July in Quebec is always an idyllic time. It’s a month to savour the sun, warmth, a more relaxed lifestyle and daylight until almost 9 pm. But those aren’t the things that made it so special this year.
We spent July 1st , Canada Day, at a BBQ with friends. That may not sound special, but with COVID safety measures finally relaxed in Quebec, it was the first time in almost a year that we could be together. And it was perfect. The air was warm and dry, the crickets were chirping and our hosts’ garden was beautiful. Although not yet at its peak, it held the promise of blooms to come. The day lilies were growing tall and elegant, like ballerinas poised for a performance. The leaves of the black-eyed Susans were a deep, restful green and the white and green stripes of the hostas were like festive ribbon wrapped around the front yard.
As I sat, quietly sipping my wine and watching my life-long friends, I felt like I had been holding my breath and I could finally let it out in a long, slow exhale. It felt like coming home after being away for a long, long time.
A few days later, my kids came to the house for lunch for the first time in more than a year. I never thought I’d see the day when my own kids couldn’t come into our home. I still get a lump in my throat when I think about it. I’m not judging but I know families who felt safe enough to gather throughout the pandemic. But I have a 94-year-old mother who lives in a residence. The first wave in Quebec swept through seniors’ homes and left death in its wake. I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I was the one who exposed my Mom – and consequently others at the residence – to the virus because I flouted the rules. My son and daughter understood. So we went for walks or did driveway visits but it wasn’t the same.
It was a beautiful, hot, sunny day so we ate outside. But I kept finding excuses for them to come into the house. As they sat on the deck, I called to them from the kitchen, “Erik, could you come and get the plates to set the table please?” Or “Luce, can you come in and help me with dessert?” Then I’d watch as the patio door slid open and they stepped into the house. And there they were, standing in my kitchen. It was a something I’d seen hundreds of times before. But this time it was a precious gift I’d been wanting for so long.
I could tell you about other great things that happened in July like taking my bike out for a spin or Ben and I riding the trails on our horses. But, really, they wouldn’t hold a candle to having the people who are most special to me back in my life. So, good-bye, sweet July and hello August. I hope you have more wonderful things in store for us.