Nine days ago – Jan. 27th – I had ankle surgery. I have not stepped outside since. I witness the weather through the window as emerging orange sherbet clouds slowly light up the world. Normally, my friends Maggie, Teresa, or Molly and I would be running and navigating our route for the best view of this spectacular sunrise.
Instead, I zip around the main level of our home on my borrowed knee scooter, I hop to my yoga mat, stretch, kick my legs, and try to find the familiar peace of flow from all limbs in motion.
I rediscover Broadway through Spotify – Godspell, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the Phantom, Beautiful!, Jesus Chris Superstar, and now Les Mis. I relive the moments, the people I was with, the weather that day, the energy of the bustle of Chicago. I scooter dance, sing, weep (yep), and rejoice. I take on the characters’ personas – Master of the House! And I want my grandchildren to know every lyric.
I go nowhere. I have no commute except the scoot to the bathroom. Loved ones have prepared amazing meals, soup, stew, sausage and peppers, sourdough bread. The refrigerator is stocked. My day stretches ahead of me with terrifying freedom. I feel like a cat curling into niches depending on the warmth of the sun. Yes, I have Zoom meetings, enrichment workshops, classes, but my life lacks the normalcy of accountability.
I think of my mom turning 94 in a few weeks who has not seen the sky in many months. Her heavily blinded window blocks the light, and she assures me that she is “a good sleeper.” This fiercely strong mother of ten lost her husband when she was 61, and she carries on with humor and grace. Life simply unfolds in moments because that’s all she has. No technology – no cellphone, no laptop, no internet, no Broadway tunes. The television remote is too complicated. Her joy comes from her caregivers’ kindness. She glows in the photos they send. She doesn’t want to cause any trouble, doesn’t want to be a bother. She doesn’t understand why we don’t visit. “There’s a terrible virus, Mom.” She can’t grasp it. I don’t blame her.
Oh boy. As I type, here it is – “I Dreamed a Dream.” I sob for my mom and force myself to sit with this compassion. My mom dreamed a dream that she would be with my dad, and that they would spend retirement together in Long Beach, Indiana. It didn’t happen, and she persevered, traveled, maintained great friendships, and enjoyed visits with her children and grandchildren. After the passing of two sons, she slipped into a grief we could not reach. She just wanted to be alone with her own thoughts, or with a son or daughter or her sister Mary Agnes. No more crowds. She is done with that. Now she has cheerful Annie and Mary Kate at Mercy Circle to check in on her. I hope she feels their love. As always, she accepts her lot in life.
I relive the dramas on my wifi speakers. I pray for friends who are sick, a friend who died of Covid yesterday, parents of friends who have passed, our country, frontline workers. I read, write, seek inspiration, contemplate my faith, listen to TED Talks, create assignments, grade papers, talk to friends, look at flights to anywhere, plan trips that may or may not happen, write thank-you notes from the depth of my heart, crawl up the stairs to do laundry, crawl back down, and scoot to my laptop. I research the opening of theaters. I dream of taking Eileen and Charlie to see a play or twirling them to Donny Osmond’s rendition of “Any Dream will Do.”
Yes, any dream will do. That works for me, and I’m filled with gratitude.