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Sharon Randall column: The bubble of life

By Sharon Randall

So, how big is your bubble?

That’s a strange question I never dreamed I’d ask anyone.

But lately, it seems, I’m asking lots of strange questions, mostly of my husband. Things like:

“Nice mask. Which bank are you planning to rob?”

Or “I just washed my hands for 20 seconds in soap and hot water. Don’t they look clean?”

Or “Do you think maybe we’re standing a tiny bit closer than six feet from each other?”

Three months ago, before the coronavirus quarantine changed life as we knew it, none of those questions would’ve made any sense. Actually, they still don’t.

The bubble question is a new one for us. A “bubble” is the number of people with whom you’re in person-to-person contact on a regular basis. It includes people you live with, or anyone else you’re in touch with up close and in the flesh.

It also includes every person that your “bubble mates” include in their bubbles, whether you ever spend time with that person or not. It’s like a bubble machine at a kid’s birthday party. The bubbles just keep on bubbling.

For three months, my sole bubble mate has been my husband. He has put up with a lot, God bless him. So have I.

We’ve kept in touch with family and friends via phone calls and FaceTime. But for the first time in our lives, we’ve had no close in-person visits with anyone other than each other.

I could elaborate on that, but I won’t. If you’re quarantining with someone, you probably don’t need any elaboration.

This week, however, we decided it was time to expand our in-person bubble. For me, it was not a moment too soon.

Mid-week, my daughter, her husband and their 8-year-0ld, Henry, joined us on our patio for a take-out dinner.

My husband and I wore masks (except while eating.) But when they arrived, instead of staying six feet apart, I opened my arms and told Henry, “Get over here!”

“What?” he said, laughing, “I can really hug you?”

“Yes!” I said. So he threw his arms around me and we held each other like two people who had been far too long apart.

Three days later, my son, his wife and their three little ones joined us for pizza on the patio.

Again, my husband and I wore masks and we all hugged. Randy is almost 10. When he wrapped his arms around me, he said, “Nana, I’ve missed you much!”

Wiley, 7, buried his face in my chest and whispered over and over, “Nana, Nana, Nana!”

And Eleanor, who is 5, hugged me hard and said, “Look at my toes, Nana. Aren’t they pretty? Mom polished them with two different colors!”

It’s hard for children to spend three months without a hug from their nana. And it’s heartbreaking for a nana — or for most anyone on Earth — to spend a day without a hug, if only from a total stranger.

Next weekend, I hope to hug a few trees in Yosemite National Park, one my favorite places on Earth that I definitely want to include in my bubble.

And from there, I plan to go visit my older son and his wife and their 1-year-old, Jonah.

I can hardly wait.

My husband and I will never want to risk passing the virus to a loved one, or to anyone, ever.

So we’re still being careful, still covering our faces, still washing our hands and social distancing when necessary.

But we’re expanding our bubble to include our children and grandchildren. And hugs. And laughs. And lots of stories. And pizza on the patio.

It’s a beautiful bubble, bright and shining and fragile as an ornament on a Christmas tree.

I wish you could see it.

And I wish you could be in it.

I’m praying that one day soon it will hold, once again, the whole, wide, wonderful world.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924, or on her website www.sharonrandall.com

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