Growth

A year ago this week we celebrated our grandson’s 2nd birthday with friends and family. We went to a play gym, touched equipment freely and breathed in air with strangers. We had so much fun when our little guy announced, “Bobby’s Birthday!” to all of us while he waited for his daddy to light the candle on his cupcake. Pleasure chemicals released themselves in our collective brain and we all smiled with joy. We didn’t know that in just a short week, everything would change and joy would become more of a memory than a present emotion.

Daycare closed.

Work moved from office to home for the guys and from school to home for Theresa.

I was instantly living in a world inhabited by three other adults and two toddlers. It was delightful and horrible in equal measures. My husband and I had only lived here in Texas for 6 months with half of that time spent apart. Adjusting to a new place takes time and with that comes the adjustment to the new routine created by his work. His new position with Maxi Lift required that he spend 50% of his time on the road visiting customers and attending trade shows. We had just reached a place where we had found a rhythm with each other’s presence one week and its absence the next. When the shutdown arrived all of that growth was lost. Just like that we were transported to an entirely new dimension and just like that so was the entire world.

As children in elementary school we all learn about seeds and plants. Those lessons teach us the early realities of what it means for a seed to undergo the changes required to sprout, take root, grow and reach a point of fruition. We learn that life is a continual circle of life, growth and death. We come to understand that a seed’s growth requires a meeting of elements beyond itself to get the job done. Wise teachers use the plant as a metaphor of human growth and change. Most of us live our lives with this understanding completely unaware that our early childhood school experience gave it to us, we just know it’s true. What is less understood for us as human beings is that the elements out there are not always kind to growing things. Two weeks ago, here in Texas, the elements directed by Mother Nature took an already captive people into a corner and whipped it about with ice, snow and frigid temperatures in a place where furnaces running are rare and insulation around pipes even more rare. As with plants in a garden facing elements like this, lives were threatened and some actually lost because it was just too much.

Growth in 2021 has been challenged to the depths for me. It wasn’t enough to go through the snowmageddon and survive but our little Bobby whose daycare had closed again (this time for just 2 weeks at the beginning of February due to a positive Covid test in his classroom) came home from daycare…and tested positive a week later. A few days later our son Stephen tested positive. A few days later, baby AJ tested positive…and a few days later our daughter-in-law Theresa tested positive. Everyone has come through with a mild case and quarantine ends on Thursday, an entire month. We have supported from outside through drop offs and talking through screens and a lot of FaceTime calls.We’ve taken what we thought were calculated risks but when any little sore throat or cough arose went into despair until the Covid test returned negative. The mind’s ability to make one literally sick is truly profound.

Last Thursday, after my negative test, I was desperate for a vaccine. So desperate that when my neighbor encouraged me to check the CVS website and I found it available out in Midland, Texas, just 5.5 hours away, I made an appointment. Last weekend I received my first shot of the Moderna vaccine. Today, Dean is volunteering in Bell County, an hour away so that he can get a shot because he doesn’t meet the criteria here in Texas. I think he’s helping to direct traffic today. Tomorrow he’ll assist with temperature checks. Two days off of work to get vaccinated because for us, it’s worth it. We’re about done in.

A podcast I listen to called the Osterholm Update from CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) based at the University of Minnesota warns that a very difficult surge of the UK virus is on the way and yesterday The Houston Chronicle reported that every strain of the virus has been found there. Dr. O likens the reality of what is about to hit the U.S. to a Covid 19 hurricane that will bring us the worst season yet for this pandemic.

The experts say that the only way to achieve herd immunity in any reasonable amount of time is through vaccine distribution. These “experts” are infectious disease, immunology specialists and those in public health. If American’s resist the vaccine, the only alternative is to get the virus and take your chances at survival. As I take in that information, like anything else in 2021, it’s a walk through a hall of mirrors where delusional images abound and reality is only found in the knowledge that you have internalized over a lifetime. It’s profound when I hear others tell me that they aren’t putting anything like that vaccine into their body. These same people, many of whom will eat whatever they want, drink enough alcohol to persevere their liver for future generations to find in archaeological digs, smoke and take incredible risks in other ways, will not put that vaccine into their body? I say to myself, “What the incredible hell?” As if that isn’t enough, another friend told us that he’s certain Bill Gates is using the vaccine to do something nefarious to us because we know he sterilized thousands of young girls in Africa…Head spins at this “news”. As if that isn’t enough bullshit for a lifetime, my parents inform me that they were told that the government is going to be tracking them with the microscopic chip (that somehow finds its way through that vial of vaccine into the syringe and into the arm) if they get the vaccine. Thank God my mom replied with, “How can they think the government can’t find them right now if they want to?” Phew we dodged that bullet! My parents get their first shot on Friday.

It’s hard to grasp that this thing that arrived a year ago is still here, that we are all very much still dealing with it. But we are.

As I have been processing all of this in recent weeks one thing has really stood out to me. The choice to face life as it is and grow from it is the only thing that we all really have. The choice to be real – to face our fears and our own versions of crazy is what is vital to our living a full and meaningful life. I’m struggling right now. The only growth I have going on is what there is inside of me. I hope to be a different person as a result of having lived through this past year. Sunday we’re having a socially distanced birthday party for Bobby’s 3rd birthday and I’m so very grateful.

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