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“Want to go for a bike ride for coffee?” I ask.


I put on my gloves and helmet and wait for my son Brendan to join me in the garage. A long bike ride is now part of my daily routine, and I love it when there is an actual destination instead of a loop. And I’m thrilled that Brendan is visiting from LA.

Brendan climbs on Tim’s bike and follows me down Lake Shore Drive along Lake Michigan through Duneland Beach, Shoreland Hills, Long Beach and Sheridan Beach. When we reach Washington Park, Brendan shouts from behind, “Mom, where are we going?”

“For coffee,” I yell back.

I park my bike at the picnic tables outside of Base Camp, a little shack designed to provide sandwiches, sunscreen and treats for the Michigan City Harbor boaters.

Brendan pulls up and exclaims, “How far did we ride?!”

“About six miles.”

“What?! Six miles!” I just nod and think what’s the big deal, and he says, “I’ll have an espresso.”

“They don’t have espresso.”

“What do you mean they don’t have espresso?! I thought you said we were riding to a coffee shop.”

“I never said we were riding to a coffee shop. I said we were riding to get coffee.”

His look is indescribable.

I ask, “Do you take cream?”


I put on my mask, go inside, get two coffees from the pump canteen, and exit merrily. It is a beautiful day. 

I hand the basic, no-frills coffee to Brendan. He says, “We rode six miles to get plain coffee? Twelve miles round trip?”

I nod. I marvel at how differently we live, and I take in the beautiful view. I say, “I love it here. It reminds me of Dingle in County Kerry, Ireland.”

He glances over my shoulder at a monolithic coal power plant and gives me a worried look.

“You can keep Santa Monica, Brendan. I think this is the best.”

Later, I tell my son Kevin this story. Kevin asks, “Don’t you have coffee at the house?”

We are Leaders of Peace

Where are our Nelson Mandela’s, Desmond Tutu’s, and Martin Luther King, Jr’s? Where are their voices? Where is peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness in our country and in our families? Our brilliant church leaders – those who truly inspire – are limited in their ability to gather communities because of social distancing. Uncertainty prevails in almost every aspect of our lives. 

Our nation is experiencing a great divide. Brothers and sisters warn that politics are not welcome at the Thanksgiving table or the Christmas gathering. This has been going on for years in the United States. Don’t talk about things that matter, so we don’t have to discuss our differences. Instead, let’s talk recipes, sports (in the good old days), traffic and weather. That way, we won’t have to worry about a brawl at the kitchen table or a door slamming exit.  

Then COVID-19 hits, and families reconnect to check on loved ones. Are you safe? Do you have what you need? Are you able to get groceries and toilet paper? We had six weeks of checking in, and we became restless. The economy suffers, unemployment skyrockets, businesses close, restaurants struggle to survive with curb-side pick-up. People request cocktail take-outs. Liquor store sales sour, and bicycle shops sell out. 

A new gap slips in – to wear a mask or not wear a mask. Families check on each other to see where they have been. You traveled? Did you quarantine for fourteen days? You went to a retail store? Did you really need that item? It becomes a badge of honor if you don’t go out. I brag that I have not been to a grocery store in over ten weeks. Are you proud of me? Am I a good American? But I share a bed with someone who goes to work. I slip in esteem. 

Next, George Floyd’s death deepens wounds and ignites unrest exacerbated by the Coronavirus. Now the disparity between families is about to protest or not protest, to argue about looters vs peaceful protesters, to disagree about the value of the local police force, to fight about inequality, racial disparity, and gun control, to quote statistics that support one-sided arguments – whatever side you’re on. Your selected media will support whatever you believe and convince you that the opposition is dead wrong. 

I’m worried. I’m worried about how lost we are in disagreement, separation, racism, and fear. We need to talk about our disagreements in order to grow in understanding each others’ perspectives. We listen, and we can agree to disagree. Vehement arguing and harboring the “you’re dead to me” mentality is destructive. It can be nearly as painful as death. Believe me, I know. 

