And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

A couple days ago, I was sitting at my kitchen island, quietly eating lunch and reading, when a sudden squeal of feedback shrieked from down the hall, followed by a BA-WANG!

The dog fled up the stairs.

My daughter Olivia called, “I’m going to practice my electric guitar. I need to use my amp.”

I thought of my daughter’s other instruments. The sweet violin. The classic sound of acoustic guitar. The twinkly plunking of the ukulele.

But she was practicing the electric guitar.

“Okay,” I said.

Last semester, my daughter was in her dorm at college, happily moving through her freshman year. She brought all of her instruments with her, except for the electric guitar. Amps weren’t allowed in the dorm. And so the beloved pink electric guitar has been sitting, with its amp, in hibernation, at home. This semester, she’s still in college, still in her freshman year, but thanks to COVID-19, she’s back at home and her classes are all online.

So now, the electric guitar. A benefit she could reach for that wouldn’t be at college.

“Okay,” I said again. The dog remained upstairs. I munched on my egg salad as I listened to her twang a warm-up. And then…and then…

The First Noel.

I sat back. The First Noel, a Christmas carol, was being played on a pink electric guitar, drifting down my hallway, in April. During a pandemic. During a quarantine.

“Okay,” I said again.

You know, everything has just become surreal. Toilet paper disappearing moments after it is stocked on shelves. People wearing homemade masks, and those masks quickly becoming basically a fashion statement. All over Facebook, photographs of folks with masks, their eyes smiling above them. Eating dinner out…in. Dropping off my granddaughter’s Easter presents on her porch, then waving at her through the picture window and calling, “I love you.” Having to imagine the hug. Smiling at the photo my daughter-in-law sends me of Grandbaby Maya Mae holding the larger than life pink bunny, who she has named Bun Bun.

And now, The First Noel, on a pink electric guitar, in April, during a pandemic.

I sat a little longer and listened to the end of the song. I hummed along. Then Olivia went into a song I only know as the Baby Bumblebee song: “I’m bringing home a baby bumblebee! Won’t my mommy be so proud of me…”

And I laughed.

As she continued, playing a full concert of songs, most of which I didn’t recognize, I went on upstairs. It was my writing time, and so I worked on my new book, accompanied by the sound of my daughter’s musical talent. Her sense of humor. Her brilliance, which has lit up my day so many times before.

My shoulders relaxed. And for that time, there was no pandemic. There was no quarantine. There were no masks, no daily death count, no politicizing at the expense of people’s lives. There was just normal. Just the familiar.

My daughter reached for the familiar, and a familiar she wouldn’t have, if she wasn’t at home because of COVID-19.

And I reached for a familiar too, a familiar I wouldn’t have, if she wasn’t at home because of COVID-19.

Even if it was The First Noel on a pink electric guitar in April. During a pandemic.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Grandbaby Maya Mae with the pink bunny named Bun Bun.
The badass Olivia with her beloved pink electric guitar. The amp wasn’t included in the photo.

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