Freedom

How do I engage with inner freedom that is stable, independent of outer circumstances?

Outwardly, my life in the care center is shifting. Now we can rejoin the larger community and though we are all vaccinated, we from the care center must wear masks at all times, and stay distanced. To sit outside in the sun chatting with a friend, looking out on the pond in front of the main entry to Kendal, with no one to time me, or escort me, was like being on vacation. I relaxed in ways I hadn’t known I was missing. It has been very nourishing.

What is freedom? I wouldn’t recognize this gift if I didn’t already know it deep inside. Gratitude for the slow reintegration with other Kendal residents is blooming with the tulips.

Though still masked and distanced, I am reveling in new-found freedoms. leaving the care center to see the campus, friends, and community gathering areas once again.

Molting Goldfinch

I am shedding

my olive drab winter feathers

growing new ones of

aconite, forsythia, crocus, daffodil yellow

glinting in the spring sunshine

I dominate the bird feeder

propagate my species

crack open my sunflower seeds

while she delights in watching me

her seeds from a package

on top of her morning oatmeal

She is also molting

shedding gray prohibitions

of a pandemic

and growing new feathers

of golden hope

in trust for her species

I write from Ohio and am not sitting beside Lake Erie, but my body knows the waves.

Sitting on the Shore

4/7/21

Yesterday in the high wind

thoughts rose up

rising from the surf

of a thousand white stallions

crashing down on the shore

their flashing hooves

disappearing into sand

the foam sizzling away

only to arise and return

over and over again

Today my feelings are at low tide

the gentle slap and sigh

slap and sigh

lulled by waves

that come and go

to and fro

freely within

the greater body 

Sitting still

I gaze

beyond the horizon

from east to west

sitting still

what remains

beyond rocks that spawn each earthy grain of sand

beyond drops of all the rippling waters, salted and fresh

beyond photons of light radiating from our star’s fire

beyond molecules of oxygen blending into outer space

Sitting firm and utterly still

breathing in and out

freely like waves

within the greater body

Judi Bachrach

Flight

Diary 3/22/21

I have been a grouchy bear this week. I felt the spring call to emerge from my cave as usual but- the assisted living cave administrators are still bound to impose muzzling face masks, fenced in the enclosed garden, and no interactions with other any of the other bears in their independent living caves even though we have all been vaccinated. The rising sap has irritated me in ways I did not anticipate.

As I look towards July 4th weekend, which Biden bids us to hopefully celebrate as close to normal as possible, it reminds me that date will mark the start of my third year at Kendal. The continued restrictions confine my memories and my heart hurts. The arrival of spring used to mark lambing season for our flock of 23 Icelandic sheep, the transformation of fluffy peeping chicks into feathered hens, the yearly care for our horses, the careful transplanting of indoor seedlings and direct seeding of flowers and vegetables into the garden each according to their own temperature needs.

That connection to the seasons regarding working the earth and tending to animals under our care is gone. And truthfully, my own body was failing way before I moved preventing me from my attending to the active life of a homesteader. I was not aware of how much it all grounded and nourished me until this spring. My childhood and most of my adult life with Richard all happened in the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. The Catskills are ancient rounded mountains. The energy there stood firm beneath my feet and was slow, measured, and weighted with a deep gravitas that rose up through the forests as they also embodied the seasonal changes of the northeast. Northeast Ohio has a very different feel altogether.

Kenda was built mostly on wetlands requiring the creation of seven different ponds. Settlers coming to what is now Cleveland, died by the droves of malaria. This is a wet claylike area south and west of Lake Erie with a lot of sandstone in various counties. The local wildlife no longer offers emerging black bears looking to raid our garbage deli for their spring hunger, nor are there wild turkeys scrabbling their scant nests to lay their eggs helter-skelter beneath some hemlock tree, or coyotes or foxes drooling for chickens- but there are a few deer, bunnies, muskrats, chipmunks, squirrels and a large variety of birds. Geese and ducks on the ponds, including a brief touchdown of trumpeter swans last week, complete the list and l have heard of the troublesome raccoons and skunks from those living in cottages around the far end of campus.

I have not yet had the opportunity to get around the campus (see grouchy bear above) and can only hope the new Covid19 mandates will loosen up our restrictions by the summer. Meanwhile the sun resurrects emerging growth everywhere as Eastertide approaches.

Hallelujah.