The Prayer of St. Francis is all about praying to be instruments of peace. We all have that capacity. We all have the ability to act with kindness, to listen, to heal each other. We need dialogue, and we need safe places to have it. It starts in our homes and ripples outward. In order to feel safe, we have to trust that we are loved – unconditionally. 

I ask where are the peaceful leaders? They are right within us along with the goodness of God. The world may seem to dwell in darkness right now, but we as individuals can help shed Light.  Reconciliation starts in our hearts and is fueled by love. Dialogue is needed for peace. Please listen to each other. Please don’t shut each other out. Please do what you can in your piece of this beautiful universe to make a difference in the lives of those you are blessed to touch. 


Remember that feeling? Anticipation. Remember the 1971 Carly Simon song? “Anticipation. Anticipa-a-tion is makin’ me late is keepin’ me wai-ai-ai-ai -aiting.” 

Remember the Heinz ketchup commercial? 

My calendar is empty, except for some virtual meetings and walks with friends here and there. I hurt my ankle – again – and even those scheduled strolls are on hold. 

I’m on hold, but I’m not on hold. I witness the brightening of this amazingly green morning in the misty rain. After the rain, I anticipate the sun. Yesterday, buds opened right before my eyes. I wonder if this is how it will be with the calendar – slowly things will appear. Slowly life will be in full bloom again. 

But life is in full bloom right now. There is no waiting for life. 

People say 

  • I can’t wait til I can go to a restaurant again.
  • I can’t wait till I can go to a ballgame – any type of ballgame.
  • I can’t wait til I can hear a band play.
  • I can’t wait to go to a bar. 
  • I can’t wait to dance at a party. (I miss dancing!)

Anticipation. With the ketchup bottle, you can see the red paste making its way to the plate. I can’t see anything making its way to my calendar. 

My friend Ann now lives in Arizona, and today she emailed that she doesn’t know when she will be home again. 

My mom lives in a nursing home. She is 93, and I don’t know when I will see her again.

My grandchildren live in Milwaukee, and I don’t know when I will hug them again. 

We wait. But where is the excitement of anticipation? We have two friends whose daughters are getting married this summer. Will they happen? I’m not frustrated with not knowing – I’m just waiting.  

When things are cancelled, I am fine. I accept. I’m not mad or angry – just meekly disappointed. We expect to celebrate benchmarks. Where did these expectations come from?

I think about the desolate, yet spectacular, Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland, where three of Tim and my grandparents are from. Or the west coasts of County Clare and Mayo where the other five were born. What was life like for them only a few generations ago? I don’t think they hosted big shindigs to celebrate birthdays, weddings, retirement and anniversaries. Entire towns had less people that a few city blocks in Chicago. 

I’ve missed so many funerals. Yesterday, I mailed four sympathy cards. Misericordia in Chicago is hearing a lot from me lately as I request prayers for friends’ loved ones. I’ve participated in two funeral masses via lifestream. Churches are sparsely populated. Have we simply returned to what was?

Today Tim’s coworker emailed and apologized that he and his fiance must limit their June wedding guest list to close family. How awkward for this wonderful, young man to have to uninvite us. His love for his fiance is all that matters. We will toast him from our home on June 13th, and that is enough. We will celebrate their commitment in our hearts – without the hoopla. 

Have we – in our quest to create lasting memories – embellished miracles like lifelong commitments and life everlasting into major events and somehow muffled the beautiful essence of what is? Love. 

As a lover of hoopla, it is strange how I accept cancellations. I understand. And I wait. And in the meantime, I do my best to bloom. 

Where are you – really?

This COVID-19 journey has been quite a ride. I’ve ventured into unchartered territory as I explore new ways of being, feeling fulfilled, observing, learning, and connecting. Even the way I navigate through the internet has changed as I seek reliable, unbiased sources of information and updates on the virus. I’m wondering how I can serve this world from my place of social distancing. I’m feeling inadequate as I isolate myself, yet I know this is what I need to do. 

