Coronavirus stole my Thanksgiving. When my son tested positive, my extended family members canceled their trips. It robbed my Christmas. My husband's parents couldn't consider setting foot on a plane.
Even Easter, which held so much hope with increasing vaccinations, ended up a bust, with my nephew stranded abroad in mandatory quarantine and me stuck with a brimming basket of See's chocolate eggs, unhidden.
Let me just say, this soul-crushing pandemic better not destroy my Fourth of July.
I know I'm tempting fate here. But is it too much to ask, after so much collective loss, so much sacrifice, so much isolation, that, finally, we can celebrate a holiday together?
I'm pinning all my yearning, pleading, pent-up hopes on it.
I have it all planned.
My brother, Geordie, and his family are flying in from Colorado. My sister Suzanne and hers are driving up from Southern California. My brother Peter and his family live nearby. We will load up the station wagon and, with my 90-year-old mother in the back seat, head down to Monterey County, up a winding road into the Santa Lucia mountains, through the light and shadows of a redwood-studded canyon and, with groceries to last a week, navigate a rickety footbridge to the family cabin.
It's barely 650 square feet, perched on the edge of a creek that spills into a little lake stocked with fish, canoes and a swimming platform. My parents bought this place 20 years ago when my two brothers and sister and I were just starting our families. It's part of a 100-cabin community called San Clemente Rancho owned by the Dormody family, who clear the roads, maintain the hiking trails and keep a stash of life jackets at the lake.
My mom likes to describe it here as "one-step above camping." My dad wanted it to be our together place.
He and my oldest brother, Peter, rebuilt and shingled the 1960s-era cabin, expanding the loft to fit an extra bed and pushing out a wall to make more room at the dining table. It still has just one bedroom and one bathroom with an old tin shower. When the eight cousins were little, we somehow managed to sleep all 18 of us in here, wall to wall. Sleeping bags rolled out on the living room floor. Two of the cousins slept end-to-end on the window seat; another claimed the spot under the dining room table; at least one pair of adults hunkered down in the screened gazebo, where the wildlife sounds of slithering, creeping, and burrowing kept you up at night.