We all went through this historical and traumatic year together, but not together at all. Many of us are still processing, alone and with friends, just how much impact the pandemic had on us.

One thing is certain: the people who had family locally, and who established safety “pods,” so that they could see one another, were so damn lucky. Also lucky were the parents whose adult children came home to live with them for months during the pandemic. The closeness. The game nights. The sourdough bread. Speaking of bread, I was eaten up with envy. This was because not only did I not see my local daughter and her husband, because they both continued to work and thus refused to expose themselves to us, but also because my California daughter and her children and husband were so far away.

Zoom and FaceTime were lame. The kids had the attention span of gnats, and by the way, how do you have a conversation with a child you hardly know any more, because you haven’t seen them in months and months?

The hardest thing about COVID for me was this separation. I had days when the sadness felt like an anvil on my chest. I read memoirs about families and the closeness of children to their beloved grandparents, and I felt angry at those families. Envy and anger are so closely related, and I felt a lot of both.

This week, the children pictured above are coming to visit, along with their parents. We are so excited to see them again we can hardly remain inside our skins. I am having trouble sleeping: “The Christmas Eve” phenomenon. I go over and over the grocery list in my head: Popsicles, Lucky Charms, watermelon, blueberries, gummy bears. I have sorted the children’s books I still have at least ten times. Bubble bath. My husband created a spreadsheet of potential activities. We both had a learning afternoon–downtown Dayton features rental electric scooters, and so we took those for a spin. They go very fast, and although I am sure the seven-year-old will be fine, I picture the four-year-old having some sort of tragic crash. Then my husband puts a hand on my shoulder and says, “She will be on the same scooter with one of her parents. She will be fine. Take a deep breath.”

We have the menus planned. I have my cleaning schedule down. I have had a few conversations with the cat, to tell her that there will be a ruckus, and she needs to be prepared to spend a lot of time under our bed.

So. Now all I have to do is wait. This next few days will seem like eternity. I know many of you will read this and nod your head “Yes! Yes! Yes!” For the rest of you who have been with your family all along, YOU ARE LUCKY DUCKS.

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