my heart. We are so lucky to be able to live nearby so that they can see us. We’ve been soaking up as much sunshine as November allows which sadly, is never enough, especially now that the clocks have turned back. We’ve returned to regular Sunday dinners, which are more in the afternoon, savoring both wonderful food and family along with Geoff’s waning days of weekends off. He returns to Loon Mountain full time, probably by the time this post is published. We savor our time. We are grateful our parents continue to be in good health and young at heart, and frisky enough to still live independently.
So, there is really no need this year for this caregiver, this mom who is turning 46, for any other birthday wishes. When so many have lost so much in one year, the fact that we have love and friends and family and everyday laughter to savor is enough. Our children are excited to ski and snowboard this winter, even if that feels totally weird without lodges or chair lift rides with friends. We savor our memories of this summer and fall, when we all learned how to downhill mountain bike, how to build a good fire, how to level a treehouse deck, and be creative outside over afternoon firepit smores and homemade drive-in movies.
We sure do miss our family and friends in faraway places. Maine and Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio, Missouri and Florida, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts- Germany too- have never felt so hard to reach. Yet, we savor the memories until we can share them again one day. We hope that families can gather virtually through technology and know that although it is not perfect, it is enough. It has to be because this is what 2020 has taught us. Savor these days, the sun, the stuffing, the turkey, cranberry sauce, our children at 9 and 1/2 and verging on 11, our parents at 74, 75, 76, and 80, treehouses, snow, the potential for a divided nation coming together, dreams for vaccines for everything, green bean casserole, future Friendsgiving, cures for spinal cord injuries, mashed potatoes, world peace, an end to hunger, apple pie, squash and, most importantly, hope. Savor the hope each day. Savor the humans who help us to find it when we need it and remember to share it back when they need it more. I just want to say Happy Thanksgiving to our friends and family near and wide. We miss you.
Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta, who are 10 and 9. Please check out her novel True North, website www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.