Ivy graduated from college on Saturday, via a virtual ceremony. For the first time in about two months, she and Trevor slept over the house the night before. We ate with them at the kitchen table, inside the house. The last two times we saw them during this quarantine it was outside only, on the patio. But, as I stressed to Ryan, we can’t avoid contact with them for another year or two until there’s a vaccination. At some point we all have to start living again, albeit differently than pre-COVID-19.
When we first heard that her ceremony would be virtual, we were sad. It felt like the end of everything we knew. But in short time we’ve adapted and now we recognize the overreaction. She still graduated and will get her degree when the college mails it. They mailed her a cap and tassel and we had a leftover gown for photos. We got to be together, texting family while we all watched the ceremony online at the same time. They didn’t call out each name, just scrolled through the names, but the rest was there. The National Anthem, words from school leaders, and an inspirational speech from the Dean. One girl sang the school song. Each student had a profile page you could click to view. It was different but it was nice. Maybe even nicer in some ways because we were together, not off in a stadium barely able to see, stressing over parking or the guy with the bullhorn.
It was the little things that made it special, like her getting a picture with our cat who is now twenty-one years old. I made a mosaic Ivy to go on the wall (a hobby I picked up several months ago). Getting her picture next to it was something we couldn’t have done had this been at the campus. Right before picture time we picked roses from the yard. Afterward we had a relaxing lunch. We didn’t hug her or Trevor because, at least for now, we are being careful even though no one is sick. We didn’t share food or eat off each others’ plates. When we drove to get the food, Ryan and I left them here as we didn’t feel right all piling into a car.
But there is a lot of good that has come out of this paradigm shift in our lives and our thinking. There will always be the social media angry types, fuming either about our lack of rights at being forced to wear masks, or those in a fury because everyone doesn’t wear one. But the people I work with, who I talk to on the phone, or people in my town I see at the grocery store or out walking, they’re kinder. They know we are all on the same road, the only road: the future. Mask or no mask, nice or mean, rejoicing in life or obsessing about ever-changing death projections, sharing what we have or hoarding and hating. Around here at least, people seem at ease. They’re careful about social distancing but there also seems to be an air of calm, of unity, that wasn’t here when we were all going a thousand miles an hour, from one event to the next.
On June 12, Ivy will receive her first ERT, enzyme replacement therapy for Fabry disease. It’s time to resume what we were all doing before COVID-19. Before I would have sat with her for the six hour treatment plus the time to prep. Now I’m not sure; she may have to go in alone. But if nothing else, this pandemic has given me perspective. The treatment is available, insurance is still covering it, her health is still fine. Except for being afraid for a short while, it hasn’t changed anything for us. Not concerning her treatment at least.
I’m still working full time, as is Ryan. Trevor was laid off but can collect unemployment. Finding a full time job will be a little harder for Ivy given the continued restrictions in her and my counties, but it will happen in time. People will need help with their mental health now more than ever.
Restaurants are starting to open for dine-in services, though most of the people I know are still a little gun shy about that. In her county, masks will be required even when they’re at a food drive-thru. Like us, Ivy and Trevor have grown accustomed to wearing masks in stores, and doing more cooking at home. She’s been making breads and we were both excited when I found two packets of yeast at our local store, one for our household, one for theirs.
I saw a billboard a few weeks ago in the San Fernando Valley. “Make this the year” it said. “PEACE. Pass it on.” If I’m looking for signs from God or whatever ethereal being I trust with my destiny, it can’t be more blatant. I later ran across a car with this licence plate. “Soul Hug.” Another sign.
I am so proud of Ivy for graduating from college, at a time when the world is so foreign. But we are all graduating, each day, as we learn from the past and change our futures. We can’t hug (outside of our household) right now, but there is still an awful lot of love out there. Give everyone a soul hug, and remember that we are all in this together.
Peace. Pass it on.