The sweetness of re-entry

Mary Ann Hughes

Grace Notes

For about 13 months, my only outing was a weekly drive with my husband to get takeout at a fish restaurant. The drive always made me so happy. I felt like a big fat golden retriever hanging out the car window taking in the sights.

All my other activities pretty much evaporated.

For years, I have belonged to three groups of women who are very important to me. Until 2020, I didn’t realize how important.

As the pandemic widened, we tried to stay connected via zoom meetings, emails and texting. It was really all we had, so I didn’t complain.

Then in the late spring, as the local crisis seemed to be easing, we started talking about getting together in person.

The Goldens have been meeting since the mid-1990s. It’s become a spiritual-direction group, offering us the opportunity for intense sharing. I didn’t realize how much I loved these dear women until I walked into our reunion this March. I stood on the landing of my friend’s kitchen, and I cried at the sight of their faces.

I’ve been in a Bible Study since the mid-2000s. I very much took our gatherings for granted. At one of our recent get-togethers, they sat in a semi-circle across from me. Some were holding their bibles; others were knitting. The room was dimly lit; and for a brief moment, it was quiet. I wished with all my heart that I had a camera to capture their sweet faces.

My Book Club has been together since the early 2000s. Our most notable achievement has been reading all of Wendell Berry’s novels. We stayed in touch during the worst days of the pandemic, thanks to the magical technology of Zoom.

We recently met on my patio for the first time in months. It was a perfect southern Indiana June evening. As we sat together, our faces were lit by a fading sun and a few candles. We talked about important things and unimportant things too. Just being together was so lovely.

Perhaps the sweetest moments came on Father’s Day. For quite a while, my Evansville family gathered for Sunday dinners. And then we didn’t. This Father’s Day, we shared a meal together for the first time in a long time.

We laughed and talked and relished our time together. My husband played “claw” with our grandson. My daughter-in-law and I set the table. My son did a chore for me.

They say you don’t know what you have until you lose it. Or almost lose it.

Now I know that’s true.

I had so many wonderful things in my life, until I didn’t. And now I do.