Diary 3/24/21

I am glad I waited to post the above. Today the amendments to our Ohio nursing home mandates arrived in full- in two weeks we will be allowed to leave the Care Center hallways- masked and distanced in the presence of our independent living residents- but we can go down to the central meeting area of Kendal to meet friends there. Best of all, we can be free of our own caves and venture out onto the entire campus to meet friends anywhere outdoors as well. My grouchy bear is rumbling with pleasure and anticipation. Visiting with my family will still be a timed, well sanitized, bureaucratic affair, with lots of paperwork for the staff to be able to track possible infectious problems and my daughter and grandson will be escorted to and from my room or even to outdoor assigned areas- but if the trend of less illness and hospitalizations continue all around us, eventually this, too, shall pass.

Sounds of Flight

The flight paths

are noisy again

birds returned to summer here

they weave a hammock of sound

that rocks me

before sunrise

air friction of larger manmade wings

have bested Covid withdrawal

to tear through the sky

ripping away away away

free to come and go

I prefer the bird sounds

but then again

nested on the ground

I am not yet

ready to fly

Seasons

In northeast Ohio, the days are lengthening, the ground is warming and birds are returning. The nights are still chilly and a cloudy day sets us back into warm jackets, but spring is springing forward a little bit more every day. There is comfort in this cycle. No spring is ever the same, and more often than not these days, there is even less certainty about the weather patterns and timing we have been accustomed to. The perfect spring day is a mirage that lies within dark, wet, muddy days, snow filled tulips, and then a miraculous day inviting outdoor games and picnics with the scent of flower and tree buds unfurling above and below.

I sat outside in the enclosed courtyard garden and melted with the snow as it watered the green leaves poking up from all the bulbs planted last year. When no one joined me there, I could take of my face mask and breathe the unencumbered freedom of fresh air. I live in a section of Kendal where we are still under nursing home mandates and are restricted to to stay masked inside our hallways and the courtyard. I am now allowed a one half hour visit with my daughter in another building in a room divided with a plexiglass wall between us, masked and throughly sanitized before and after the visit. Today my daughter arrived after a day of teaching on campus at the college which is a few minutes away.

We felt we covered a lot of ground talking together, free ranging our adult topics while Max is at his nanny share. On Saturday, he is allowed to come unmasked as a first thing in the morning visitor but is not supposed to touch everything in the bare room on his side of the clear wall. It is an experiment given that they have a forty-five minute drive to and from home just to see me. I have lined up a lot of songs to sing, some paper and markers to make stick figure illustrations to show him as I sing, and we’ll see how he does. I will plan to go stay with her family again when her semester is over. Other residents on the larger campus will have shorter quarantines after their away from Kendal visits, taking a Covid test, etc. but the two week safety zone is still a requirement for me. All worth waiting for as spring evolves around me.

A silly song I wrote for Max given his four favorite things to vocalize this week:

Max’s Song at 15 months

Max wants to fly like an airplane

He wants to fly up so high

Higher than bees

the birds up in the trees

Higher than clouds in the sky

Vroom vroom vroom

Max wants to play with a lion

And maybe a tiger or two

The big cats will roar

And Max will roar more

They’ll all take a nap when they’re through

Roar roar roar (snore snore snore)

Max wants to play with a doggie

The doggie will chase his red ball

She’ll bark and she’ll bark

All over the park

But she’ll always come back when Max calls

Bark bark bark

Max wants to swim with the fishes

He’ll sit in the water and play

The fish go *smack smack

And he’ll go smack smack

Say bye-bye at the end of the day

(*Fish sounds) smack smack smack

And this from pondering in the courtyard:

As Long as we Both Shall Live

March 1, 2021   

The sun and I lean in for a closer embrace

in this part of me

ice is melting

beneath my clothing

small green shoots are tickling upwards

birdsong layers my soundscape

warmth spreads

deepening

reaching even the hearts

of those suffering blindness

the loss of Love’s evanescence

Into the dark and frightened child

the starving greedy needs

of those in power

and those with none

the violent and violated

those who harm

and those in harmony

with my disappearing landscapes

all those who dwell there

pillaged and stuffed with waste

my clogged veins and arteries

muffling the heartbeat of Love

Still, we lean towards one another

the sun and I

this beneficent cycle

as we have done for millennium 

the dead make room for the living

the living make room for the dead

seasons of silence, seasons of song

as long as I live

for as long as we both shall live

we are inherent rhythms of Love

Judi Bachrach

Third Death Anniversary

Third Anniversary of Your Death- 2/14/21

Today our two daughters and I

will lift our ice cream spoons to you

on zoom.





