A Pandemic Birthday …

It was my birthday last Friday (April 10, not April 17). Honestly, I’m not much for birthdays, in general. I love to remember and celebrate my husband’s birthday and my daughter’s birthday. But I have never gotten all that excited about my own birthday. I believe I have mentioned this before. I have probably mentioned it once a year in here — you know, in connection with other birthdays. I didn’t go back to check, but it seems like the kind of thing I would say. It seems like the kind of thing I would feel obligated to say, in a way. I mean, most people love their birthdays. I’ve always felt kind of weird and out of step in this regard.

This year, it was a strange birthday. Even for me. I always like a quiet celebration with just my little family. And, of course, we had a very quiet celebration this year, since we are all still social isolating. Or quarantining. Or social distancing. Or … whatever you want to call it. My husband sent me a beautiful bouquet of roses. We took a walk together as a family. I FaceTimed with my parents, who were supposed to be visiting us for my birthday but, of course, couldn’t. My daughter waited on me hand and foot for the entire day. We had ice cream sundaes and take-out from a couple of places I particularly like in our new town. And we watched two movies together. All in all, it was a lovely, sweet day. In so many ways, it was perfect. I think I will have warm memories from it for many years to come.

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As I went to bed that night, it hit me that the day had felt entirely normal. For once, I didn’t think about COVID-19. We didn’t watch the news or read reports about new cases in our county and state. We didn’t scour the internet in search of toilet paper and paper towels. My husband and I didn’t talk about how likely it would be that this virus would come back with a vengeance once we all start socializing again. I didn’t sit and think about how weird and different and uncertain everything feels. We laughed and ate and enjoyed ourselves. We told silly stories and jokes. My daughter and I sang along to all the songs in Moana.

Now that I think back on it, I feel it might have been the very best of birthdays. Over the last few months, life has devolved into something I don’t quite recognize and don’t quite understand. Or, maybe it’s more that I don’t want to understand it. Or, let’s be honest: it’s probably that I want to deny any of it is happening. Even as I wear a mask and gloves on my infrequent trips to the grocery store and disinfect every item that comes into my house and studiously maintain at least 6 feet of distance between myself and others when out in public and avoid walking on favorite paths and trails for fear they will be too crowded and wash all my clothing in hot water — just in case … And on and on. Even as I obsessively perform these new and slightly exhausting daily behaviors, there is a part of my brain that wants to sing, “Lalalalala … None of this is real!”

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And yet, it is real. And it grows more terrifying by the day. I am afraid for my husband, who is high risk. I am afraid for my daughter, who still has her life in front of her. I am afraid for my elderly parents. I am afraid for friends that I love and who live in areas with a greater number of cases than my own town and county. I pray for strength and faith. But, inside, I am still afraid.

And so, a day of “normal”, even if it feels somewhat bittersweet in retrospect, was exactly what I needed. It was a day to pause and take a deep breath. It was a day to remember how lovely life is. It was a day to remember in the best of ways.

It was a good birthday.

2 thoughts on “A Pandemic Birthday …

    • Yes! That’s the perfect word for it: ODD. Like, it’s not terrible or anything. But everything just feels so weird right now. Happy belated anniversary to you! I’m glad you guys were able to have some celebration, even if it was a quiet one. Thanks for the b-day wishes, too! =)

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