Solidarity Sunday #6: Missed Milestones

Yet no certainty is possible. We must accustom our eyes to the twilight

Peter Ackroyd, Foundation

When I sat down to write this today I confess that I was completely unsure of what day of the week it was. I had all the best intentions to start scheduling posts ahead of time (I even have an ambitious schedule of post already brainstormed and posted on a lined sheet of paper on the wall beside my desk) and yet, so far, this level of organization has eluded me.

Now, one might ask, does not the fact that Monday begins the workweek give it some kind of dreaded importance making it an impossible day to forget? Perhaps for most this is the case but since I have decided to forgo the 9-5 existence in order to stay home with my little Aria, the days of the week have accordingly lost their typical structure leading to days that feel full and fast on their own as opposed to simply things to get through until the weekend rolls around once more.

But what about my husband? Doesn’t his work schedule make it easier to remember what day of the week it is? Another good question, hypothetical reader of mine. Yes, Louis does work full-time at a more typical 9-5 type job which necessitates remembering the existence of Mondays. However, since we have been slogging through this never-ending pandemic, he has had the great fortune of working from home which means Sundays are not capped off by a desperate attempt to be under the covers at a decent hour in preparation for an obscenely early wake-up call. His hours being a bit more flexible, and minus the typical commute, Mondays have lost their ubiquitous “beginning of the work week blues” and have now become only a bit more structured than the two glorious weekend days.

What is the point of all this, you ask?

Another great question!

Only that I meant to write this post yesterday and quite literally forgot it was Saturday. That’s why.

So, after that loquacious beginning, lets get to today’s topic. Shall we? It’s related to all this, I swear.

pandemic life

A surprise from my MIL! I can’t wait to welcome friends to our home again… (Photo: Erin of the Hills)

I’m not sure what the pandemic has looked like in your part of the world, but over here it has been characterized by a nauseatingly frantic dance of lock-down, open up, restrict, lock-down again, tease an opening, lock-down further instead, talk about opening up, open up for a week, JUST KIDDING stay in your houses again.

Now, I’m not arguing against the need for locking down, using face masks and restricting contact. I think these are all very necessary challenges in order to ensure that at some point we will be able to get back to some semblance of normal.

I am only saying that it seems like our government tends to open up too early after each outbreak, leading to further outbreaks and more lockdown. I realize that they are dealing with all kinds of complexity, and I can’t pretend to understand how COVID had disrupted the lives of each and every one of my fellow Canadians, but it seems to me that if we just stayed in lockdown a bit longer next time…cases would disappear…no?

OK. That was another long segue. Essentially what I’m getting at is that there has been precious little certainty of what constitutes acceptable behaviour during this pandemic and what seemingly innocent act crosses the line. Some, including our household, have chosen the path of most certainty by keeping as much to themselves as possible. We have a bubble of family, yes, but overall we have been staying pretty isolated and are very careful about who we allow to be in close contact with us.

What this has led to, and I’m sure we’re not alone, is the inability to celebrate many of life’s milestones, both small and large, which make up a normal part of human social life.

Missed Milestones

It seems appropriate to be publishing this on Easter weekend as the newest lockdown started today in Ontario and we were all unable to gather with our loved ones to celebrate. The big milestones 2020 (and possibly even most of 2021) has seen postponed include:

  • Weddings
  • Funerals
  • Anniversaries
  • Birthdays, big and small
  • Holidays

weddings

One of my favourite images from our wedding in 2019 (Photo: Saidia Photography)

My husband and I were lucky enough to have our wedding in 2019 but I am in the wedding party for a few who have had to postpone…sometimes multiple times. The heartbreak and frustration is palpable. Even as these brides and grooms struggle to put on a brave face and shrug it off as an inconvenience, this is supposed to be one of the happiest occasions in your life! It takes so much planning. To get so far into the planning and dreaming process only to have to start again from scratch…just thinking about it makes my head hurt. My heart goes out to all of those whose engagement are by necessity much longer than they had hoped.