You loved ice cream since we first met.

As teenagers, we broke our meager banks

to eat the best ice cream that we could find.





Your favorite flavor always?

Mint chocolate chip.

When we were vegans

coconut milk ice cream would do

but frozen dairy delight was still the best.





In later years, now mostly vegetarians,

you discovered the perfect gelato-

sharp creamy mint studded with

a galaxy of tiny chocolate chips.





Three days before you died

you had an unconscious undressed rehearsal

with spiked fever, and labored breathing.





I was telling our next shift helper

how you had emerged from the danger zone.

You said, quite clearly, with humor in your voice,

“Is there an ice cream zone?”

Of course, there was and

one of the last foods you ate.





At your memorial service we served

hundreds of people ice cream and sorbet.





Today we remember your sweet love

your galaxy of human gifts

melting ever deeper into our hearts.

Intermingling grief and nostalgia catch me unawares. The sound of the snowplow outside of my room at Kendal brought tears to my eyes last week. For years and years every winter, you listened to the all-weather radio station eventually spoken by a stilted digital voice. Expertly plowing the driveway, and in some years, the entire dirt road we shared with our neighbors, was a point of pride and hard work. Our therapy clients made it safely to our house, the next day’s freezing rain hit dirt, not compacted snow, and your damp padded jumpsuit hung out to dry over the closet door, revealing the neatly dressed professional beneath ready for very different work after downing a cup of hot coffee.

Maybe it’s the glance at your picture sitting on my night table- the one that our Dutch friend took of you standing on Mt. Blanc when we visited her and her husband for their twenty-fifth anniversary. Your warm eyes look directly into mine. The half-smile is enough to send shivers of physical loss inside my heart. Empathy, clarity, and fiercely loyal dedication to all you encountered shines through the glass frame. Above that, are all of the early photos of our baby grandson who you had not met in this life. I look at his little round face and sparkling eyes, and I cannot help but see you as well. There is surely a through-line there and I don’t mean just DNA.

Other times I am reluctant to use the last of the dental floss that came in a box of a million (OK maybe only 25) that you had ordered before you died. Or sitting on the chairs in my room that once were in your Manhattan office, I wonder, “Was this the client’s chair or yours?”  I think maybe I should be able to tell the difference, to feel the hours of loving counsel you gave to so many others besides your family.

You are everywhere- in a song, a meal, a landscape, a breath- in the absolute stillness when I meditate; the tangible empty solidity of creation holds us closer than close.

The poet Hafiz has a line in one of his poems: “Love is simply creation’s greatest joy.”

Paying Attention

Diary 2/8/21

January was a tumultuous month for all of us, roiling through anxiety, disgust, sorrow, and glimmers of relief with hope against hope underlying everything. I wrote often but nothing seemed to capture more than a snapshot before the next event swept in. This song emerged last month which becomes relevant as the second impeachment trial dawns.

Healing America’s Trust

Chorus:

I need a healing of my heart

healing of my heart

healing of my heart

as I start to trust again

I need a healing of my heart

healing of my heart

healing of my heart

as I start

I knew from the beginning

that the man was just a sham

he wanted us to follow

like a wolf or like a lamb

He tried to crush what we believe in

there’s so much to answer for

only now we can begin to heal our grieving

Chorus:

America will recover

from its terrible mistakes

we will endure and do the work

however long it takes

His shadow is a dark one

but his sun is fading fast

his power will soon wither

and its’ grip can never last

Chorus:

The deaths that happened on his watch

will weigh his memory down

his cruelty and lies

touched every city, every town

America was never his

to hold under a thrall

instead, we choose democracy for all

Chorus:

I need a healing of my heart

healing of my heart

healing of my heart

as I start to trust again

I need a healing of my heart

healing of my heart

healing of my heart

as I start

Segway: To the tune of America the Beautiful

The words they wrote

So long ago

Now let us make them real

Freedom and equality

Are more than some ideal

America, America

We place our trust in you

And crown your good

with brotherhood

to make those words come true

February will continue to bring major weather systems for our political, internal, and external viewing endurance. And still our private dramas are played out against these scenarios. My grandson thrives at 13 months, my body inexplicably seems to be in a new recovery mode of muscles and endurance, and Kendal at large continues to be blessed with cooperative residents and staff with most everybody vaccinated and fewer and fewer cases of Covid detected in the twice-weekly testing for residents in my area of the Care Center (no cases detected) and all staff (still a few of whom are sent home to quarantine in each cadence). Disinformation affects some staff and vendors- this is Ohio- but for the most part, everyone is vigilant, proactive, and weary but willing.