Throughout it all, I pray. And sometimes my prayers ring true, deep, intense. Sometimes they are pretty shallow – just rote words instead of authentic conversations with God.

Similarly, sometimes I experience real connection through virtual meetings, and sometimes I feel like others aren’t really there. I see their eyes wandering on their screens, or I hear their fingers on the keyboard exposing the pretense of listening. I’ve seen meeting chat boxes on fire with comments, questions, jokes, and asides. I wonder how people type and pay attention. I see people reading the chat and laughing. How does that work if you are really present for the meeting?

Then I think, maybe I’m like that with God. I’ll say some prayers while I’m doing something else. The prayers help pass the time or strangely, give me something else to do. I’m not sure if I’m really communicating or just rattling off a bunch of Our Fathers or Hail Mary’s.  

I have a dear friend who recently shared that she counts steps when she climbs stairs. I marveled because I thought it was just me. I figured it originated with my efforts to teach my kids to count. I’d hold a toddler’s hand and count one, two, three, four. Maybe having five kids solidified this habit, but I know how many steps there are to my office. I count them all the time, and I count them when I climb two at a time. I count to get the steps over with, but I don’t know where I am when I am counting. It is almost like I am in some sort of limbo, a place between.   

Stay with me here. I think sometimes I pray rote prayers to pass time – almost like a mantra to tick away minutes – like when I’m sorting laundry, pulling weeds, and back in the day, running long miles. I know that during the last miles of a marathon, those were real prayers: Please God, get me to the water stop. Please God, get me past the finish line. Please God, don’t let me sign up for another one of these things. 

I’m just wondering where I really am when I’m praying sometimes. Just like I wonder where people are who are on virtual meetings without the video on. Are they cooking dinner? Are they like me – sneaking in a quick ab workout and trying to get a double whammy out of being productive? 

I wonder if God looks at me and thinks she’s not really paying attention to what she’s praying. I’d like to think that God gives me the benefit of the doubt, that I’m not judged by God. And so I’ve decided to do the same for others. If they don’t seem to be all-in, I figure they are doing the best they can. Maybe they, too, are inbetween until they find their grounding.

“Be where you are: otherwise you will miss your life” (Buddha). This is another version of Notre Dame’s “Play like a champion today.” Both remind us to be all-in, to be our best . . . every day.  To be our best, we have to be where we are. 

We don’t know when this virus will be eradicated. As I try to envision living with a perpetual sense of awareness of  COVID-19, I know I have to be right here now. I have to feel like this is enough. I am not a healthcare worker on the frontlines, and I can do what I can to be philanthropic, creative, consciencious and loving. I look out the window and see new life in trees, grass, blooms. We are all coming into a new sense of being, living, growing, connecting. Our collective sense of unity prevails even in social distancing. We have to trust that we are where we need to be. 

I find solace in the Prayer of St. Therese:

“May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born in faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that is given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”

Lockdown Limericks

Started off the lockdown in March. 

Barely shopped – mainly ate starch. 

Trips to the store were rare. 

The cupboards were bare. 

Toilet paper loaded our carts. 


Liquor stores break records sellin’ booze. 

Netflix, Hulu, Disney – give lots to choose –

Drama, action, no sports 

‘cept Jordan, football league sorts.

The big draw is Fouci’s new news. 


Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or face,

biting your nails – a disgrace.

If you do not comply,

forget, scratch your eye,

you’ll be shunned in all public space.


We’ve got long distance games in the bag. 

FaceTime, Zoom, House Party all flag. 

Stop what you’re doing and play. 

Shoo isolation away.  

Scavenger hunts, word games but no tag.


Work from home, read, write and run. 

Try to think gardening is fun.

Lots of sleep, so I’m chipper.

