School started this week. Hard to believe. At work, we all talk about how short the winter break felt, how quickly we are back in the classroom, how much time the holidays eat. Honestly, I don’t feel I’ve had a break, though I did have time off. Two days after my last final, we packed the cats into the car and drove south. We spent nearly three weeks in Florida, where we ate an insane amount of sugar, attended a tree planting ceremony honoring Jesse’s dad, cried a lot, opened gifts, and then promptly got sick.

The virus, whatever it was, got everyone but Jesse. My parents, his mother, his sister, me, and my grandmother. One after the other, starting Christmas Eve. As most of you already know, my grandmother wound up in the hospital as a result. As official Patient Zero, I felt awful, worried sick. Fortunately, she’s home now, recovering.

So now we’re back in North Carolina, still recuperating, the semester already under way, and honestly the last two months feel like a blur to me. Unreal. How strange what has happened to us. All the illnesses, the loss, the travel. Sometimes I wonder, did it happen? Did it really happen?

We are doing our best to start the year off right. We are eating more vegetables. Cooking more. Taking walks around the neighborhood. Today, I slept in and lazed around, drinking coffee, reading. This afternoon, we played tennis, and then I took a nap with the cats. Tonight, we ate a creamy butternut squash soup and a big pile of green beans (a vegetarian day for the both of us).

Tonight, I feel restful, calm, satisfied. One step at a time, one day at a time. One meal at a time. We move forward. Still in a daze, still a little bewildered, but sure of one thing: every day counts.

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