I find my spiritual practices strengthening along with my body muscles. I am more grounded, and more able to take space from riding the dramatic roller coasters of my world. I wrote this first thing this morning.

Paying Attention to Breath

2/8/21

From the first mewling breath

my daughter took

after her difficult passage to birth

Through the last crackling breath

my husband took

in his long passage to death

To every one of my approximately

16 inhales per minute

18,00 exhales per day

I find a miraculous beginning,

middle and end

autonomous yet

The connecting thread of my life

to your life

to all life

Pay attention to your breathing

my teachers have always said-

singing, archery, meditation, life

The awesome invisible order of the universe

is passing through us, is us

in and out

In and Out

New Year

2020-2021

Begin Again

The tick of a clock

the ring of a bell

the gasp and sigh of a ventilator

the mask on a face

zooming with colleagues

family and friends

listening breathing uncertainty

violence disbelief and fear

366 days to spin and slow dance

our way

around the sun

only to arrive

at where we may begin again

The plunge of vaccinating needles
the need to be whole
new ways to love and work
together in
bearing such loss
taking responsibility
picking up the joyful burden
listening breathing creation
belief in helping healing learning

366 days to spin and slow dance

our way

around the sun

only to arrive

at where we may begin

again

by Judi Bachrach

Winter Solstice

The Solstice is upon us. Here we have the shortest day and longest night, and in the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite. It is another opportunity to remember humility as we are such a small part of the cosmic dance. A time for reflection of changes and anticipation of a new more hopeful year. May we find our place of strength and wholeness.

I include the poems (the second one is a chant) that were used in the Winter Solstice program on Thursday night shown on our in-house TV channel. I was humbled to be a small part of an hour long sharing of Kendal residents who recited poetry, sang songs, played a piano, clarinet, viola trio, a harpsichord piece, clarinet duets, string ensembles, all on the theme of darkness into light conceived and narrated by our talented Master of Ceremonies. The audio visual man became a videographer, elegantly blending all of these prerecorded contributions into an elegant whole using Rebecca Cordozo’s nature slides as they emerged and faded while we listened,

Beauteous Dark

I crave the dark

my gaze slides inward

beneath the fluttering curtains of day

oceans of sound cease

to pour into my seashell ears

my powers of speech

lie nestled within my sheltering jaw

In that beauteous dark

my breath expands

a small sliver of a new moon

curves its way between my lips

I am

constant as the moon

appearing and disappearing

waxing and waning

silently reflecting the light

I draw SO CLOSE

That my gravity alone

changes the tides on Earth

In the Dark Before the Dawn

In the dark

before the dawn

when I’m wandering all alone

may I search for

may I find

a light to guide me home

hold to that light

through the long night

until my eyes

bless the sunrise

In the dark

before the dawn

when we’re wandering 

all alone

may we search for

may we find

a light to guide us home

hold to that light

through the long night

until our eyes

bless the sunrise

Morning After Winter Solstice

The silent dawn

may be draped in snow

sunstruck into crystalline radiance

leaving tracks of those who

walked

before us

If I could paint

I would brush the snow

a gray shade of lavender

beneath the trees

blue behind the buildings

gold in the clearing

If I could sing

I would give voice to arias

of slender winter birds

icing over the ponds

the cushioning crunch of snow

beneath my boots

If I could write as simply as the

four-leggeds

the muskrat journal would read,

“I slide down the bank into cold waters”

or in squirrel script,

“I leapt here onto the tree before you”

or in deer tongue,

“We grazed branch tips before moving

on”

I would paint and sing and write

I am here

I breathe

I smell

I see

I listen

I taste

I touch the dawn

Ah!

Cassandra Speaks

Photo of Snow in the Woods by Rebecca Cardozo

I have been busy writing songs here and there. I include this one even though it was unpleasant to write and even harder to sing among my friends. I was trying to get inside the head of people who are dying of the Corona virus but who disbelieve it even exists. These are my fellow Americans, and many are my neighbors here in Ohio. The melody is a waltz tempo and nothing memorable, but the words of the song insisted their way into writing, so here it is.

Ballad of Karalee by Judi Bachrach 11/12/20

Karalee has died and we’ll never know why.

