A watershed week…

Dear Diary,

It’s been a while.

I found better things to do.

Love ya, mean it –

Me

.

I got my hug(s).
Hugs all around, all week.

The 4-year drought was broken this week when John Latta came to town for a few days, time enough to really connect again, with us and his Auntie Rita. The hours were pure joy, no rush, no big deal, just together. The phenomenon that is COVID has left us all standing, so far, at least… and that’s no small thing, with John working in its midst at the hospital from the beginning, and Rita and I managing to contract it despite our precautions. Kim comes out looking like a star, with his asthma and heart history… out there doing ALL THE THINGS all year, and never sick a day except for that nasty food poisoning. We know it isn’t over, but here we were, together again, and that was huge.

The four of us took a drive around Lawrence so John could be blown away by almost thirty years of growth and other changes on KU’s campus and the town since he moved to Atlanta, and that was fun, but after they’ve seen the big city they’re not all that easy to impress. 😊

The time between Monday afternoon and 9:00 this morning passed every bit as fast as we knew it would, but we packed a lot of good food, great laughs, and even better conversation into the hours. The Oncology RN with hospice skilz and an uncanny grasp of human nature was here long enough to quietly assess the health and wellbeing of the parental units, and he very graciously and seriously answered questions the three of us had about our health in general. It was a beautifully-timed visit, urged into action by the love and friendship of Kevin Bruce, and John’s partner Anthony, who both sensed it was time for the Mama to see Mr. John and vice versa. We agreed today on the way to MCI that we won’t let four years pass again before we see each other, no matter what tries to intervene… little things like broken bones, illnesses, insane scheduling, and pandemics. Meh, mere details.

I’ve been moody and weepy since about March of 2020, right through the election and its aftermath, even as things began to look more hopeful for the world… and I kept wondering when that other shoe would drop… when I’d feel some sort of resolution to the events of the past five years or so… when I might feel real again, with compelling reasons to still BE, and a genuine interest in pursuing all the good stuff in this third trimester of life. The errant shoe found a solid landing this week when John’s plane touched down, and the hours before he boarded again for home were valuable beyond measure.

My deepest gratitude to the people who love us – they help us keep life as it CAN be, at its best.

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Feelin’ froggy…

Much happened in the past week, but with little outward change to show for it. The partisan divide that we hoped would begin to resolve after the former guy left only continues to intensify, making agreement on any matter a bridge too far for Congress. This week’s most heinous example: Benghazi somehow required ten investigations and thirty-three hearings, but the assault on our Capitol and democratic rule doesn’t merit even a second look by some of the very people who were under direct threat. Those senators who voted against sanity haven’t succeeded in concealing anything, most especially their own cowardice, and shamefully two of those people “represent” Kansas, which makes me want to hop a bus and flee the state.

Dan, never my type, is my late-life crush… I love him for his mind.

As usual, though, the week’s haul of good stuff has weighed more AND been worth its weight in gold… and when it comes to good news, the small things are the big things…

1.) Douglas County has brought COVID case numbers down to near zero, so protocols are being relaxed. At SPL the announcement was made on Thursday “NO MASKS REQUIRED” (for the fully vaccinated) and those old PickleBallers were celebrating.

2.) The Royals have been fun to watch and are playing some really good baseball, looking more and more like the cohesive team they’ve shown they can be.

3.) Food is a friend again, both good and bad news but definitely more fun – I polished off a hot beef sandwich at Kelley’s again on Thursday like I’d been chopping firewood all morning, and then snacked all afternoon. Um, yikes.

4.) The best thing this week was a text convo with John and this shot of him wearing a t-shirt brought to him from Ghana by a co-worker he mentored. The map and trim are made from kente, Ghana’s national fabric.

The guy in the t-shirt looks to have weathered a year-plus of COVID by getting younger, a nice bonus I wasn’t expecting for him, all things considered. We last hugged him, in Atlanta, in the spring of 2017, which my remaining math skilz tell me was four years ago. I was thinking it had been two or maybe three years, so the realization that four years have passed is putting me in a time warp. Life has intervened since 2017 – broken bones, illness, schedules, commitments, and COVID have all combined to keep us hug-less – but love and trust and silliness and blessed technology have made up the difference in sweet welcome ways and all is well. Life is life, we’re all adults here, it goes on. Still, universe… a hug would be nice.

