IT’S a whole new world.
Not sure about you but my collective household was pleased to turn the calendar to a new month this week.
We don’t mind all this extra togetherness in today’s new world but we’d collectively decided that March went on for what seemed like an eternity and by the time the calendar clicked over, it could’ve been June and we’d believed it.
Fools we are not, April 1 proving it and it’s onwards and upwards with renewed faith and positivity as much as we can model it, spurred, as I suggested last column by daily scripture, saintly feast days, doses of vitamin D, movement and rest plus the occasional disagreement needing the Lenten lens.
Before the turn of calendar page I was drawn to visit elderly relatives, on my own and while still possible, to ensure their health and well-being within this ever-changing world and my own sanity, helped by eye-balling them in person and not through a screen or phone line.
It was a bit of a mercy dash to the city, three hours away, while My Dearly Beloved kept the home fires burning and the teenage Misses chipped in, chipped being the operative word.
Ever-mindful of social distancing requirements, the city presented a mix of those following advice and those quite clearly, not.
Wherever you sit in that category I’d urge you, along with the myriad of voices and words available to anyone with eyes and ears open at this time, to be mindful in this new world, to not take the invisible dangers around us all, lightly.
Overseas, our Italian relatives and friends desperately grapple with the reality of so many around them, dead or dying, and the daily possibility of the virus we all know the name of too well, being within their homes.
Our online and phone conversations have been extended because we are, “All in this together,” as tedious as that saying has become.
Visiting my father and both grandmothers over the recent weekend was a first in many ways.
It was the first time that dad and I had slept under the same roof for about 25 years.
We dined together, just the two of us, again a two-decades- plus-first, extensively discussed our favourite political and news topics, and considered the likelihood of convincing his mum, aged 96, of our following-day visit only remaining within her walls and not involving a shared shopping trip of any nature.
That next-day visit was a true first of three generations at table, and no interruptions except a deliberate overseas call to check in with various familial others.
The three of us talking, huddled around the kitchen table and on Facetime to Italy, was a certain glorious sharing, my grandmother never quite able to fathom how current technology makes it happen, so accustomed to picking up a receiver or doing that other antiquated activity of letter writing.
Come to a conclusion, the visit did, and eventually onto my other grandmother’s house, the Nonna who lost her life-long companion in January.
She offered her “elbow” at the door to greet me and we understood its necessity, as strange as that is within families and people who know each other inside out.
Nonna needed to talk, beyond the phone, and she expressed a sentiment that still makes me well up with tears because I share her heart for the faith.
She said, “I woke up yesterday and wondered when Palm Sunday is … I had to look at the calendar, for the first time in my life, I wasn’t sure.”
Nonna’s been so out of sorts since farewelling her beloved of 70 years.
Mixed now with the new world reality of no Mass except for when she watches it within an Italian television subscription, she clings to the witness and words of Pope Francis.
Remembering the years of never missing Mass on Palm Sunday with Nonno, and the traditions and rituals so familiar and sacred to them both, her voice quivers.
She also laments the grandchildren she can’t see at this time, those who are physically distant or close by and cautious, reverting to calling mostly.
My heart broke for her and I offered to visit the cemetery together, where crowds aren’t and the family chapel they built, waits.
We stood together, within the chapel’s entrance at Nudgee cemetery, and sobbed.
I considered how fortunate we were not only to be blessed by the life-long company of my grandfather but also the present-day reality of not being able to farewell him in the same way as we did, if he died at this time.
I wondered how Nonna continues without him and she shares how many times in the day she finds herself crying.
It was so hard not to embrace her in that moment, and all the ones earlier in the visit, but particularly then, social distancing rules or not.
Leaving both grandmothers was also challenging, wondering when I’d see them next.
Making the most of the city visit, I managed to have the briefest of encounters at the homes of my God-daughters as well, their families and I remaining at a safe distance, namely me on the footpath.
This too was a blessing and driving away from each household held the curiosity of when and how we’d meet again.
Am sure you’ve stories of challenge at this time of change and newness.
It’s not a “new” that we can rejoice in, even as we enter Holy Week today.
It’s a new that’s necessary and to be lived through with eyes, ears and hearts remaining open to what God continues to promise.
It’s a new where our hands and feet move differently through each calendar month, as we collectively hold our breath, wondering when we can truly and deeply “breathe out” again.
Let’s hold onto the fact it is Holy Week, we are called to be like Christ at all times and we will experience the glory of Easter, in its fullness, as the Lord God reveals.