I just felt like I needed to write something out.
I am naturally extremely cynical and pessimistic. I dislike people on the whole. I am not the kind of person who responds well to exhortations that I express an “attitude of gratitude.” But even though the past two and a half years have been unspeakably awful for a lot of people, they have actually been pretty damned good for me — and I need to acknowledge that.
My mom had fallen and been on the floor for at least a day if not longer in November of 2019. I found her on a Thursday, lying on the floor next to her bed. She ended up in the hospital while a doctor spoke gravely to my brother and me in a manner that suggested that he did not expect her to survive. She had two extremely severe pressure wounds — one between her shoulderblades and one at the small of her back that was so severe that it was called “unstageable.”
She spent several months in a nursing facility that was very near to where I was working at the time. I was able to work and visit her every night.
I was unsatisfied with that job and obtained another much better paying and more enjoyable job with a fantastic team. After driving home every night, I was still able to stop by and spend time with my mom every night.
I was however driving a very long way to my new job and knew that my mom could not go back to her old house and would have to move in with me. I found a new, nicer apartment very close to my new job and — I am not making this up — moved in the weekend before lockdown started.
The very day the lockdown started, my mom was discharged. Her house sold on the same day. I picked her up and was able to get her into my new apartment — with her own bedroom — right under the wire. If it had happened one day later, I would not even have been able to visit her anymore.
And what’s more, WFH started that very day. So I had no need to worry about getting home care at all, beyond visits from her wound care nurses for the first few months. She was very independent, relatively speaking — continent and only mildly foggy, which enabled me to work well and for long hours and still cook for her, make sure she ate, and keep an eye on her myself. She even recuperated spectacularly well from her pressure wounds.
I also very, very much enjoyed WFH because I am a natural hermit and probably on the spectrum, so I was able to get far more done without distraction and with more socially structured zoom meetings. I enjoyed the company of my team, and we all had the benefit of working for an unbelievably skilled, driven, and wonderful boss who truly has a gift for creating a cohesive, supportive team. She taught me more about project management than any dozen other bosses ever have and improved my confidence beyond anything I thought possible. (Yes, she’s very woo — she’s also a marvelous, extremely high-quality human being, and if the woo works for her, then that’s just fine.)
Then … my old job in California called and wanted me back, literally just as I became aware that the project I was on at my pandemic job was probably not going to survive the new budget. The pandemic had taught my old beloved workplace in CA that remote work was just fine — all you had to do was hire a bunch of super-committed workaholics.
So I got — and once again, I am not making this up — a 50% raise, and began working for the CA nonprofit company I had loved so very much and wanted to retire from before I had to move back home to be present for my mom.
In short, I had my cake and ate it, too. Several times. And it was a really good cake.
Then around Memorial Day 2022, my mom had to go into the hospital and then hospice when her colon cancer recurred.
And because I was now working on CA time, I was able to visit with her for an hour every day every morning in a hospice that was three miles from my apartment, and still work a full 8 hours for the company that valued me so much that seven years after I had to leave, they asked me back.
And on top of it all, my mom was mobile and able to walk for all but the last two-ish weeks of her life, and she passed without pain! And I was there, and my cousin and his wife were there when it happened.
I mean, come on. That is an almost unbelievable string of good fortune, especially considering that so many industries were damaged by the pandemic, and so very many people were killed.
If you lost a friend or family member and right now, you want to punch me in the face, I get it. But I needed to type this out to remind myself that during this past two and a half years that have proven so painful for so many, I have enjoyed a run of good luck almost beyond imagining.
The “attitude of gratitude” business has often struck me as a form of denial and delusion. But it would be delusional for me not to express gratitude at the ridiculous good fortune I’ve enjoyed during a period of history when so many other people have been struck by poverty, evicted, and lost their jobs or even their lives. To not express gratitude in the face of that would be obscene.
Anyhow. Back to Debussy.