A few nights ago, I was checking in with a friend about his small business — which had to survive Hurricane Harvey not so long ago — and he used the phrase, “in times like these.”
As if we have ever lived through a time like this.
A pandemic. A global pandemic.
How can this be real?
For a few moments, as I was cleaning up toys and washing dishes, which I do every night after putting the kids to bed, I had the strangest feeling. That this wasn’t real at all. Not exactly a dream, and definitely not fake, but just… not real. Almost like something I had read about in a novel.
It’s easy to forget — or choose not to believe — when the enemy you’re fighting is invisible. When it doesn’t touch you directly.
I had to remind myself of China. Of Italy. Of Seattle and New York City. Of the points on the map getting closer and closer to home. Of the numbers getting larger. Of the personal accounts I’ve been reading on Twitter. Of my healthcare friends on the front lines.
Then it sunk in again. This is real. This is happening. We are living through history. A generation-defining moment. It’s not end of days, but I don’t know what the other side of this looks like.
I don’t even know if there is an “other side.”
My neighbor keeps posting pictures of his daughter playing in the big, wooded park near our homes. She examines a sunset-red fungus growing on a fallen tree trunk. She shows off a leaf. She poses in her knit hat and woolen gloves, smiling.
My husband said he hopes that IB remembers some of what’s going on. At first I stared at him like he was insane. Then I thought about it some more.
Maybe it’s not so crazy. Because how our kids are experiencing this time is so different from how we are. We adults are anxious, frustrated, exhausted. But most children — the young ones, anyway — are just excited to be home from school. To spend more time with their parents. To play and laugh and be held.
It’s kind of wonderful? Because it’s a reminder that even in the worst of times, there is joy.
(And for the people who are not safe in their homes, who are stuck with angry voices or hands… my heart breaks.)
I keep hearing that by the end of this, we will all know someone who has died from COVID-19.
I fear that it’s not going to be who, but rather how many.
RB is nearly 8 months old now, and every night, he falls asleep in my arms. This is an indulgence, a bad habit I don’t want to give up yet. Those precious minutes after he falls asleep, but before I transfer him to the crib, are a form of self-care for me. I watch him, eyes closed, simply breathing, wholly at peace. I try to absorb that.
If I’m feeling bold, I might nuzzle his soft, fat cheek, or kiss his nose.
Yes, even in times like these, there is joy.