For many months during the pandemic, nothing inspired me to sit still long enough to write. I was anxious and emotionally exhausted from the persistent virus, the surreal election AND our family’s search for a new nest. I also suffered from sadness because our family has been separated for a year and—thanks to Covid—our son would not be able to come home from LA to celebrate his 30th birthday with his family. In spite of the many personality differences between my twins, they have always enjoyed celebrating their “twinship”: sharing birthdays, making separate wishes, and blowing out an ever-increasing number of candles together.
But not this year. As it became clear that there would be a second, deadlier virus wave over the winter, we realized that Matt would not be flying home in December to celebrate the twins’ milestone 30th birthday on December 26th. Even before LA became the new Covid epicenter, Matt worried about bringing the virus home and infecting the rest of us. For a while, I tried to be grateful that we’d all managed to stay healthy over the past nine months.
That tenuous gratitude went out the window twelve days ago when Matt called us to say he was sick with Covid and had tested positive. Although he had no fever or headache, his main symptom was the most worrisome: painful breathing. With Los Angeles hospitals overflowing and a new internist who hadn’t returned his call on the day he told her he’d tested positive, my husband and I had trouble sleeping. The urgent care clinic told Matt he “might get worse before he got better.” Yet there was absolutely NOTHING we could do to help him. I recommended he order a pulse oximeter just to reassure all of us that he was getting enough oxygen.
“At least I didn’t come home and get you guys sick,” Matt tried to console me over the phone.
While true, that was not much comfort. Now all I could hope for was that my son would be well enough on his birthday to celebrate with his live-in girlfriend and maybe blow out virtual candles with Samantha on FaceTime.
Nobody was going out to dinner to celebrate their 30th birthday anyway…. LA is currently in lockdown and New York City has shut down indoor dining. On December 26th the temperature in NYC was 28 degrees. Eating outdoors was impossible, even at restaurants with outdoor sheds with heaters for every table. Freezing is just, well, freezing. Who wants to eat an expensive Italian meal wearing a down coat, wool hat and gloves (and let’s not forget the mask)? We might avoid Covid but catch pneumonia instead.
I’m happy to report that Matt felt a lot better on his birthday. Halfway through the day he’d already eaten an entire key lime pie baked by his girlfriend from scratch. We treated them both to a Japanese dinner of sushi ordered into their LA apartment. Here in NYC, we ordered Samantha’s favorite pasta dishes from Tony Di Napoli. She had requested a yellow cake with chocolate frosting, so we braved the cold and went to two stores to find the most delicious version in the neighborhood.
We also bought Samantha a “30” tiara and two enormous mylar balloons—a pink three and a rainbow colored zero.
“The balloons are for both of them, “I told Howard, as I dragged them awkwardly out of State News, “even though I’m trying my best to make this birthday feel special for Samantha, since she doesn’t have a boyfriend and can’t go out with friends either.” We called Matt and arranged for him to FaceTime us when it was time to blow out the birthday candles. Samantha sang “Happy Birthday to us…” in her beautiful soprano voice, while the rest of chimed in off-key.
I hope my twins’ respective wishes come true. It was a bittersweet birthday, with Samantha celebrating with her friends on Zoom. Even with a virtual 30th birthday, technology and connection issues were frustrating. But all’s well that ends well, right? Her Zoom party was a success. Matt is feeling much better and will literally be home-free on day 14 very soon. I’m hoping he’ll be able to come home for my birthday in March. (He was sick at that time last year too!) In the meantime, my only wish is for the rest of us to stay Covid-free until we receive the vaccine. All I’m asking for now is a safe, healthy nest.
Under the circumstances, what else could any mama-bird want?