funerals

As for funerals, we have been to far too many in the past few years as a couple but the (hopefully) final one for a while was one we could not even attend. As far as we know, the passing of my husband’s grandfather was not Covid-related but he still departed this world to reunite with his beloved wife after the pandemic had hit our shores. Because of this, we were not able to drive down to Laval to say goodbye and that, well, that was hard. So many have lost loved ones, either as a consequence of the pandemic or in the course of regular life that that has continued to chug along even when the world seems to be put on pause. It is hard enough to lose a loved one without the added devastation of not being able to gather to say goodbye. The ritual of the funeral is so ingrained in human culture, to have it disrupted so abruptly without any indication on when we may be able to resume our traditional ways of grieving makes it hard to know how to move on. It is almost as if our grief, along with normal life, is being put on hold – I wonder how hard it might hit once we have the capacity to let ourselves feel it fully again.

anniversaries and birthdays

A very pared-down version of the birthday decorations we wanted for Aria’s birthday, but beautiful nonetheless. Put together by my brother’s wonderful girlfriend! (Photo: Erin of the Hills)

As for anniversaries and birthdays, I know everyone celebrates these differently and so for some the pandemic may have had no effect whatsoever on plans in this respect. However, if you’re like me, you like to mark these occasions with special outings or raucous celebrations with friends and loved ones (depending on the occasion). My husband and I would have loved a weekend away for our first anniversary, especially having just stumbled out of our daughter’s newborn phase otherwise known as the fourth trimester. I know we will be able to do this over once the pandemic ends but even dreaming about what we might do for that celebratory weekend is put on hold until the world begins to make sense again.

I’ve written about this before, but our little girl turned one on January 27th of this year and we could not even celebrate that milestone as we would have wished to. We managed to cobble together a few distanced and smaller gatherings, which were lovely in themselves, but we missed out on the chance to celebrate with all of our loved ones – even if this is most certainly a birthday Aria won’t remember anyhow. In fact, I still have her first birthday card on my desk and I still haven’t written a message in it. I suppose this is my own way of dealing with the grief of being unable to mark this incredible milestone how I would have liked: with all the love we could have possibly crammed into our little home.

holidays

Another surprise, this one for Aria from my parents! (Photo: Erin of the Hills)

As mentioned above, for our family at least as well as many other practicing and non-practicing Christians, this weekend was Easter weekend. In fact, Easter Sunday (today apparently) is the day when we would usually gather for a special meal or two with one or both sides of our family. It would actually have been Aria’s first egg hunt, not that she would have done much hunting for eggs. More likely, she would have found one and sat down comfortably to chew on it and try to get it open. Such is the life for a baby. But in the interest of helping this pandemic to end before next Easter, we decided to follow the rules and not gather to celebrate.

I miss the noise, the overeating, the hugs, the massive amounts of chocolate, the overlapping conversations. All of it. I miss all of it. And I’m sure I’m not alone in this. When is the next holiday…the May long weekend? Hopefully I’ll be writing a completely different post by then. Hopefully. Wouldn’t that be nice?

And so many others…

There are so many other milestones I could have added to this post that unfortunately went largely unmarked (at least in the traditional sense) this year. My husband and I are at an age now where many of the big life events are happening around us and to us all around the same time: friends getting married, babies being born, the oldest generation passing away, parents and siblings reaching “big” birthday years (60, 30, 25). It has been incredibly difficult to watch these circled dates pass on the calendar celebrated only by a phone call or a text message. I know I’m not alone in this, and I’m sending you love and support as you send yet another “Happy Birthday!” text followed by a virtual hug. It’s hard, I know.

However, I want to finish this with a message of hope. Vaccines are rolling out across our county (and the globe), the weather is getting warmer (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere!) and there is a sense of possibility lingering in the air. This pandemic, though overlong already, is not going to last forever and before we know it we will be back in each other’s backyards, homes and arms, celebrating how great it is to live this life the way it is meant to be lived: together.

Just a reminder that our roots are strong – continue to draw strength from them as we weather this pandemic (Photo: Erin of the Hills)

Yes, right now, we may need to accustom our eyes to the twilight. But after the twilight and the dark of night comes the dawn. Of that, I am certain.

And, remember, Life is beautiful.

xo Erin

What Missed Milestones have you found hardest to get through? Let me know in the comments below. After all, it is Solidarity Sunday!

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