John and I were safely tucked away in Tucson when the pandemic hit. With a month left on our winter rental lease, we decided to stick it out where we were. Besides, our newly-retired dear friends had just arrived from Michigan. News of the pandemic, along with the stock market crash, provided us with an opportunity to bond in a deeper way. We talked about our shared faith and took comfort in the absolute trust of our decades-long friendship. We started the pandemic together and watched our accounts tank together and knew together that our faith and families were all that really mattered. Pandemic Partnership.
Once the gym shut its doors and the golf course instituted forced restrictions, it opened up even more time for hiking in Sabino Canyon and the surrounding areas.The mountains and canyons were not only filled with cacti of all kinds, they were also full of families with school-aged children who seemed to be delighted to be hanging with their parents instead of being stuck at a desk all day in school. Pandemic Parade.
We spent a lot of time on the phone with our adult children who were now at home full time. We Facetimed with the grandkids and heard details about their new, exciting days. Our Zoey missed school and her friends, but she and her mom started a seedling garden in the basement. They spent their days doing art and science projects. She learned to read. Her dad was working from home, and every day they took a family walk. It was similar in all the other households. Our littles were pleased as punch to be at home all day with both mom and dad and their siblings. Pandemic Parents.
I was able to spend more time working on my novel, sending out more and more query letters. Does anyone want this thing? I wondered. I let it rest a few days and then pitched Close to the Soul one more time. To my delight, Ellen Gable at https://www.fullquiverpublishing.com/ asked me to send the whole thing to her. After years of on-and-off querying and nearly three dozen rejections, I could not have imagined this in my wildest dreams. Pandemic Publish.
I was able to start a second novel based on a woman we met in Antigua (of all places) after Mass one Sunday. She was on a cruise with her sister. Upon hearing that we would be wintering in Tucson, she invited us to visit her and her husband “at our little place,” she had said. On the mysterious drive there, and most certainly after spending an unusual afternoon with Joanne and her John, I told my husband that I already knew what my second novel is going to be about. I can’t wait to weave this Minnesota couple fictionally into the story. Pandemic Perchance.
I dug deeper into the true calling of my heart and began to pray to be worthy of my eternal home of heaven. No longer able to attend Mass, we watched on television in the quiet of our dwelling. There was something very holy about that gift. I saw my husband grow closer to his faith. I saw most of our children dig into theirs as they shared through family texts what time and at which church around the globe they had “attended” Easter Mass. Pandemic Piety.
When it was time to leave the safety of our Tucson rental, we planned a quicker return to our home state of Michigan. We plotted our path, packed all the food and beverages we would need for three days, made limited stops, and sterilized the hotel surfaces just to be safe. Pandemic Patrol.
As late spring and summer rolled in, we spent most of our time at our cottages—two little abodes on a small inland lake an hour’s drive from our home in Grand Rapids. The kids visited consistently, one family at a time. The pandemic had given them all a case of cabin fever, so having a safe and fun place to run off to on weekends was a super blessing for our hard-working young families. And the one-on-one time with our adult kids and spouses and whatever littles they had given birth to was such a gift. Pandemic Party.
One of our daughters gave birth to our fifth grandson in three years–Ignatius. Pandemic Posterity.
For our family, normal challenges aside, the pandemic has grown our family’s creativity and appreciation for each other. I’ve seen our kids respect their siblings even when they didn’t agree on what all was necessary for safety. I’ve seen them go out of their ways to devise cousin play dates outside. I’ve seen them take up new hobbies and teach others through phone calls, texts, and zooms. I’ve seen them love their own families and our larger one in heroic ways through forgiveness and service. We pray for them, enjoy them, and let them run their own pandemic strategies. Leading our family by just being and resisting the urge to rescue them has been wonderfully positive. And I am thankful. Pandemic Perspective.