Sunday, April 26, 2020

Shine a Light

We have a large China cabinet in our dining room with a lighting feature which, when turned on, nicely showcases meaningful items to us, such as wedding gifts and family heirlooms.    

In the 15 years since we’ve had this unit, we’ve never really used the lights.  In retrospect, they would’ve been a nice touch during Thanksgiving dinners and other events, adding greatly to the ambiance.

I see this cabinet every time I walk downstairs, as it is catty-cornered to the staircase.  One morning, just a few days after Matthew, David’s son, passed away – almost 10 years ago – I almost fainted.  

The lights were on in the cabinet.   

My first thought was WTF??? 

And then I ran to David to tell him that Matthew is signaling something to us.

I generally don’t think about communicating with loved ones who have passed; it’s just that the dining room lights had never gone on independently before, so it seemed plausible that, if I were open to signs, these lights could be one of them.

David, not a believer in this kind of thinking and reeling from a broken heart, shut the conversation down.  Although I let it go, I always believed that Matthew may have been conveying some kind of message to us, even if a simple “Hi, miss you guys.” 

One morning years later, I noticed the lights on again as I came downstairs.  Was it a coincidence that Lauren – Matthew’s sister – was getting married that day?

I told David that Matthew made another appearance, this time to let us know that he’s here, and he’ll be at Lauren’s wedding too, cheering on his sister and brother-in-law.  “OK Jewel,” he said to me, in that tone – the one that means he doesn’t want to engage in that kind of conversation.

Since Matthew’s passing, I’ve noticed the lights have gone on periodically – once a year or so.  Each time, I’ve wondered…What is Matthew trying to say?  Is he relaying feelings of missing us?  Expressing frustration with the Mets?  Sharing his affection for his beloved Shea Doggy?

I realize of course that the presence of the lights may have indicted absolutely NO correlation to Matthew, or to a particular situation.  Maybe, as David said, there is no explanation other than the electrical connection in the cabinet didn’t work as it should have.

About 3 months ago, after a fairly long hiatus, the lights reappeared.  I said “Hi” to Matthew and turned them off, without reading too much into it.  The next day was a repeat.  Several days later, they came on before dinner, too.  Before long, they were going on at different times of the day.  I couldn’t keep up; I felt like every time I walked by the room, I had to return to shut off the lights. 
When I went to David freaking out about this, he stuck to his mindset - based on reason and logic – to explain that the lights could be reacting to a variation in the power voltage.  I asked if maybe they were going to burn out momentarily, following the pattern of our kitchen bulbs.  I would have been satisfied had the answer been “Yes, that’s what’s happening”; instead, he said “No,” and went back to his business. 

Meanwhile, I had become a wreck!  While part of me was excited to be communicating with Matthew so regularly – I took full advantage to update him on our growing family and other goings-on – I was getting such an eerie feeling, too.     

I didn’t mention this to David but, with every passing day, I began to wonder…Are these lights a warning of some kind?  Is something terrible going to happen to someone I love, or is the world coming to an end?

I wondered if maybe David felt it too – although he’d never admit it – but he did end up unplugging the cord.  He later told me he did that because he was sick of hearing me talk about it.

I was somewhat nervous that maybe the lights would STILL go on, which in theory would’ve been impossible…but, luckily, I didn’t have to obsess further as that didn’t happen.     

Shortly after the cabinet was disconnected, news of the pandemic hit, and life as we know it changed.  Was Matthew trying to warn us?  To let us know he’d be here with us, as always?  I know David would say that’s totally ridiculous and that anyone can draw a line between two points, if they are looking for a particular outcome. 

I will never know for sure, but I do know that I want to plug that cabinet back in one of these days.

I’ve continued to feel comforted by Matthew’s presence, even without the lights.

Matthew’s birthday is tomorrow – Monday, April 27th. 

He’d have been 30 years old.

Sunday, April 19, 2020


What an awesome weekend!

I attended 2 birthday celebrations, spent time with our granddaughter, newborn grandson and all our kids and in-laws too, learned a new crochet pattern, read lots of stories about interesting topics and toured endless fields filled with beautiful pink, yellow, red and coral tulips at a local farm…all while sitting on my rear!

And…shhhhhh...between you and me…I was serenaded by Josh Groban – in his shower!

Thank goodness for the Internet!  What a tremendous source of entertainment and education it is.

