Sorrow and Sweetness
I couldn’t bring myself to write last week. The conversations—if you can call them that—with Mom were just too depressing. Mom is isolated in her room. She is sleeping most of her days, and she is unable to focus on our faces when we video chat.
Her schedule remains as close to the same as it was before the isolation. Morning routine and breakfast; a 10:00 a.m. snack; walking for exercise; lunch; nap; tea at about 4:00 p.m.; another round of walking; then dinner and bed. It’s those in-between times that we worry about. How does she fill them? Our fleeting conversations are less than stellar though she does still nod her head to our loud, out-of-tune singing. Her headphones have been deemed too problematic as there is the necessity of many different staff members touching them to place them on her ears.
I think we’ve been calling less because there is this sense that our calls don’t make a significant difference. They can’t penetrate her isolation either physically or emotionally. The one good thing is that my husband Jeff found a small speaker with a slot for the memory card that holds all her music. The card can be transferred from the headphones to the speaker and the speaker can be left in her room with little effort and less handling by staff.
A few hours after we delivered the device, our favorite nurse sent us a video of Mom singing along to Doris Day’s perky “Que Sera Sera,” with closed eyes and completely out of tune but present!
In the larger scope of things, Israel is contemplating a complete shutdown over the upcoming three weeks of holidays. I realize that our worries for Mom are comparably small in this context. I have such mixed feelings about another closure. On the one hand, it would be amazing to have the whole country on the same page again. On the other, individuals who own and work in small businesses will suffer financially. Selfishly, I personally need them to stay open as we finish the renovations to our house.
As we approach the Jewish New Year, it is hard to imagine what is in store for all of us. A friend’s beloved daughter is trying to plan her wedding not knowing if halls will be open or how many guests she’ll be allowed to invite. Another friend just lost her husband after an eight year battle with dementia. When I visited her she told me that the big win was that he did not die from any Corona complications.
We are cut off from so many aspects of our lives pre-Corona. Our social networks, our family, our places of employment, our selves.
If I have a new year’s resolution, it is to bravely step forward in this new reality with aplomb despite what it may throw our way. It is to ride the waves of emotion that seem to ebb and flow with such fierceness and intensity as if I were a champion surfer. And to accept that what happens next is all in God’s hands.
Here’s praying that the coming year will be kinder than this one.
Cooking is sometimes a chore and sometimes such a honeyed release. As I plan for our small, family-oriented Rosh Hashanah bash, my daughter and I are excited to introduce a few new recipes to our repertoire. Here’s a tasty sheet pan chicken dish that’s perfect for inviting in a sweet new year.
Roast Chicken with Plums
I decided to skin my chicken before I cooked it even though the recipe didn’t call for that. Chock it up to trying to be a little health conscious. The choice is up to you.
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 or 10 pieces and skinned
2 Tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed if possible)
1 tsp lemon zest
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp date honey
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 ripe plums, pitted and sliced
1 red onion, sliced into wedges
1 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup fresh mint, basil, cilantro and/or parsley, chopped for garnish
Grate lemon for zest then squeeze for juice. In a large bowl, combine lemon, zest, garlic, honey, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add chicken and plums and coat thoroughly. Marinate for up to two hours in fridge. Preheat oven to 425° F / 218° C. Toss in onions. Cover pan with baking paper then spread chicken on pan with plums and onions. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme. Bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add fresh spices for garnish right before serving.
Photo by Liora Green