The doctors and nurses they lied, and they lied

Said it wasn’t pneumonia or even the flu

They said it was Covid and that can’t be true

Ch: Karalee, oh Karalee

What they did was so wrong

One day we’ll stand together

Right where we belong

When she couldn’t breathe, I knew it was cancer

Just like my old man but they gave the wrong answer

Their machine wasn’t helping, they wouldn’t let me in

This country has failed us by God, it’s a sin

Ch:

I hate the blue liberals they lie every day

Now they cheated the one man who could make them all pay

It’s my right to be free, I’ll never wear a damn mask

I’ll fight for my rights it’s my God given task

Ch:

Karalee don’t you worry, don’t think they have won

This war is not over its barely begun

Me and our sons are still standing by

Won’t live under these cheaters we’d all rather die

Ch:

Well, I’m finished with crying it won’t help a damn

I’m tired of talking to whoever I can

I think I’ll lie down I’m so tired today

I wish all this coughing would just go away

Ch: Karalee, oh Karalee

What they did was so wrong

One day we’ll stand together

Right where we belong

To clear the air of my heartbreak while inviting my honest introspection of firmly held convictions that I hold sacred, I am offering a book that I recently read for your consideration.

Cassandra Speaks is a new book by Elizabeth Lesser. She is a well-known best-selling feminist and spiritual author. In full disclosure, she is also a friend and our paths have intertwined in many ways over the years. First as parents waiting for the school bus with our children, and later she included my story of living with MS and a child with ASD in a chapter of her book, Broken Open. She was there when my husband was in the last few days of his life, bringing a bouquet of tulips and a folder of beautiful classic poems on death. (She had recently lost her own sister to cancer which she documents in her book, Marrow: Love, Loss, and What Matters Most.) She has presented TED talks and is a leader and co-founder of the Omega Institute in upstate NY. She is one of Oprah’s top awakened 100 Soul Saver people in the world.

Her new book, subtitled, “When women are the storytellers the human history changes.”, is just as I know her to be- wise, clear, Inspiring and balanced. I was informed and moved by the way she frames the historical slant on disenfranchising women. She offers practical ways to evoke lasting change and challenged me to discover how I still inadvertently perpetuate stereotypical demands on both on myself and the men in my life. It is a refreshing and deeply needed discourse I recommend to all. I am gifting it to my daughter (not a secret, she knows) and women and men of all ages and stages in life will be moved by her beautiful words. It is an added personal gift to know her family as she references her own journey in understanding her place in the world.

Healing and hope accompany us into the new year. I am soon spending two weeks with my daughter’s family and I have only to think of my one-year-old grandson (even though at times he is as cranky as only a teething toddler can be) to know there is joy to be found in this troubled world. I will gladly return to Kendal for my two-week quarantine and who knows, living as I do in an assisted living facility, I may come home to my first Covid19 vaccination!

Giving Thanks

Diary 11/24/20

I was thinking about gratitude as I often do. This season especially requires a deeper look in the face of what we have lost. I am grateful that my family remains perfectly well despite one positive Covid test result among us that canceled our “safe as possible” gathering for the holidays. I have suggested to past clients that they keep a Gratitude Jar for the year, writing down each incident that stands out, storing them all to reread on January first. Or to write down at least one thing you are grateful for every day for a week or a month. It is a wonderful practice. If you are as good as I am at envisioning the worst, as if a ‘superstition of pessimism’ can control the future, then it is a practical way to reroute your focus to looking instead at all of the things you are fortunate to experience in your life.

I am reminded of my own revelation of the unexpected gratitude that poured into me after the gripping grief at my husband’s death. Living as I do in a continuing care retirement community, death will claim some of us over the course of a year. On Sunday, we had a beautifully prerecorded memorial for all seventeen people who had left us without the usual in-person caring circle of family and friends from both within and outside of Kendal. We would have listened, told stories, and shared time with children and grandchildren to honor each life that had departed. It has been a unique Kendal tradition since its founding.

Yesterday’s skilled collaboration of histories, photos, and music was a tribute to the gifted adaptation of a memorial service in these times. As one community leader said in the presentation, “We wish we had known of their amazing history before they died. But truthfully, we didn’t because we knew them as the amazing people they were as active members of Kendal, and not for who they were before they came.”

The gratitude that filled me after processing my initial grief as a widow, came when the focus shifted naturally to the abundant riches my husband and I had shared and the evident fruits of our long life together. Missing him and our family holiday events touch me today, but they do not take center stage. My personal list of gratitude notes from last week include:

Thanks for my family and new and old friends.

Thanks for the cyber connections that have blossomed during our separations, including taking classes I could otherwise not have physically attended.

