No doubt most people are familiar with the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” It’s a notion that’s been with us for a very, very long time. Longer, I suspect, even than recorded memory.

A quick search of internet sources reveals that this idea first found written expression over two thousand years ago. The Roman Poet Sextus Propertius wrote, semper in absentes felicior aestus amantes. And for those not fluent in Latin, just know that this version is a little bit spicy. Later expressions toned it down a bit. In the 17th century, Englishman Thomas Overbuy wrote, “Absence doth sharpen love, presence strengthens it.” And his contemporary James Howell put it this way, “Distance sometimes endears friendship, and absence sweetens it.”

All of these notions emphasize one positive aspect of a larger, challenging reality. When we are kept apart from those we care about, we suffer. Charles M. Schultz creator of Peanuts captured this fuller picture when we had Charlie Brown say, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it sure makes the rest of you lonely.”

Yet all this is preamble to a piece of good news we are delighted to share. Since January, The New Jewish Home has been operating as two separate facilities. The Sutro building became the COVID Recovery Unit and the Friedman and Frank buildings were kept separate. No staff could work between the two. Departments split themselves in pieces. Co-workers couldn’t connect as they used to. Families with loved ones in Sutro had greater obstacles to overcome and more limits constraining their connections to patients receiving excellent care there.

Well, today we officially have no COVID positive patients or residents at The New Jewish Home. And at 2pm we will reopen the doors between Friedman and Sutro and become, again, one facility.

We offer our deep thanks and appreciation to all those who made the journey to Sutro. And we rejoice to be able to see you again, face to face and not just zoom to zoom or screen to screen. Patients continuing to receive care in Sutro can now have in person visits in the same way that other non-quarantined patients and residents can.

For sure, the pandemic is not yet over. We must continue scrupulously to wash our hands, to wear our masks, and most of all, to encourage people to become vaccinated. BUT, we can also celebrate this joyous milestone along the way.

Once again, we are all together. And you know that feels…

Reunited and it feels so good.