"Coronalone". It's like "Home Alone", but without Macaulay Culkin. And without the burglars (we hope). It's our ridiculous name for the surreal and strange circumstances in which we currently find ourselves.
And we currently find ourselves realizing that eventually, when it feels right to do so, these blog posts will, by necessity, have to turn once again to topics other than our recent loss. It’s just that so far, it hasn’t felt right. The loss still feels too great, too all-consuming.
We also find ourselves feeling even more “Coronalone”— “alone-er”, if you will— in the wake of that recent loss, and in the wake of a necessary-but-painful renewed vigilance about having contact with others. We find ourselves only a couple of weeks from the first of the major holidays of the season, grieving not only the loss of a loved one but also the loss of normalcy and the fact that we will not be gathering for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year.
In a way, it feels almost fitting not to be getting together. It’s hard to explain, but it’s similar to our reaction when the Sandwich Fair didn’t happen the weekend after Devin’s passing. Sure, it was cancelled because of Covid and not because Devin was gone, but the two events seemed to become conflated in our minds, and we all had an oddly similar reaction: “Well, if she can’t be there, then maybe it feels right that there just isn’t a Fair at all this year”, we commented to one another.
There is going to be a sadness and an emptiness in our holidays this year no matter what. Not getting together because of the pandemic is just a blip compared to that, since we know that it is vital so that we can make sure that— when we are finally able to gather again— hopefully no one else will be missing… or at the very least, our actions won’t be the reason someone is. It’s the best we can do, at the moment.
We spent time with Bill and other family members after Devin’s service. In pretty close quarters. We admit to having let our guard down for at least a week or two, going into one another’s houses and doing what was necessary to be supportive in the wake of a tragedy. But no more. Numbers are rising, we are hearing reports of friends testing positive for the virus, and too many of our family members are high-risk to ignore the warnings. I’m not sure any of us can bear another loss, and certainly not one that might be preventable. So we will have to find a way to honor Devin’s memory and to mark the upcoming holidays without the physical closeness we wish were possible. A few ideas for how to do so have formulated in my mind, usually at about 3:00 am when I can’t sleep and I'm staring at the ceiling and my brain decides it’s the perfect time to work on everything currently weighing on my mind... including things I didn't even realize were on my radar until they showed up at 3:00 am (um... thanks, Brain):
I’m planning to make some Thanksgiving and Christmas goodies for family members— items that can be easily delivered via “no-contact drop-offs”, ready to be heated up and enjoyed at their leisure— in lieu of sitting down to a meal with them as we would normally do. Ingredients will be procured using no-contact grocery pick-ups and meticulously combined to make holiday-themed, edible expressions of our love. It won't be difficult, because we sort of already know the drill. We had been doing distanced drop-offs and pick-ups at Bill & Devin’s for months already, since the early days of the pandemic, and we had a pretty good system whereby we would leave items on a table or chair just inside their open garage door, with us outside and them all the way inside the garage, distanced far more than the requisite 6 feet but still within hearing distance, so that we could safely say hello and catch up with each other at each visit. We will return to this system now, because we know it is the safest thing to do. Doing what we can to protect each other is the best way I know to show our love right now.
We won’t do our usual Christmas cookie delivery rounds this year, but there may be a couple of local friends who will see “drive-by cookie-ings” which will result in goodie bags being left on doorsteps. It’s not our usual routine, but I think we’re all going to have to get a little creative with how we show our holiday spirit this year. If you have family members or friends outside of your immediate quarantine circle who might need someone to bring them Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, I hope you will consider delivering it from a distance, too, so that there will be minimal chance of delivering the virus along with it.
I also have plans to make an advent calendar for Devin’s immediate family to open each day during this Christmas season. It’s going to be a sad time no matter what, but I thought it would be nice if they could do something each day as a way to keep her memory, to keep her included in the season in some way. Behind each door will be a photo of their little family from a past Christmas, to be removed and placed in a mini photo album that I’ll deliver along with the calendar, so that by the end of advent they will have a little album full of memories that can be taken out each Christmas. If you know someone who has lost a loved one this year, reach out to them in whatever way feels right, and safe, for both of you. It's going to be a particularly rough holiday season for those who are grieving the loss of someone they love in the midst of this pandemic. Perhaps some sort of keepsake or memento (dropped off without contact, of course) could be a way to honor their loved one’s memory and express your support and love for the person grieving the loss. Trust your heart. It will tell you the right way to be supportive.
Most importantly, I’m going to do my best to keep in contact with family and friends over the phone, over Zoom, over Facebook chat, over whatever platform is easiest for each of them. It is so true that we need to hear each other’s voices and see each other’s faces; we just need to do it in a way that keeps as many people safe as we possibly can. Let’s love each other from a distance, letting that distance be a symbol of our compassion and concern for one another, so that our future gatherings will be all the more sweet because those of us who are still here now will, God willing, all be there to attend them.