I’m back to walking with my friends.  And eating whole foods, not just soups. Fats and dairy seem to be troublesome, and I won’t got near red meat for a while, but I look good again-and I feel terrific.  Hopefully, this will last.  At least until the next round of treatment and surgery.  It brings such a fresh start to a needed New Year.  2020 wasn’t good for so many reasons and for so many of us.  I say Let’s. Move. On. 

And yet, every time I look ahead, I’m struck by the vast unknown of it.  Covid has shrunk my life.  Cancer has permanently altered it, if not abbreviated it.  And I keep wanting more of what I had.  Family, visits, dinners, movies, travel.  I miss my granddaughters.  I miss my son; I miss my daughter.  I miss driving to a destination and visiting a place, a person, an event.  And then I realize this is really kind of cozy and has so many valid rewards.  Hadassah is still reaching out with food and clothing drives; I’ve managed to travel to many destinations and visited marvelous museums and even played a few games.  We have had our annual installation event on zoom—Oh yes.  I’m a zoom bunny.  It’s my briar patch.  I want in but know it’s fraught with ennui and oh hums and sideline conversations that I might enjoy more than the topic at hand.   Let me share my favorite.  

We’re all signing on and recognizing each other for the first time in several months.  We haven’t really mastered the technology or invasiveness that zoom can bring.  So, we’re seeing each other and trying to hear each other before the meeting starts.  It was almost a burlesque of Hollywood Squares in East Coast squawkese.  Square 1 to square 15 is interrupted by square 7 as joined by box 12 while box I9 is holding a completely different cross conversation with one or two or three other Zoomers. ALOUD.  The How are you’s?  The you look so different!  Is your hair curly or straight?  I think a ponytail looks good on you.  Oh, her husband died!  I didn’t know. When?  Of what?  So sorry. Yes, and so and so is hospitalized but we don’t know why-no visitors or communication because of COVID-19.  No, No!  She won’t be coming to this meeting.  She passed away two weeks ago.  Who has a cold?  You went where?  Do they deliver?   Is it a boy or girl? Random concentric conversations.  Scattershot.  You hardly know who’s talking to whom. All this scatter conversation before the meeting made a macabre socialization capsule and made me laugh.  Odd but true.   

And now there’s my return to my morning walk. My local friends from synagogue and Hadassah join me at 8:30 in the morning and we make it simple for my sake. But it feels so good.  I have legs-and we can talk, talk and talk and the path disappears beneath my feet. 

What do we talk about?  The next Hadassah food drive?  Family?  Health?  No—we return to an interesting moment in our past.  Many years ago-a little more than 20 perhaps-we gathered our baby/child goodies as our kids were having kids.  We rounded every spare thing up into a friend’s garage with a sign out sheet: name, address, phone number and date of pick up.  This was maintained for a few years, until our grandkids were out of strollers, car seats, playpens etc.  And now—Here we are again.  But now we’ve store housing medical appliances: wheelchairs, port-a-potties, wipes, wraps, walkers, canes, blood pressure cuffs-you name it.  Ah-the signs of the times.  We are our own industry and family.  I don’t know many or any other communities as deeply committed to each other as ours.  There are about 2 dozen families who participate in creating this web of extended care and love.  If one of us needs help, I can attest, the food, the visits (even remotely through the doorway), the drives to doctors, the phone calls, the pick-ups and deliveries, the favors are showered on you until you are secure in your battle.  And if you’re lucky like me and have a respite between treatments and medications, you can return to a truncated normal or even get a chance to help the next one.  Strange times. 

And that’s the cozy. I know we feel so far away from each other.  Yet, we are so very close.  We live as individuals with our own families and best friends and errands and households and husbands.  But here a band of sisters emerges, and the entire village can show up to take turns walking your dog because you can’t.  One husband volunteers to help you into the car, or another will take you to a doctor’s appointment or even start your cars so they don’t die from lack of use.  Change a lightbulb?  You bet.  It’s a family.  We even call it that now.  We get together as a family and share news of the day via facetime, zoom, back yard afternoons-and the occasional meal-done with care and distancing.  When COVID-19 ends, when the vaccine does its work, I hope to keep this closeness and appreciate it as a norm.  Yes, I want to travel, eat at a restaurant, go to the theatre-What happens to my Hamilton tickets? I want I want I want –but I need family. 

I’m back from a brink.  A bit nervous for how tenuous it might be.  But so grateful for this ‘family of friends’ and for the good sense to recognize it for the good it is.  I see a challenging 2021 for me—and for everyone.  I wish you good health and peace and a cozy normal.