Two hundred and twelve days and nights.
We had not seen each other in person for 212 days and nights, if my math is correct. My dear bride has resided in an assisted living facility for more than two years. For most of that time, until this past March, we saw each other virtually every day, playing cards, swapping news of family, enjoying each other’s company.
The Covid-19 pandemic put an end to such pleasures. To its credit, the staff of this compassionate, well-run facility, has wisely taken steps to keep its residents and employees free of infection. That has meant an end to in-person visits for these seven months, these 212 days and nights, until last week.
Now, family members may phone for reservations for 30-minute visits with their loved ones, outside, in the parking lot, as long as the weather cooperates. We sit facing each other in chairs spaced several feet apart. Everyone wears masks, of course. No direct contact is permitted, absolutely no touching, no hugging or kissing. Gifts are handed off to a staff member, who delivers them to the resident after the visit ends. Visitors sign in and receive a generous squirt of hand sanitizer.
Conversation during our first such visit was a challenge. Natural sounds of the outside world intruded, and our attempts to communicate competed with the conversation of a neighboring family visitor and resident. Betsy’s failing hearing contributed to the problem, too.
But we gazed at each other’s smiles and basked in the pure joy of seeing each other, finally.
We have scheduled more such visits, of course, including two this week as Betsy’s birthday approaches. We are informed that beginning next week, as the weather cools, these family visits will continue indoors, in a special meeting space.
Someday Betsy and I will touch each other again. Will we wait another 212 days and nights? Probably that and more. It will be worth the wait.