Why own pants that zipper? 

I eat like I’m Attila the Hun. 


We ‘ve made it through March, April, now May. 

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. 

We’ll connect through our phones 

and stay in our homes.

We’ll chat with no events to convey. 


The major reset of COVID-19 

brings us closer (and makes us clean!),  

teaches it’s time to let go 

of what we can’t control –

look for lessons in quiet quarantine. 












Look at Me

When I was in trouble when I was little, my father would demand, “Look at me while I’m talking to you.” I was too ashamed and, frankly, terrified to look this beloved, burly man in the eye.

Then in the late 90’s, I studied nonverbal behavior and taught Interpersonal Communication 20+ times at IVY Tech Community College in Valparaiso. In the United States, eye contact is an indication of honesty and sincerity. My dad was a wise man. He knew I couldn’t lie and maintain eye contact. My eyes would have revealed a big fat liar if I denied lighting matches in the alley – one of many stupid things I did while growing up in Chicago. To be caught lying in our house felt like a death sentence. 

I used to hate that my eyes gave away my truth. I hated that uninvited guests entered through the window to my soul to see my emotions, the real me. I unsuccessfully tried to hide my feelings, those powerful sensations I wear on my sleeve. I would want to say to perceived soul intruders, “MYOB.”  MYOB – Mind Your Own Business – was a normative response from older siblings in my house.

I got used to MYOB – after the initial feeling that I did something wrong by asking something, anything – and I’d think, “Okay.” To this day, the shiver of MYOB restricts my ability to ask questions. In 1997, I thought, Really,  Doctor, my son has retinoblastoma? Okay. My friend Susie was with me during that diagnosis, and she asked, “Is that cancer?” Honest to goodness, I gasped at the question. I thought, Doesn’t she know about MYOB? (And yes, my son is a cancer survivor. He is fine and lives an incredibly full life with one eye.) 

(BTW, MYOB is a real curiosity stifler and is not recommended as a useful quip.)

Back to eye contact: To protect myself from interlopers in intense moments, I divert my eyes. Insightful friends and family know that if I look away, something is up. I cannot win. 

Eye contact also indicates interest, attention. Philosopher Simone Weil said, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” She referred to it as a miracle.  In 2004, we taught Weil’s work in the freshmen Core at Valparaiso University. I’d claim that miracles occur in conversation. When students expressed doubt, I’d argue, “You don’t believe me? A conversation led me to marry a man, commit to it for the rest of my life, and led us to have five children.” If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.

Awareness of eye contact is a big, big thing, and my husband Tim is an eye contact champ. Once when I was mad at him (it happened only once), he deliberately planned dinner at a restaurant with booths. As I sat across from him, he looked and looked and looked at me. Finally I said, “Would you cut me some slack with the eye contact? I can’t take it.” He knew that the key to reconnecting was to look each other in the eye. Smart man, kind of like my dad. 

Shawn Achor, Harvard psychologist and author of The Happiness Advantage, researched how eye contact leads to relationship building, a key component to happiness. How do we cultivate eye contact while social distancing? We make bigger efforts, we get creative, and we know it’s worth it.  

This morning, in his Daily Meditation for the Center of Action and Contemplation post, Richard Rhor wrote:  When [Jesus] met a person, . . . he really believed that God was somehow present in that person, so he looked for that presence through all the overlying contradictions to it, until he found it. Then he addressed himself to that point in the person. As the Hindus also say, the divine in him saluted the divine in the other. When anyone does that, it tends to awaken the divine in the other, who is thus invited to speak from that place in return. [Notice the mutuality! It begins with one person’s generous gaze, which is then returned in kind.]”

Rhor, Achor, and others encourage me to look people in the eye. It can be uncomfortable, and there are parameters. I’m not looking to be perceived as a stalker. But I am a carrier of deep spirituality, goodness, and love. When I was younger, I tried to hide what might be revealed by my eyes –  my bad behavior, weaknesses, my unworthiness. I was afraid that someone would see the real me, the imposter, the one who is trying to be good but is really a lighter of matches. I’m grateful for aging. We grow up and out of those beliefs. 