It’s a chilly Saturday but people have been going back and forth to Farmer’s Market all morning so there’s life in the neighborhood. The pulse of #lfk is quickening, week by week, as people crawl out of their caves and shelters and venture forth again, and I’m here for it even when it’s just from my 4th-floor perch. In retrospect, the past year seems like a Dark Age with only the ghost light left on for guidance… and coming through and out of it feels like winning. No victory comes without loss, but it’s sweet nonetheless – humans are designed for progress and positivity, it’s our bread and water and we move on. I’m deeply grateful on this gray weekend that everyone whose love and caring I depend on, everyone whom I love beyond telling… has survived the pandemic. That’s something 600,000 American families can’t say this morning and my heart breaks that it’s true… so I’m inexpressibly grateful. We’ll still get a chance for those hugs one of these days…

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The After

It was fall just last month, with leaves covering the ground while our hemisphere said night-night ’til spring… and now spring is HERE, or will be in a couple of days. It’s been cold this week, but the grass is green and the trees are budding. My tall duck-blind here on the corner tells me the story every day, and the takeaway is that nothing is final except death, so where there’s life… hope exists.

I observed a moment of silence yesterday in honor of my Diary-of-The-Year-That-Was, after I made my final entry. She was a sweet muse, my diary friend, and she carried me through dark and light for 365 days without leaving me to my own ends. I missed her immediately, I miss her still… but endings are sometimes the next step in the process if you do it right. I had an imaginary friend around age four whose name was Agnes Opal and whose persona I absorbed, along with her delicious moniker, but she didn’t make it to 1st Grade with me. We were country kids without the privilege of kindergarten at our small school, so I managed to shed all vestiges of Agnes before I was found out by my peers, OMG. Endings… don’t argue when they stop you in your tracks – you may have escaped a fate worse than death and you’ll never even know. My uncles thought it was just damn cute when I said my name was Agnes Opal, but it wouldn’t have given me a great start on the playground, so yeah… endings. Once you figure out that LIFE CONSISTS OF CHANGE from womb to tomb, you own the formula for peace. But full disclosure, it’s tricky to apply.

Today’s our official immunity date after our COVID vaccinations, which will change very few things in our immediate world except for that breathe-a-little-easier feeling. We’ve done what we can, we dealt with a wonky health year in our household, and we’ll keep masking in public for as long as we need to. Douglas County’s new cases yesterday were ZERO, so there’s that hopey-changey thing again, always in the background.

I couldn’t be more ready for spring and the joy of walking onto the balcony barefoot and soaking up sunshine. It’s a good time to come out of the cave.

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A year in the time of COVID… page 233

Day 365 – 03/16/2021

One full year, with a diary page every day & a half to show for it… I’m calling that creativity. These 233 pages hold joy and tears, light spirits and heavy hearts, my truth, reality as it happened, shock and awe. Kim and I created our own environment in here when we sheltered, and fine-tuned our routine to meet the circumstances. We’ve creatively avoided driving each other screaming yellow bananas in this open loft, and managed to create an even better vibe than before. Creativity matters in a crunch, as does patience.

The only thing I’ve had no patience for is the jerks.

This year in the catacombs could have been so much easier on everyone, and infinitely less deadly, but it was what it was, we went through some things, and eventually it’ll all just magically fade away. The mantra from hell still haunts…

All year I’ve railed against injustice on these pages, grieved cruelty and loss, damned stupidity, sought answers to the human dilemma, wished for connection… but a speed-skim from March 16, 2020 to today tells me it’s been at least 85% sunshine all up in here, and I’m glad I can look back and know that.

After the steady outpour, it could be time for a sabbatical, so I’ll be consulting with the muses… when they fall silent, I follow suit. Writing it all down was a wise plan… likely the best care I could have provided to myself and anyone who’s had to deal with me.

But tomorrow restarts the clock for 2021 & a half, as all of us survey the wreckage and wonder where to start. The challenges will gradually become less life-or-death, and more life-or-less. But it’s hard to settle for less, knowing what we know, and being alive all the way seems like the only choice. Thinking about sunshine… thinking about all the good hearts who got us this far.

So, Diary, I’ll take you underground again and close the book on the past twelve months. It was a microcosm of everything good or bad about the human experience, and it’s a valuable bit of living added to my arsenal of understanding. I learned things I wouldn’t have comprehended any other way… and it was past time.

My personal regrets in life are almost solely over stupid things I’ve said, leaving people with wrong impressions. But regretting circumstances isn’t in me because if you change one thing you’ve changed everything. So we live what’s in front of us and hope we do it right… and I have no regrets over the year we just survived. We kept up with the science, we followed the protocols, we’re fully vaccinated, and everything from here on out is gravy. Hmmm… wouldn’t it be nice.

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