Before coming to the cottage I had been quarantined with my two youngest sons, Cedrone and Samuel, for 95 days.
My oldest son, Ronnie came along after being evicted from Crete, Greece and has been with us for 25 days. He tried everything to stay in Greece to no avail. He suffered from appendicitis while on Crete, during the first weeks of quarantine. After his two weeks of antibiotics and a follow up appointment, Greece wanted him out. “We do not care where you go. You just can’t stay here” Greek authorities told him.
He arrived in Connecticut on May 10th and was required to Emergency Shelter in Place for fourteen days according to CDC guidelines. We worked hastily to prepare for his stay at an empty family rental property. For two weeks we visited him outside the window on the porch bringing him food, additional supplies, and special treats. For him it was strange having to talk to people through the window screen, but time went by quickly because he was still working remotely for the Sustainable Ocean Alliance.
I bought Cedrone his art kit in January for therapeutic use to alleviate post surgical depression. He was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition called Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome in November 2019. On January 17, 2020 he had a “rare and complicated” heart procedure, according to his cardiologist, Doctor Cheyenne Beach of Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. The surgery lasted almost ten hours due to the location of the extra tissue they needed to remove. Fortunately he has had two normal EKGs: one on February 17th before quarantine, and one on May 18th during quarantine.
While Cedrone saw the coronavirus as “dangerous” he also remembers feeling “awful” because we were quarantined a week before everyone else due to the fear we had surrounding his high risk factors. This also meant that his dream of going to Italy for the Summer was slowly dwindling. Cedrone had a goal to spend three months in Udine, Italy helping a congregation with African Refugees. He had been approved by the congregation, had secured a flat, and his flight was booked for June 8th. This trip was already postponed several times because of his heart condition, surgery, and follow up appointments. The kid couldn’t catch a break.
Coincidentally, Sam was diagnosed with a mild heart condition known as Premature Supraventricular Complexes on May 18th. These would present an occasional, mildly irritating, fast heartbeat. He had to wear a heart monitor for thirty days, but it was nothing severe enough to require surgery
Sam was the most restless during quarantine. For the first two months he disguised his restlessness by indulging in endless gaming sessions all night while sleeping all day. When his art kit arrived he scoffed at it at first. After a few days he took to it with great vigor and turned his artwork into graphic designs.
When the weather broke and he got a fishing pole in his hand, it was all over. He started ordering fishing and camping gear on Amazon. He had declared his desire to camp on the river and fish all day and night. My maternal mind was fraught with dangerous possibilities. There could be dangerous people living in the woods. There have been coyote, bear, and mountain lion sightings in town. What if he slipped, hit his head on a rock, and fell into the river. I had to do something fast!
The first three days we were at the cottage my stepson, Devion, came as well. Devion was married on March 1st, two weeks before quarantine. We were happy to welcome his new wife and stepson into our uniquely blended family.
When preparing for the cottage I told the three boys that they would each have to choose a day to provide dinner, whether they would cook or buy take out, they were grown now and could help out. The first night Devion was there Ronnie said "what night are you cooking Devion? Mom said we each had to pick a day. What is your day?" Devion enthusiastically chose a day to provide dinner. A new tradition had been formed.
As Devion stood on the dock one day with his five year old son, I realized he was the same age when I married his father. Sentimentality swept in and all of the summer memories I had with him. It was truly a blessing to have him, his wife, and his son come to the cottage. My mother was pleased to have his new wife at her disposal to continue her family tales and the two of us reveled in sharing memories of Devion's childhood.
When I sent Devion his photos from the week he loved them so much he told me there was "Something existentially sobering about bringing my son to the same places I went."
We may not have been on our European escapade, but in some ways our pond-side retreat was better. We were close to home so I could check on the cats. We did not have the stress of crowded airports and hefty luggage. Our spirits were much more relaxed and low key than if we had been trekking across a big city, making our way through a remote countryside village, or hiking up a treacherous mountainside. Loafing and laziness was our theme for the week.
When Quarantine started I was so worried. I was worried about my boys of course, but I was also worried about my family, friends, and community. Were they following CDC guidelines? Were they obeying the governor’s Stay at Home orders? Did they have enough food and supplies? Were they wearing masks? Who could I help and how? How could we give back to the community? I’ve realized this week at the cottage that everyone is doing the best they can under the circumstances they are faced with. Each individual human being has to decide for themselves what is best for them in their lives at each moment in time.
I was enlightened to the fact that I am so truly blessed. Blessed to start new traditions and cherish old ones. Blessed to be surrounded by my parents, children, and new grandchild. For me in this moment in time I get to choose how I stay safe and healthy, how I stay informed without losing my joy, and how I look at my ever changing world, while reflecting on how I got here. Summer was here and I was profoundly enlightened by the new traditions and future summers I had to look forward to.