In November every year, many of us take a day to reflect on what we’re grateful for. This Thanksgiving season was filled with blessings, illness, and tragedy, and more than ever drove home what really matters.
The first week in November Trevor’s mother threw Ivy a lovely baby shower. Since his family lives almost three hours away, we decided to get a hotel and make a weekend of it. This was the first time we’d met Trevor’s family and I was nervous about it. I’m shy by nature and though I do fine in crowds, the anticipation of crowds panics me. The thought of meeting essentially everyone in Trevor’s family, on their turf, after little to no socializing throughout this pandemic, was intimidating.
That Saturday, the night before the shower, we had dinner at his grandparents’ house. When we drove up, a stately, yellow Colonial style home radiated warmth and coziness even before we walked through the door. Inside, the kindness and feeling of love was tangible, and was cemented after spending the evening getting to know Trevor’s grandparents. They’re from the east coast as it turns out so that helped with my comfort level tremendously.
The next day, we got to meet all of Trevor’s family and friends and see where he grew up. Another gorgeous home filled with unique and interesting things. Seeing Trevor the last six years in his world in Santa Barbara gave me a different perspective than I got from hearing stories, and seeing pictures from his childhood. His mother and stepfather, father and stepmother, lots of grandparents and aunts and uncles, friends from his childhood and from his Santa Barbara life. I was blown away by how much work his mother put into the party, and was impressed at how smoothly everything went, so many friendly people milling about to celebrate the new baby.
Though it was a perfect day, a perfect weekend really, my favorite part was how everyone kept coming up to me and telling me that they loved Ivy, that they were glad she was part of their family. I watched her, so at home with everyone, and was grateful too that she was part of their family. I don’t dwell on my mortality much but at times like that, I was relieved that if anything ever happened to me, she’d be okay. There’s a whole, very big, family there who would make sure of it. All this made me even more happy about Ivy’s and Trevor’s future.
Midweek the next week, Ryan texted me that one of his bosses went home sick. Ryan had developed what we thought were allergies and didn’t think much of it at the time, but when his boss went home that Wednesday with fever and chills we feared COVID. When Ryan got home, even though he wasn’t all that sick, he took an at home test. It was negative. The next day his boss went in again and left early. Ryan felt a little worse and we started to get concerned. By Friday, Ryan had a fever too so came home just a couple of hours into his day. One of his other coworkers also started to get sick.
That Friday, two weeks before Thanksgiving, when Ryan got home we did another COVID test and it was positive. He texted everyone at work to let them know but we were still all thinking it wasn’t that bad. He’d been sicker in the past, he said. It was a mild head cold with a mild fever. Nothing major. The thing about COVID in our society, people are getting relaxed. Many of us have been vaccinated, some got boosters, a lot of people already got COVID with or without symptoms. Everyone is tired of quarantining and staying home. With vaccines we’re lulled into this false sense of safety so we go out more. We wear masks everywhere and wash our hands constantly but with people we see all the time, we’re not so careful. At work, for Ryan, with just five people in the front office it felt safe. All five of them caught it.
By Sunday he’d had a fever for a few days. His coworker had also gotten sicker and developed a fever. His boss, who’d been the first one to get sick, texted everyone Sunday night saying he’d been admitted to the hospital. We were in shock. Admitted? It made Ryan’s symptoms seem a lot more scary.
On Monday we got a call at five in the morning. His boss died overnight. Only a few days before, they were working together in the office, and then he was gone. They’d all worked together thirty years and he was gone just like that. This is the man who grew up in the house we now own, who slept in the rooms we sleep in, who played outside in our yard, and spent his teen years watching television in the living room where I am now, typing this blog.
By Wednesday, Ryan was only getting worse. He had a fever, cough, and was dehydrated. We decided to go to the ER to get him rehydrated. I wasn’t allowed inside but the nurse said he’d only be a couple of hours. I went home and went back to work expecting a call any minute to pick him up. Except I didn’t get that call. Instead Ryan texted me to say he had pneumonia. Later he texted again that he was being admitted. A couple of days later we found out his other boss had been admitted, was right down the hall and in worse shape. The details here don’t matter because finally, six days later, Ryan was released in time for Thanksgiving. His boss got out four days after that.
The following Monday (over a week ago now) everyone went back to work, weak and tired, his boss on oxygen. His other boss gone and leaving only memories and an empty desk as a reminder to how things were just a couple of weeks before.
During the week Ryan was in the hospital it hit home how reliant I am on him as a companion and best friend. I missed all the little things, like how when I get up in the morning my coffee cup is loaded with Cremora and is parked in the Keurig machine. Or how he’s always on the other side of the couch when I watch TV, and I squish my cold feet under his thigh. Or how we always go everywhere together even if it’s just the grocery store. The smell of Old Spice, the diet soda always stocked in the fridge, the cute texts and gifs he sends me during each day.
If it weren’t for Ryan, Ivy wouldn’t have met Trevor or be pregnant with a California baby. She wouldn’t have the loving extended family, who threw her a shower and who are grateful she’s here.
We are all thankful this year for what have and for everyone who has entered our lives.
I am truly grateful for you all, and blessed that it’s all worked out just as it should.