Tonight was our last parent group meeting for my son's former therapeutic school. When the pandemic lockdown started and all the students returned home, the school started a parent support group. We were going to meet for "a few weeks" until the kids went back to school.
When a few weeks turned into a few months, we kept going. When all the kids eventually returned, we kept going. When the school announced it was closing the residential program, we kept going. When our kids all celebrated their last day of school, we kept going. We kept going until tonight, saying goodbye to the two therapists leading the group this whole year plus. The group of parents have decided to stay together and continue our Thursday evening meetings, but we'll take on a different chapter, without therapists at the helm.
It feels like the end of an era.
Tomorrow, the state of Illinois is lifting a whole bunch of restrictions, including masks. People who are vaccinated no longer need to mask. I've been going to more restaurants and cafes lately - I actually sat down this afternoon to work in a cafe like I used to do. To see everyone's faces feels so nice. I love smiling at people, and I can't stop doing it. It's like I'm channeling to them, "I see you! Isn't this great! It's safe again!"
I remember feeling so jarred the first time everyone in my sightline had masks on. It was a pre-school class. Kids holding a rope as they crossed the street. A teacher at the front of the line and a teacher at the back. And they all wore masks. The sight of these little tiny people holding a rope and all wearing little tiny masks felt apocalyptic.
I live on the Chicago river, and as I write there's a party boat floating my way. Music blasting, people singing, cheering. The sounds of joy! I have missed that. I will never, ever call the police ever again about noise complaints of party boats on the river. (Yes, I was *that* person.) The silence last year was too quiet -- and meant we were in grave trouble.
When you have a family member who requires extra and specialized support, you learn not to sweat the small stuff. You also learn how much small stuff is out there. A heap. This pandemic has reinforced that for me. I have a feeling when I'm upset about something, I'll be saying to myself well into the future, "It could be worse. There could also be a pandemic."