SPAIN, Paz Leiva •
In a few days it will be my birthday again. Years back, I knew by now who would come, how many of us would be there for lunch, for dinner. —
This year is rare and different from any other. Even different from birthdays spent away from home, in which, for lack of a mobile phone, I had to phone home to be congratulated. My birthday usually falls in Lent, sometimes even on a Friday – the menu gets complicated, I’ll have to think about serving fish- and other times in the middle of Easter.
I don’t have a shopping list. There is no need to think about what everyone likes for the appetizer. There will be some Camporreal olives left in the fridge: the grandchildren are not coming. I’ll put a couple of “tapas” before lunch and my husband and I will toast alone with a good glass of wine, for one more year.
I won’t get any presents and I won’t choose my favorite friends (who are all my grandchildren at the same time) to bring the cake with me. And this year, what cake shall we eat? I like chestnut cake. I’ve indulged myself at times, even though I know it’s not everyone’s favorite. I warn you: next year you won’t get away with it, there will be chestnut cake.
But I’ll see you…
This year a homemade cake will be enough; for the candles, no problem, it’s been years since all the candles fit, one for the units and another for the tens is enough, and, if we don’t have enough, just one, in the middle.
I won’t get any presents, but I’ll see you at a Zoom or video call. And I will have a gift for everyone: the effort I am making all these weeks not to leave home. Those who know me know that I don’t mind being at home. I like it. But because of my temperament, because of my structure, I would like to be on the front line fighting against the virus; organizing some citizen action to help those who are having the worst time; working until I can’t work anymore. But I won’t… because being apart has never brought us so close.
Taking care of myself so that I don’t give more problems to the health system
This year my obligation is to take care of myself. We Schoenstatters call it “Capital of Grace”. We grandparents should not be exposed to the virus. And that’s what we do. To not give the family any more worries. To not give more problems to the health care, because in the hospitals of Madrid they already prioritize who to treat, taking into account the age, because there are no means to take care of everyone. How envious I am of the doctors – who are several years older than I am – they return to their positions to work again! As in the “total war,” everyone from medical students to retired doctors are being called up.
This year, on my birthday, after our busy schedule to keep the spirit alive as much as possible, we will visit a museum; go to the theater or the opera. And we will go to the window at eight o’clock at night to applaud the hospital staff, the policemen, the stockiest and the supermarket cashiers… and we will see the family. Blessed be God, who has allowed inventions as good as today’s communications.
Together we have never lost
We are sending ourselves songs and songs that are circulating these days with messages of encouragement, of joy, of hope. We are rehearsing. Just like other years we have rehearsed for the Offices and the Easter Vigil.
And this year, which is rare and different from any other, the repertoire for Easter will also be rare and different, but we will celebrate Easter and sing it out loud in a session of Zoom, without the Easter Sunday lamb; without getting together, each one at home, but together… because “together we have never lost”.
Original: Spanish 25.03.20. Translated by: Maria Aragón, Monterrey, México.