By Marilyn Shapiro
Up until recently, I thought that maybe I hadn’t missed that much in the past 16 months. My husband Larry and I had our health and had managed to keep a level of contentment throughout the pandemic. We had missed our family terribly, but we were able to have frequent Zoom calls with our children and grandchildren.
Even throughout our two weeks in California, I had felt pretty good. Larry and I had hugged our 15 and a half-month grandson and been overwhelmed with emotion. I knew I had missed a huge chunk of his first year, but I took comfort again from the hours on Zoom and FaceTime. We were starting our in-person relationship late, but I didn’t dwell on what we had missed. He knew us. He came to us. We savored every minute of our visit with our son Adam, our daughter-in-law Sarah, and the beautiful little boy who had been named after two of his great-grandfathers.
But then, after our flight to Denver and an easy drive to Summit County, we hugged our granddaughter. (She had been warned: We would be hugging her so hard that she would squeak!) But who was this taller, more beautiful, more poised person? Where was the little girl that we had hugged goodbye in Florida in March 2020? The gap between that little girl and this person who poured her own tea, rode a two-wheeler, and swam underwater in her community pool was so great.
A Different Celebration
Larry and I had spent the Fourth of July in Frisco, Colo. for at least 10 years prior to COVID. We had watched the parade down Main Street with Sam and daughter Julie, and then, six years ago with Sam and a very pregnant Julie. The next few years, our granddaughter watched from her carriage, then her father’s arms, and then as a participant on a tricycle in the Cavalcade of Children.
This year, however, we headed out of San Francisco and by 11:30 a.m., five humans and one dog were floating down the Colorado River. Sam manned the raft while Julie completed the entire trip, including some level 1 and 2 rapids, on a paddle board. Larry, our granddaughter and I found spots on the raft and took in the beauty surrounding us. We spotted a bald eagle perched in a tree, Canadian geese gliding along the shore, red cliffs rising above us, the Rocky Mountaineer weaving its way on the train tracks above us, fellow travelers on rafts and kayaks and paddle boards and inner tubes catching the currents with us. It was a beautiful July 4, made even more special in contrast to last year’s isolation in our Florida home.
The day ended with our granddaughter reading Go Dog Go, one of our favorite children’s books, to Larry while sitting on his lap on a rocking chair in her bedroom. Behind them, the window gave us a view as the sun set behind the aspen tree.
Yes, we had missed time with her, with her new cousin, with all my children that we can never make up.
And I hadn’t realized how much I had missed our time in the mountains. On our third day, I finally made the hike up to Rainbow Lake, a short distance from our daughter’s home and our summer rental. As I walked up the trail, I took in the columbines and the wild roses and the aspens. Then I reached the lake, my happy place, the spot in which I find peace and contentment. How could I have forgotten how much I love this spot over 9.100 feet above sea level in the Rockies? Had it been almost two full years since I had sat on the log and drunk in the beauty that surrounded me?
As we finish our second week in the mountains, Larry and I have also been able to connect with the friends and extended “mishpacha” (family) that we had not seen since August 2019. We took in outdoor lunches and evening concerts with dear friends from North Carolina. We celebrated our granddaughter’s birthday with Sam’s family by riding the Georgetown Railroad, eating lunch alongside Clear Creek, and singing “Happy Birthday” over cupcakes and a candle-that-refused to stay lit in a breezy park. After two full years, we are again finding our Colorado rhythm.
“Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” is a Yiddish expression meaning man plans and God laughs. Recent events have shown us how unpredictable life can be, whether exemplified by a terrible pandemic that has lasted for months or a catastrophic building collapse that happened in seconds.
On a personal level, these past four weeks of my reconnecting with family and friends has made me realize how much I have missed and how much time I have lost, and how important it is to never take what I cherish for granted.