“Seek and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7-9).  There is goodness everywhere including ourselves and others. We just have to pay attention and really see.   

Namaste – the Light in me honors the Light in you.

Transcending Distance

Eileen is five today! Katie, Bobby, and Eileen and Charlie are planning a Milwaukee party, and we are all-in! Even though there will only be the four of them in their house, I’m getting dressed up in mine. I’ve had my clothes laid out – sparkly silver top that I have never worn because Eileen is the sparkly gal – not this Grandma so much. I’m putting on pants that zip and lipstick. 

Tim and I live in Michiana Shores, Indiana, and at 5:30, we log into the delight of a pre-kindergartener whose contagious enthusiasm knows no boundaries. Bethy and her husband Danny live in Bridgeport in Chicago, Brendan is in LA, and Kevin is in Brooklyn. Bobby’s mom and sister are in Illinois. The family is ready to Zoom with Eileen! 

During FaceTime last weekend, Eileen said to Brendan, “Uncle Brendan, you get to come to my birthday party!”

I have to admit. I felt a sense of loss, an ache to be together. Does an electronic, computer-generated connection really constitute a party? Will it be a true memory of a special gathering?  I have great relationships with friends who I meet with virtually, and I know those friendships are deep and authentic. Will this celebration also be real?

Overthinking this (shocker), I said to Tim last night, “I’m worried that Eileen will be disappointed and think that her virtual party is not really a party.”  

“It is a party. She gets it. She’s smart.”

Hmm. Then like Winnie the Pooh, I opted to think, think, think, before I went into what I was really feeling. 

The thinking me rationalized that Eileen knows she cannot see classmates, have playdates, pick out books at the library, shop at the store, or swing on public park playground equipment. Last week, Katie said Eileen met a friend on the sidewalk, kept her distance, jumped up and down, giggled, doubled over, and said to Grace, “We can play together when the germs go away!” 

Five-year-olds understand that this too shall pass. 

Then I went deeper into what I was feeling – a deep longing to dance with Eileen, snuggle with Charlie, feel squirmy bodies climb over me on the couch. I want to marvel at their beauty, presence, and personalities in a place filled with warmth and love. I want to clean up, and do the dishes – things I like to do while soaking up the the funny banter in the room. I want to watch Tim twirl the kids and see their faces as they reach up to him for more.  

Then, this fifty-seven-year-old recognized that this too shall pass.

Tonight at 5:30pm, we party! Eileen has a scavenger hunt planned for us. The first to bring an item to the computer screen gets a point. Tim better stay the hell out of my way.

We are going to dance, sing, eat cake, and bear witness to love, joy, and gratitude for our children and a little girl and her brother who light up our world. That is real! 


You are Zoom.

Dear Dr. Zoom,

I do not like to sit and Zoom.

I do not like to share my room. 


I do not like to show my mess.

I do not like to have to dress.


I am tired of the screen.

I do not desire to be seen.


I look to Alexander Graham Bell.

Talk on the phone and clean as well.


I cannot do it when I Zoom.

I cannot use a mop and broom.


I cannot sort a load of clothes.

I cannot sit and paint my toes. 


I cannot go out and pull a weed.

I cannot do my bathroom deed.


I cannot water my house plants.

I sit and sit like in a trance.


I cannot tell what’s work, what’s home,

The screen is like a confined dome.


I prefer meetings face-to-face

to be with others in one place.


So dear Dr. Zoom and doom,

tell me why I should sit and Zoom. 


Dear Grandma,

Try it! Try it!

You will see 

a face, a smile,

collective glee!


Try it! Try it!

You will view

your kids’ laugh, 

a dance or two!


