Strolling at a brisk rate, it took me 13 minutes to walk the interior parameter of an empty playground – empty, that is, with the exception of two 12 year old boys inhabiting a bench that is usually occupied by tired mothers and over-stuffed diaper bags. “What are those boys thinking?” I wondered on my eighteenth rotation. Suddenly, the pre-teens disappeared as quietly as the City has become in a matter of days.
My FitBit beeped: 2,700 steps to reach your goal. “My goal?” I thought. Oh, my goals have changed drastically in the past 96 hours! And while it’s alarming that my cupboards are stuffed with enough carbs to raise my cholesterol 100 points, and it’s disappointing to have three productions canceled, I’m overwhelmed by the fact that I will be unable to see my grandchildren for, what? Two weeks? Forty-five days?
I face-timed with my older granddaughter, Tallulah, as she finished her lunch. “What are you up to, Lulu?” I asked. “Me and mom were playing hairdresser in the bathroom.” “That sounds like fun,” I said. Tallulah paused for a moment. “Too pensive,” I thought. I flipped my removable denture out of my mouth – something that always makes her laugh. Tallulah giggled and said, “Grandma, when I come for my next sleepover, we can play hairdresser, too. You can share my barrettes!” I nodded agreeably.
Since Tallulah was born, I’ve spent 20-40 hours a week playing babysitter. After her sister arrived last year, I’ve been visiting my charges four days a week and sharing childcare responsibilities with my daughter, who works from home. “What is Lulu thinking about my absence?” I keep wondering.
Yes, children are resilient. Tomorrow, Lulu and I will face-time again and, as promised, play a new game I purchased – an afterthought as I paid for water, canned turkey chili, wipes, TP, and coffee. Maybe I can hold her attention for a while longer. If not, I’ll just remove my bottom denture to hear my granddaughter laugh.
When our phone call ended, I wept as silently as the empty City before turning on the news.
Thank you Bara, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series: