A Year Ago:: The Last Things

Y’all. Our quarantine-aversary has come. It has been a year since COVID-19, shut downs, social distancing, and masks became as regular to our lives as queso and Blue Bell ice cream. I remember thinking in March, How are we supposed to live like this until MAY?! And somehow, we breezed past May, skipped over September, hopped through the holidays, and we’ve landed, a little {or a lot} worse for the wear, right back where we started. 

A year. 

A year since I last ate dinner inside a real restaurant. A year since I last flew on an airplane. A year since I last stepped foot in a library and leisurely browsed the stacks. A year since I last attended Mass at my church. A year since I hugged my 98 year old grandmother. 

What Would I Have Done Differently?

In season 9 of Friends, there’s a scene where Mike and Phoebe are struggling with their break up, and Mike looks at her and says:: “If I had known the last time I saw you would be the last time, I… I would have stopped to memorize your face, the way you moved, everything about you.” Cheesy, yes, but bear with me. As I was thinking through some of the things I’ve gone without for a year, I couldn’t help but reflect on those words. If I had known it would be the last time, what would I have done differently?

If I had known the last time I ate in a restaurant would be the last time, I would have picked something better than Chick fil A {no disrespect. I love me some CFA chicken nuggets}. I would have ordered something so ridiculously complicated, that there’s no way I could replicate it, even with a year at home and endless time to perfect my cooking skills. I would have found a babysitter, put on my cutest maternity clothes that fit my 8 month pregnant body,  and enjoyed a night out where my son {and now my daughter} were not constantly clamoring for my attention. 

If I had known the last time I flew on an airplane would be the last time, well, I probably wouldn’t have cared because I’d just finished a 16 hour flight back from Australia and airplanes make me nauseous. However, I would have relished the freedom to travel when and where I wanted. I would have delighted in being somewhere other than my house, and I definitely wouldn’t have spent the last two days of my vacation feeling homesick.  

A Year Ago:: The Last Things
Our last visit to an airport.
Our last family vacation in Melbourne, Australia.
A Year Ago:: The Last Things
Phillip Island. So beautiful. Why was I homesick?!

If I had known the last time I went to the library would be the last time, I would have checked out as many children’s books as my library card would allow. And then maybe checked out the same amount for myself using my husband’s library card. Because quarantine boredom, am I right? I would have let my son play with the other kids in the children’s section longer, maybe even until the library closed. I would have asked the librarian for resources about baking sourdough bread. Or perhaps I would have just savored the notion of being inside a building for more than 15 minutes and not having a mild panic attack. 

If I had known the last time I attended Mass would be the last time for a year, I wouldn’t have cared that my son asked me a million questions during the homily. I would have snuggled him in my lap and tried to see the wonder of the consecration through his eyes. I would have stayed on my knees to pray after Mass had ended, would have lingered by the stained glass windows, would have remembered to be thankful for the gift of worship and community. 

If I had known the last time I hugged my grandmother in January would be the last time for a year, I would have held on for as long as she let me. I would have breathed in her scent, freshly baked bread and fabric softener. I would have told her I loved her a second or third time, maybe even a fourth. I would have paused and reflected on how blessed I am to have her in my life still. To be thankful for such a strong witness to our faith and an example of the wife and mother I aspire to be. 

Small Things with Great Love

This year, more than anything, has taught me not to take my life for granted. I miss the silly things:: getting a pedicure, browsing through the bookstore, sitting at the bar for a glass of wine. I miss the essential things:: hugs from my mom and dad, regular playmates for my kids, enjoying a latte from my favorite coffee shop {I kid. Sort of}. What I don’t miss are the blinders I was wearing before COVID. I was passively living my life, just keeping one foot in front of the other. Now, I’m not saying that post-COVID, my life will be completely different. I’m a mom of two littles; my life will likely look much the same, with the exception of the ability to be out in the world. However, I have been taking each day as it comes and looking at it with more intentionality. What can I do differently to better serve those around me today? How can I bring a smile to my kids’ faces? To a stranger’s face? What is God’s will for my life, right here, in this moment? Typically, the answer is something small. But as Mother Teresa says, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” 

So maybe next year, I’ll be able to look back and say that 2021 was the last time I neglected to live each day with purpose. 

And also, hopefully, the last time I stay in my house for a year because of a global pandemic. 

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Rebecca S. is a born and raised Houstonian; she grew up in Katy, graduated with a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Houston {go Coogs!}, and made a home in West Houston with her native Houstonian husband. She quickly realized that the chaotic lifestyle of the hospitality industry was not for her and soon found her calling in education. She taught while earning her masters in Library Science from the University of North Texas. Currently, she is staying home with her son, Thomas {2016} and daughter Charlie {2020}. In her free time, she loves to read, write, run, and roam the world. While her roots are firmly planted in H-town, she takes every available opportunity to go on an adventure and explore historic cities, hike and run new trails, and, of course, try beers from every country.


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