Dear Dr. Zoom,

Sometimes sitting hurts my butt.

I feel the distance in my gut.


Friends and family far away,

I wish that I could go and play. 


Dear Grandma,

You will! You will!

You will play!

Stick with Zoom

until that day! 


Trust in the WHO,

obey the plea

of doctors, nurses,

the CDC.


Dear Dr. Zoom,

I get it! I get it!

Zoom does show. 

I get to watch

my grandkids grow.


I get it! I get it! I will sit still.

Seeing faces is a thrill.


I’ll ignore my wrinkles, gray roots and nose,

all the quirks that screentime shows.


Noone cares what I wear.

What matters is that I am there.


I may be tired – put to the test

of distance but I know what’s best.


Thank you, thank you, Mr. Zoom.

You lighten up our quarantine gloom. 


The Light in the Lens

I sit transfixed 

engaged before the screen.

Ancestors sent script,

oft lost at sea, unseen.    


Young spirit spacious,

healthy, safe, at ease,

grounded, relaxed  –

not trying to please.   


Virtual tour,  

dwelling pristine, 

Nature in springtime    

knows no quarantine.  


No breeze. No scent. 

No warmth of day.

No waft from the stovetop.

Words I cannot say. 


Are you in love? 

Is your joyful heart beguiled? 

Do you feel my urge to touch your cheek,  

to share your world, my child?


Your face – a fair miracle –

Tales told in limited scope.

Your new beard a symbol  

of wisdom, depth, growth. 


Diverted eyes, 

a subtle sigh, 

We say I love you, 

Talk soon, goodbye.

You live your dream  

undaunted by time.

Your LIght in the lens

calls me to find and live mine.     


I Stay Put

As we enter week six of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, the sun rises on a new day of sameness – Richard Rhor’s words of wisdom, the sound of my fingers on my keyboard, the plan for a morning run, the writing of tomorrow’s lesson plan, the prep for a virtual talk at the end of the week, the blessing of a walk with a friend (six feet apart), virtual meetings with colleagues.

Outside of Zoom meetings and the planned walk in the Indiana Dunes National Park, all other events are on my own time – open options for how to spend the hours as long as the papers are graded, the lesson objectives are met, and a few minor tasks are accomplished (or put off until tomorrow). 

Gone are the days of having every minute count, of cognitive awareness of the value of the next fifteen minutes – what can I do right now to best use this time?  I look back at when the kids were young. On Sunday mornings, as Tim helped the kids get in the van to go to church, I switched the load from the washing machine to the dryer. Each week, we entered St. Paul’s at the end of the entrance hymn . . .  because of me. If the kids were engrossed in building a Lego city, I could feed the baby, clean the kitchen and maybe wash some windows – anything not to attack the stacks of papers to grade on the dining room table. Little piles of five essays – forever waiting for my Zen flow when I would plow through them while taking periodic breaks to empty the dishwasher or sort some laundry. 

Now our kids are grown and live across the country – Milwaukee, Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, Brooklyn. We don’t schedule FaceTime or House Party – all virtual gatherings are spontaneous when it comes to the family. Last week had an exception. My granddaughter Eileen and I booked a Zoom date for a Silly Hair Snacktime Story Hour. Eileen’s pigtails bobbed in unison with mine, and for a few minutes, I felt like I was five instead of fifty-seven. The pure one-on-one focus lit up my world as I tried to explain the word “invisible” in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Children’s stories have such an incredibly relevant level of complexity, and Eileen got it. Later, she told her mom all about the king who strutted the streets in his underwear out of fear of being called “simpleminded,” another tough word to define. Who writes these stories? 

Another big highlight of last week was a Zoom happy hour with my childhood friends from Chicago. It was great to see their faces in the seven squares on the screen, a new version of Romper Room. The turn taking and question and answer lacked the chaos of our normal gatherings, yet their strong personalities, quirkiness, and wit prevails. All but two of us still live in “the neighborhood,’ meaning St. Cajetan and the adjoining southside parishes. I was transported back to the days on Maplewood as they told stories of celebrating a 92-year-old’s birthday with a walking parade complete with posters and balloons on the sidewalk in front of his house. 

