I have been looking for someone to clean my house.

During this pandemic, I have decluttered, organized, rearranged, lifted, swept and shifted. The suddenness and endlessness of the lockdown magnifies the undone as will as the unknown.

Flattening the curve has meant that my laundry room has new shelves that were initially stocked for a 1980’s style doomsday, but showed its worth in an epic 2021 winter deep freeze. Additionally, every room has gotten a good vacuuming. However, no room has been deep-cleaned since Willa.

I have had a hard time scheduling house cleaners. My grandmother was the help. She cleaned the homes of wealthier white women in our town. As a young girl, my mom helped the more middle class ladies for a few pennies. My grandmother kept her own house immaculate. The interior of her apartment was as spectacular as the ones she cleaned.

Not just anyone can help me.

I would feel so uneasy having someone clean my house that I would try to clean with them. At one time, the women, like my grandmother, were not seen as people, just servants who should be grateful for a job with no benefits. When grandmother found the white hood in the closet, she had to be grateful.

My grandmother was my best friend. She was witty and stylish and beautiful. She was an honest Catholic; trustworthy. For me, I have to know who helps me. Willa happily obliged. Though she was as old as my grandmother should be, Willa cared for me and my family. I knew her from church. She sang in the choir; dutifully raised her granddaughter; and cleaned that church kitchen like no one else.

The last time my house was cleaned right, Willa cleaned it perfectly.

I knew my mother and my grandmother were proud. That kind of clean would last for months upon months.

I have had that feeling again. The house needs Willa, but Willa won’t be able to help me. She died last week. The pandemic has been devastating to my community. I feel like I lose a person every few weeks.

Willa is gone. The pandemic is still here.