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Samantha joins the celebration and stands a good six feet behind Elizabeth's birthday sign.

It’s been a week of zoom meetings, telecommunication meetings and even some fun.

The fun came in on April 16 when we celebrated my daughter Elizabeth’s birthday —  a “landmark” one. The celebration began by having a huge sign placed at dawn on my lawn that read “HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELIZABETH.”

My daughter Samantha placed the order for the sign and we gave them an art deco design order. It was like little elves arriving because when I opened my door at 8 a.m., they had the sign sitting boldly on sticks into my grass. When my daughter saw it, the smile on her face lit up the world for me and my grandkids.

Since celebrating birthdays the old fashioned way — with dozens of family and friends gathering together — is over, I experienced a new kind of celebration for my daughter and son-in-law Spencer’s April 19 birthday. Creative minds enabled us to celebrate in new ways.

Birthday girl Elizabeth adored her virtual party.

As I stood on my lawn at a designated time, I suddenly turned to see down my block, there before my eyes were rows after rows of cars with horns honking and kids almost falling out of windows and sunroofs to celebrate! 

The cars were lined up as far as my eyes could see. I felt tears coming down my cheeks because I loved their smiles, laughs, posters and balloons all streaming from their cars. The joy and positive energy they brought brightened the day beyond my expectations. 

After Elizabeth’s friends’ cars had passed, then came the cars with Josh, Tracy and his family, followed by Samantha, Spencer and her kids.

The slowly passing parade of friends ended with my kids stopping their cars and getting out to celebrate while keeping their distance.

I loved seeing 7-year-old Hudson doing cartwheels competing with his 8-year-old cousin Addy across the street. Little 4-year-old Sloane found fun by running up and down my across-the-street neighbor’s lawn. It’s remarkable that such a simple thing can bring kids so much fun. Their joy kept smiles on all of our faces. It felt so good to laugh!

A few days later, we all gathered in our cars to do a drive-by at Spencer’s birthday celebration. Samantha placed a chair for me on her walkway close to everyone, but far enough away to be safe.

But the reality of life during this COVID-19 pandemic soon kicked in.

Hours after the joyous celebration, I learned that Brooklyn Judge Noach Dear, a delightful and devoted community leader and Supreme Court Judge, had succumbed to the virus. As did his colleague, Judge Johnny Lee Baynes. So sad to lose such great minds.

Losing so many reminds us that we must stay vigilant and that isolation is a safety net for ourselves and our loved ones. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it to stay alive and open our eyes to another day.

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