My mom has reached the age which is the average life span for an American woman. She's white, been financially secure since her 30s, still married to my father, has not smoked since 1986. So her life expectancy is probably 7-8 years higher than her current age.

Seven or eight years is nothing. And she's just lost an entire one of them to this bullshit pandemic. She's vaccinated now, as is my Dad, but we've been talking about the lost time. What it means for her, as she's keenly aware of how little she has left. What it means for her only grandchild who spent the first year as a teen like this. What it means for me, a person who's 50, who lost an ordinary year. Not one of the easily-numbered ones I have left. Not one of the exciting new ones.

But mostly she talks at angles about what it's like to have lost one of so few remaining years. What it's like to know all her accumulated things are of limited utility to me and my sister, no matter how much we love her or how fondly we remember them. 

When my first grandmother died, I was sitting through finals my last year of law school. There was little value in postponing them, so I did not go home. My mother and my sister cleaned out her house rather quickly, my sister looking carefully for the one thing we both wanted: a pendant she'd worn in the 70's. A large crystal fishbowl, studded with tiny goldfish. She'd hold it up to the light, pull the chain along behind it, showing us how the fish would swim.

They did not find the pendant. 


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