These days, when I do get a time sensitive request, adrenaline soars through my system. Yes! Someone needs me! Tim might send an e-mail to me – from the other room – and ask that I review his firm’s correspondence for clarity. Woosh! I get a flush of affirmation. Someone thinks I have something to offer. And that feels good.

But I don’t need that woosh. Or I shouldn’t need it. Where is the balance between wanting to contribute to the world and being content with simply being? Friends have said to me, “You have to do something.” And I always agree. Yes. I think of Gandhi – “Be the difference you want to see in the world.” I want to see compassion, caring, Arbinger’s Outward Mindset. What can I do that exemplifies love? 

Once a week, I call my mom who cannot have visitors in her nursing home. On Saturday, she asked me, “What’s new?” Hmm, daffodils got a covering in snow yesterday. My hair is getting really, really long. The schools are closed for the rest of the academic year. Senior citizens at a neighboring nursing home facility to yours are dying of COVID-19. (I did not tell her that, but I did tell her that some had been diagnosed with the virus.) I’ve learned that the weather is always new – and safe.

I FaceTime with my grandchildren and send them Melissa and Doug artsy crafts and puzzles to fuel their creativity during this time of no school. I think I am enhancing their small motor skills by sending a package labeled Fun with Scissors. Who names a children’s product Fun with a Sharp Object? I click “purchase” online and get a sense of there, I’ve done something good.

I lend a David Sadaris book to our friend next door who lives alone. I send birthday cards to my dear friends Kathy and Teresa. I send sympathy cards every week. What is happening to my friends’ parents? When did we get to be this age? We should be playing Trivia Pursuit at each other’s kitchen tables.  I attend a funeral of a beloved art professor and stand six-feet apart outside, bells tolling as the family and hearse enter St. Patrick’s Church.

I do little things. And I need nothing. I buy toothpaste on Amazon and look at the Deal of the Day. I scroll and nothing looks good. I identify this mindlessness as a waste of time. Ironically, there feels like there’s a lot of time to waste. There is no rush. And I hate it when I see that I have accomplished very little. What is that? The results of some underlying Puritanical culture? You can’t tell me that there wasn’t a lot of hanging around in Ireland. I see it in photos. But maybe the photos were the one time the people stopped working the fields to look up.I imagine they had to work all day to put a meal on the table and keep their shelter warm. They didn’t just turn up the thermostat and open the frig to gather leftovers from last night.  

I have not been to the store in over four weeks. I thought I needed a mask, and my sister Eileen gave me a beauty that she made from a muted flowered maternity dress. Her youngest is eighteen, so she’s hung on to that fabric for years just for this special occasion. I keep the mask in my car just in case I get the guts to go to the store. I have not been inside a building other than my house since March 14 and today is April 20. 

On Friday, I planned to go to the post office to send Katie a book, but I chickened out. Instead, I put twelve stamps on a big brown envelope, rolled the dice, and stuck it in our mailbox with the flag up.

I stay home except for walks and runs outside. When COVID-19 first hit, I thought it would be okay to get it – no big deal – get it over with. That was the me who sometimes thinks she’s eighteen talking. The one whose prefrontal cortex is not fully developed. She surfaces once in a while – usually after too much wine. I stay put because I have a funky little auto-immune disorder that might stick me on a respirator if I get this virus. I’m no gambler, and I’m not shooting craps.  And I’m not going to use a hospital bed that someone else needs more than me just because I want to pick out my own bananas. 

Be the difference you want to see in the world. Ghandhi had it right. I want to see the researchers and doctors figure out how to control this terrible virus, and I don’t want to do anything to get in the way of that. I stay put.