While I spend huge portions of my day surfing the net, there is still a whoooooooooole loooooooooot of time left that needs to be filled.  Luckily the weather has been beautiful and my plantar fasciitis and chondromalacia patella have been behaving, so I’ve been able to take nice, long walks - not only for exercise and fresh air, but for clearing my head, too.

David, on the other hand, has been a 24/7 public health crisis sponge and news source of his own, enhanced by a variety of medical professionals and government officials.

He tracks all the trends in every state and country around the world, not to mention our county and surrounding counties.  For an actuary like him, coupled with the fact that he is retired, building his own models and creating his own forecasts as new data becomes available is second nature to him.  It is also an activity that keeps him engaged and in-the-know, which brings a sense of calm to an otherwise  overwhelming feeling of confusion, frustration and fear.

Thank goodness for Facebook, where he can mull over information and debate his theories with others, because I can only handle so much detail about the specifics of the virology, proposed treatments, virus and antibody testing, and the making of vaccines.    

Now if he wants to talk about front line workers, the plight of the poverty-stricken, the importance of health insurance and the increase in domestic violence etc. etc., I’m all in.  It’s this science and analysis business David thrives on that is just too much for me to wrap my head around.  I try to be a good wife and an informed citizen and listen when he embarks on one of his sharing sessions with me but, within a minute or two, I’m yawning once, 10 times and before long, 20!  He quickly becomes aware of my lack of focus and knows that the conversation is essentially over.  Back to his computer he goes.

We got a serendipitous “gift” of sorts on Saturday night, just as I was beginning to get stir crazy.  It was around 7 pm and I was washing out Shea’s dog food can when, all of a sudden, I slashed my index finger on one of the sharp edges. 

Normally I’d wrap paper towel around the injury until the cut settles down, and then I’d cover it with a band aid but, in this scenario, David immediately went from Covid researcher to wound care expert.  
He ran upstairs to look for gauze, came downstairs and wrapped it, ran back upstairs because he forgot to bring down the adhesive tape, rewrapped it, and instructed me - continuously - to hold my hand/arm above my heart to stop the bleeding.

In a rather warped way - because these are bizarre times, to say the least - it was kind of fun focusing on something different - together - even if it was a bloody mess.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Like My Mom

This past week, my husband started to call me Florence, my mom’s name.  I wasn’t offended; I was entertained and then flattered, kind of…but I did ask, “What makes you say that?”  He responded by saying nonchalantly and quietly:  “You are starting to look like her.”  Really?  How so?  Hmmmm...

Could it be – dare I say – the relaxed, braless look I've been sporting for several days, I mean weeks?  I know I’m not alone in this, right ladies?  Why do I have to wear a harness all day when we are hanging out at home?  My mom rarely wore one; in fact, I’m sure she burned hers way back in a rebellious act(s) in the 1960s and may never have thought to replace it/them/whatever her stash was.  

Or was he talking about my…growing…belly?  I’ve always been self-conscious about this, ever since those child-bearing years.  But after decades of trying to exercise it away with no success, I’ve given up.  Besides, it’s one of the things I remember so lovingly about my mom:  her “pouch.”  It brought me such comfort to lay my head on her lap while she stroked my hair.  

But now I’m extra focused on my mid-section once again, given our eating habits of late.  Those 5 or 10 banana breads I’ve made – I’ve lost track of the number – flashed before me as I wondered what David was referring to with his comment.  

I’ve been able to justify this baking habit by adding sweetness to our stress during these anxiety-provoking times and not wanting to waste our continuing inventory of brown bananas.  Plus, with a recipe name like "Healthy Banana Bread," maybe it's not all that bad.  

One day I must admit, however, that I almost made 2 of them, because we polished off the early morning treat so quickly that, by nighttime, I couldn’t even remember if it was the same day as I had made the other one. 

The mystery ended when he said, pointing to my head, “There, on your temples, you have gray, like your mom.” 

Gee, thanks.  I hadn’t noticed.

Nope, never saw the 1-2” gray roots any of the 200 times I glanced in the mirror.  I’m sure if David were taller, he’d let me know the gray is on top of my head, too.

He did reassure me, however, that he finds gray/silvery hair sexy. In his defense, he has been saying that for years. 

There is a practical aspect to the gray, he said proudly.

If I were to venture out to Target or a supermarket, I wouldn’t get carded during senior hours.