The breakfast buffet is no longer self-service. It’s allowed to be unmasked to eat there. My family congregates and it’s so easy to forget – to genuinely forget – that COVID was and is.
This is why we don’t learn lessons from one pandemic to the next. Because “normal” reasserts itself so quickly.
We head to the church. Catholic mass is both unfamiliar and familiar. This church where my cousins attended most of their young lives and we came with them as guests on occasion. This church where we had services for my grandmother, my uncle, now my aunt.
After the service we proceed to the Cape, to Massachusetts National Cemetery, where my aunt will be interred beside my uncle. This service is quicker – there are more than 12 services on the board when we arrive.
Then back again, less harrowing against the holiday traffic, to rejoin the family for a meal. I’ve eaten with other people more in these 3 days than in the year+ before and realizing that makes it weird again.
But it’s nice to see my family. It happens too infrequently.
After the event closes, my sister’s family starts their trek home. It’s long and rainy and busy in the expected places but my BIL navigates them home.
We start back towards the hotel but miss out exit and realize we’re heading towards my grandparents old place. We swing through and every corner is a memory for my father of his childhood: the kids that lived on that corner, the house they used to shovel snow for.
My grandmother’s house is the same – a different color but recognizable. The yard less so – the gardens, the pine tree and the lilacs, and the overgrown section all completely different under new care.
Down the street a ways, more memories for my dad, a couple of corners and we stop at the cemetery where my Uncle Don, both my grandparents, and my baby cousin rest. It was a small cemetery then. It’s sprawling now, and we can’t find them. In a non-COVID time we might inquire, but now there’s no one to ask.
I have the stray thought to call out the window to them. I suppose that won’t help.
Dinner is just ordered-in appetizers to share and a bit of wine. Tomorrow we’ll start the long slog home.