In 2020, my dad was diagnosed with cancer in January. In February we got an official confirmation that Carter is on the Autism spectrum. In March the whole world locked down. In April a long time, very close friend unfriended me without a word. She did this not only on Facebook but also in the flesh, which became clearer with each passing month. In June my grandpa was hospitalized and kept for a month with no visitors allowed. Even though he had virtually no symptoms, he kept testing positive for COVID. It was a long, hard month. In November we decided to put our house up for rent. In December my grandfather died, of old age.
In 2021, we moved to Florida on January 18th. I texted one of my best friends on January 19th to let her know we made it, and she texted the sweetest words back. This soul sister of mine ended her life 3 days later on January 22nd. Not knowing, I texted her on Monday January 25th. She didn't respond, and I didn't think much of it - it wasn't unusual for her not to reply right away. I found out she died on Thursday, January 28th - almost a week later - when I opened Facebook. I saw her mom had friended me and went to her wall. There, my friend’s beautiful smile stared at me from her obituary.
So, you may be wondering - why did I name this post "How am I lucky? Let me count the ways..." (Yes, the title is a hat tip to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a great poet that was the topic of one of my high school term papers. Also, I'm pretty sure my dad once wrote out her poem "How do I love thee?" in a love note to my mom. Ah, sweet, young, romantic love!)
Well, the truth is that I have been extremely lucky and I count the ways every day. I am lucky that my dad was diagnosed pre-lockdown so that he started treatments in a timely fashion. He was already well into his treatment plan when lockdowns started. Thank god. Many people were not so lucky.
I am lucky that our parenting journey uniquely prepared us to love, accept and support Carter in his unusual developmental path. The week of lockdowns was supposed to be his first in a program specifically for Autistic kids. He never started that program. I am lucky that I did not depend on it for sanity and support. Many families were not so lucky.
When lockdowns hit, our family was able to hunker down at home easily- we were used to it! The kids and I have been together every day for their whole lives, so nothing new there. Our big kids are the best of friends and we unschool so we had no added stress to our lives. Many kids were not so lucky.
When my friend cut me off, she gave me a gift and I am very grateful. Now I am lucky enough to have a deep understanding that it is ALWAYS best to be 100% myself. Those who stick by me when I do that, are true friends. I am so lucky that this confidence led me to find so many amazing new friends. Many women are not so lucky.
When my grandfather went into the hospital we were extremely lucky that my sister-in- law worked in the hospital where he was, and she checked in on him for us often. We were able to FaceTime with him and have someone in there looking out for him and facilitating communication. I was lucky enough to have many phone conversations with my grandfather and I got creative - singing and playing my guitar for him, reading to him, describing to him the foods he would be able to eat when he got out of the hospital (oh, how he loved that!) Many elderly people were not so lucky.
I am lucky that my husband and I have been on the same page throughout this whole rollercoaster ride. I am lucky that we explored many different ideas together about where we want to go with our family. I am lucky that he can work from home. I am lucky that our house easily rented when we decided to move to Florida. Many couples were not so lucky.
I am lucky that my grandfather did get out of the hospital in the summer and had more time to make memories with his family. He played golf only a couple of months before he died at the ripe age of 96! What a life he had! I am so grateful my mom was by his side when he passed. Many daughters were not so lucky.
I am so lucky to have spent the winter basking in the Florida sun and spending as much time as possible with my parents - soaking up the time my kids got together with their grandparents. Many grandchildren were not so lucky.
As for my soul-sister? I am beyond blessed to have known her and had her spirit touch my life. I am lucky that I was surrounded by love as I grieved her death. I am lucky for all the lessons I learned from her - especially one of her parting gifts, a beautiful philosophy of how I want to live my life. I am so lucky to be following this lesson the best I can and how powerfully it is impacting my life. Many souls are not so lucky.
Yes, life has been extremely challenging for the past year and a half. But all I can see looking back is just how lucky I am.
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.