Our refrigerator died during the first week of the COVID-19 quarantine. You know, the refrigerator holding our double amount of groceries for our family of six. We have a small extra refrigerator in our garage which we transferred items to, but, true story, my daughter and son, being ever so helpful at the ages of 9 and 7, bumped into each other while transferring frozen blueberries and a glass jar of Frank’s RedHot Sauce. Glass shattered, the hot sauce made the scene more horrific than it actually was (thankfully no one was injured and certainly no blood to be found), and we inherited, possibly forever, a giant blue stain on our garage floor.

The first refrigerator delivered to our home — complete with Clorox wipe-down to kill germs, mind you — had a small dent in the side, and to my surprise, was too large for the space. We had it for a week before the second refrigerator was delivered. This refrigerator sounded like a dishwasher, a loud dishwasher. It had a gash in the freezer door, and to my surprise, was too small for the space. We had it for a week as well.

The third refrigerator was delivered before the third week of quarantine. It, following the rule of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, was just right: quiet, not damaged, and the correct size.

It seemed trivial to be online shopping for refrigerators and becoming frustrated with delivery trucks and damaged goods. It seemed wrong to complain about not having the space to fit all our groceries when we had groceries, and plenty of them.

Yet, having a problem to fix and resolve was a good practice for me. I needed a break from the news, the constant updates, and the growing sense of abnormality. It was grounding to get on my hands and knees and sweep up blueberries covered in sauce and glass. It felt normal to talk with customer service representatives over the phone about counter depth measurements and delivery dates.

I cleaned up our messes — and we had many more to be sure — gladly. I kept repeating to myself, “I’m not stuck at home. I’m safe at home,” an Instagram post I read earlier in the week.

There were moments during the first weeks of quarantine when I needed to cuddle with my kids and count my blessings. Other times, the tears came out of nowhere and I coveted a nap. On occasion, I needed to kickbox the life-size inflatable football player my sons were given for Christmas to complete my stress cycle. I’m here to report that I did not deflate the poor man.

We took so many walks our dog collapsed into his crate each night. I dreamt about the flourless chocolate cake at my favorite local restaurant; the one I enjoy every year on my birthday. I could only laugh at my Pinterest fail to make a cardboard boat for my son’s fourth grade project on the Boston Tea Party. I cried watching “The Today Show,” seeing the marks left on doctors and nurses faces from wearing masks for hours on end. I made sure to FaceTime our families and send “how ya holding up?” texts to my friends.

Our family learned that we can live on a lot less; that our healthcare professionals are the true heroes; that our teachers are amazing (and sorely underpaid); that the outdoors can help clear the mind; that we need to hug and laugh often; that technology is not always a negative thing; and that we can do hard things.

When this is all over, may we never take for granted a loud restaurant, a crowded gym, a morning commute, extra refrigerators or waiting for the school bus. As for me, I’ll savor every bite of that decadent, warm, chocolate cake when my beloved French restaurant reopens and my husband and I can walk in, hand-in-hand.

Julie Hilton

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