Hannah sang “Happy Birthday” to me by text, in ALL CAPS and with red hearts ♥♥♥ and birthday memes. But I am too sick to care what day it is. Mom had prepared a booklet of baby memories to read, and I was going to cook French food for my family in lieu of them bringing gifts. But I decided to contract Covid-19 instead. And it laid me flat. And I called off the party, of course. I hope the conventional wisdom is correct, that the four vaccinations I received (each of which cost me two days of work for the reactions) served to lessen the severity of my illness: I can breathe. Now that I have Covid-19, I appreciate more what it means to have Covid-19, and feel more compassion for the millions who have survived the illness, and millions who have died. My predominant emotion on my 58th birthday is a species of smoldering guilt: guilt that I cannot cook for my parents, that Dad cooked for me last night—ground sirloin patty and caramelized onions and buttered asparagus—and that Mom carried my plate up the stairs to my cell; guilt that I have to isolate from people who need me and find joy in my company, that I have to shun them in order to protect them; guilt for the horrified glances (as I imagined) at choir practice when Mom told the neighbors I am sick with Covid; guilt for Dad hiring a company to mow and trim the lawn because I cannot do it (this week) and neither can he; guilt that I cannot help Mom and Dad with their insurance claim against the worry-laden lady who delivers the New York Times who drove her decrepit car into the driveway who wore a cast on her left foot who had a child in her car who zoom away only to destroy Mom’s and Dad’s beautiful brick mailbox with the candle bulbs on top which I had just replaced, after tossing the newspaper out her window—the nice mailman still puts our mail in the box; guilt that I just cannot find the energy to join my children’s celebration of me; guilt that I was not careful enough and fell to the illness despite four vaccinations and two years of face coverings and continuous hand sanitizing and following all the rules—I always keep the rules; guilt for having taken Caleb and Edie to dinner when I thought I had a cold on that first day (a dozen tests during a dozen colds and flus in the last two years were all negative); and a gnawing guilt for even being in this house where the insidious virus might slip under my bedroom door and launch a deadly attack on the people I care most about. I have nowhere else to go. And I am sure I will get better soon. And I did not do anything worthy of guilt or shame, so I just need to let the guilt go and to rest and let my little world take care of itself for a few more days until I am ready to rejoin the race.
“I got bit by the booster,” I texted my boss the Mayor when I asked to be excused from her staff meeting. I had put off getting my Covid-19 booster vaccination (shot #3) because I missed two days of work each with the first two shots, with fever, aches, and chills. (My aged parents had no adverse reaction to any of their Covid shots!) Knowing I might get sick, I needed to plan around Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Steven’s visit in early December, Laura’s visit in mid-December for Caleb’s wedding, and Jeanette’s post-Christmas visit, not to mention weekly City Council meetings. I thought I had escaped Continue reading