Day 1

Today is Day 1 of the Italian schools and universities being shut down for the next 10 days or more. All 6 kids are at home, and Ron is at work but not having students on campus anymore. What a shock! High schoolers across the area seem thrilled that there is no school and are out having a grand time; and yet it is hard to celebrate too much given the dire circumstances that caused the closure. I have to recalibrate daily: Is this an apocalyptic pandemic? Are millions of people going to die? Is the economy about to collapse? Or should we encourage governments to do all they can to contain the virus but realize that it is not a serious threat, all things considered? After all, there are still well under 100 deaths in Italy (yesterday the count was 79). For the economic hit Italy is experiencing, I am surprised with how seemingly mild the actual virus is. They say it will not be stamped out completely in the next few weeks or months, then will disappear when the flu season is over, and then will return next flu season but will be much less threatening next time around. Are we almost done, then, with a life-endangering threat to babies and the elderly, once the winter is passed? So hard to know.
   I am indeed glad that the government closed the schools as well as other crowded locations like cinemas, sports arenas, etc. I think with two weeks of not spreading, the virus can well be contained and the numbers will begin to stagnate and then decrease. I see it as a good move now, for the sake of preserving the summer’s tourist industry which is so important to Italy. For us personally, we are hoping that the Summer Rome Program will continue and not be canceled. So anything to help that good end.
   How are we handling it? Day 1 began with everyone sleeping in, and then Leigh making the family French toast; Ron going to work, then time for me with the kids, exercise, chores, and Annie and Sebastian playing dress up and imaginary games all day long, ending with a talent show. Jacob sat down with me and we talked for several hours about life and his upcoming departure for college (boo hoo!). Mary went out with friends in Frascati for the afternoon and then brought them here for dinner.
      I bravely cooked Mary and her guests spaghetti bolognese, fearing a complete slam that it was not real Italian food but an Americanized version. Italians are very specific about how they like a traditional meal prepared. Mary and Jacob said “no” to my cooking amatriciana or carbonara, since people here are oh-so-particular about how they like it prepared. But I got the go-ahead for bolognese. In my defense, I made the sauce homemade from scratch and cooked it for several hours before serving it, but I was sure the Italian kids would think something like “You never put oregano in bolognese” or something like that. The result? Mary came up to me later and told me that it was a big hit, that they admitted that it was in fact very good. They said it needed a little more salt, to which Mary responded by passing them the salt. The kids bemoaned her and told her never to shake salt on prepared food. The only way to salt pasta is to put it in the boiling water. If you put it on a prepared dish, it is too grainy. Well, you learn something new every day! These are sweet kids and I love having them here for the evening.
    Mary is having one of the girls spend the night; Sebastian and Annie are asleep on my floor; Charlie is snuggled next to Annie’s head; the tooth fairy must remember to come tonight for the tooth that Annie lost but then got lost again when Ron brought her mattress up to our room. Clare was very quiet today and Leigh just turned in after we had a delightful dinner with her; and Ron is fasting but still managed to put in a long work day.
    We have a rich life. I feel immensely blessed and deeply thankful for our health, our safety, our family, the beauty of our little home on this vineyard in this exquisite town. I know the world is having an unsettled time, and it may unsettle me a bit on the exterior. But deep down in the core of who I am, I love being a child of God, long for heaven, and expect this world to pass away sooner or later. I am glad my investment is not in this world but the next. How do you live, then? As St. Therese said, “Wherever you are be love in that place.” That is a wonderful approach to life in all its up’s, down’s and complexities. May it be so that we can be graced with love for God and one another, and may we relish each moment together.