In the “pre-pandemic” world, I took time every week to focus on my writing projects. Sunday mornings were my sacred time, during which my husband would wrangle our three children and I would retreat to my office for several hours of (mostly) uninterrupted writing time.
The narrative I was constructing was my own, an expanded memoir version of what I write in my blog. This has been my heart’s work for about two years. I had finally reached a point in early March where I thought that I could formulate a more cohesive first draft. Once done, I would send it to a freelance editor I had worked with before.
Then, on Friday, March 13th, Shelter in Place orders went into effect in Illinois. My three children became my new “co-workers” during the day, and we have had to juggle working alongside e-learning assignments in the confinement of our home. It is now Day 37 of what I have termed “No Breaks.”
I have managed to keep my Sunday mornings reserved for myself, with one significant change: I have set aside the memoir that I have been working on for two years. The subject matter is far too heavy for me right now. I cannot handle recalling and piecing together such an labor of love. Navigating these days in our home require so much emotional energy by themselves.
It was a bit heartbreaking to acknowledge that this project could not have my efforts right now. Not only that, but I have no idea when I will be able to go back to it. On top of that: how could I redirect myself in some type of other project, so that I didn’t feel like I had given up everything?
The answer came to me on April 4th. It was my grandmother’s 100th birthday. She lives in a memory care unit that has been in lockdown for several weeks with no visitors. My aunts and uncles that live nearby did a parade outside of her window, waving and holding signs. Her life has been rich and interesting, in ways far different than most people. My grandfather was in the foreign service; therefore, they lived in many different countries over several decades, from Egypt to France to Burma. Along this journey, they had four children — my dad and his brother and two sisters.
I have always treasured items from their lives overseas. I have postcards from Belgrade…