Thanks for the fact that I am not struggling for my daily survival as millions do but have the luxury of seeing my life and spiritual practice as one.

There are so many ways to show my gratitude and I have the rest of my life to do so.

Grief and Gratitude

Grief and Gratitude walked hand in hand

between the sand dunes

down to the beach

The sun just above the horizon

the sea was calm

the tide was slowly rising

They passed a young couple

and caught waves of

Gratitude for their new love

blind as yet to Grief

new rays glowing in their eyes

The wet packed sand

firm beneath their soles

leading them on and on

past so many human

pleasures and pains

the heat of our star

upon their heads

cool waters

washing over and over their feet

A thoughtful mother watched

her younger daughter squeal in outraged Grief

when the highest wave flooded

her sandy creation

the older brother smirking on higher ground

anticipating relentless change

the mother hoping

they would also come to know Gratitude

for this interlude of pleasure

and sleep on the way back

her husband packing up the car

for their inevitable sad return

Grief and Gratitude walked on and on

turned to face the setting sun

skirting rocks and seaweed

gulls watching from above

breezes carrying the day into night

A white-haired man, sitting alone

reaching for the last of his six-pack

the bitter taste of Grief and rage

alone without her for the rest of his life

he could not see Gratitude

the sunset glaring in his eyes

Grief and Gratitude

always linked

in silent embrace

resting on the shores of Home

walking with us

all of our days and nights

11/24/20 Judi Bachrach

Plan

Diary 11/19/20

Plan: Derived from the noun Plan in Old French meaning diagram or drawing as for a garden or building. That was likely derived from the Latin adjective Planus meaning a flat, even plane.

Most of the time we are consciously or unconsciously busy making plans. What am I doing today? What am I wearing? What am I eating? Who am I interacting with? What am I doing on the weekend? We have impulses, desires, and thoughts, and then take step by step actions to bring our plans to fruition. We start with an even plane and build on top of that.

We are not used to considering that even the simplest of our plans now must be seen as a potential life or death issue. What we used to do has become interwoven with a new reality of the silent, invisible, and potentially deadly virus that is wreaking havoc on our lives. Where we got our food, where we used to buy our shoes, who cares for our children, who we used to hang out and work with, and how and where we found our relaxation and pleasures have all been charged with being directly responsible to our own health and that of others. Our planning skills are being tested over and over as the small daily decisions we make may mean having to trust others or having them trust us in order to be safe.

My family made plans to be together for Thanksgiving and for my older daughter’s baby celebrating his first birthday (and our other birthdays past and present). It seemed very safe for us even coming from three different living spaces. The Care Center where I live is constantly monitored (I just got tested for Covid for the second time in a week) and is very well protected. My older daughter and her family have been hyper vigilant since the beginning of the pandemic and were planning to be in quarantine for 2 weeks prior to driving to pick up my younger daughter in New York State, who was also in quarantine for the event. The travelers had safe houses to stay in for the long drive, would bring their own food, and had safe rest stop measures. Massive planning was coordinated to ensure we would all be as safe as possible.

Although my older daughter is not teaching this semester at Oberlin College, she regularly went into their clinic to get tested for the virus anyway. To her shock, the test she took last week came back positive for Covid! She thought of all her precautions and wondered, how was this even possible? Added to the confusion was the fact she felt fine as did my son-in-law and the baby. She realized it likely happened more than a week ago during a socially distanced and masked connection with another mother when they let their babies interact as babies do. Probably that baby passed it to my grandson who then passed it on to my daughter. Neither family shows any symptoms ten days out from the likely exposure. That is the good news. Thank goodness she had the forethought to take the test.

But- there went The Plan. Like millions of others, we obviously scotched the gathering. We always had the caveat of “it may not work out if Ohio and New York state shut down because of increased cases” but we were thinking of that coming from the outside, not from within our own carefully vigilant ranks. Letting the plan dissolve was a disappointment to us (well, not to the baby). We likely may try to gather again this spring when my daughter is finished teaching the next semester, and the warmer weather means greater outdoor connectivity.

Teaching all Americans to take on the responsibility of life and death planning is a big step, one which millions have been actively discouraged and bullied from even considering. We must go back to a flat, even plane to construct a safe life from there. In order to grapple successfully with the real promise of vaccines and more accessible and accurate testing, our nation is being asked to grow up as soon as possible. It is already too late for hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens. Somehow, we must come together to make a new plan. May we teach and be taught.