I’ve been walking a lot lately. I haven’t had a lot of interest in running, although I’m sure I will at some point, but right now, it’s about being outside and enjoying the peace that comes with exercise rather than any need to push myself. I make my coffee, lace up my sneakers, and unless it’s raining heavily, go as soon as it’s light out for about 3 miles. No music or podcasts, just my thoughts and the scenery around me. I never grow tired of the landscape around me, and every day I notice something new – the moss growing up a tree trunk, the way a tree leans over a small creek, birds. It’s a time for me to collect my thoughts and prepare for the day.
Before I go though, I log the day’s counts in my diary. The number infected in Massachusetts, the US, Globally. Recovered. Deaths.
I don’t do it to be morbid, I do it to ensure I remember. To hold myself accountable for my memory. Years from now I may forget how the body count doubled in just a week, how 1000 died in a single day here in the US, the terror I feel knowing my sister, a nurse, is treating the ill with a limited amount of protective gear, like so many other medical professionals. How completely exhausting it is to weigh every decision to go out as a matter of life and death. How, at the beginning it seemed like a slow threat, but then one that advanced so rapidly it was hard to figure out what reaction was correct at any given moment. How much time I spend praying that this horrific virus passes us by, and our loved ones, our friends, our community. How I got upset at my daughter for not helping make her bed, which wasn’t what mattered, it was my fear that maybe I wouldn’t be there to do it for her in the future. How much I fear that, most of all.
And how little control I feel about all of it.
It’s important to remember this stuff. Someday, when the veil of history comes down, and it’s ‘this happened, and people died’ it’s important to remember the stories of the people that were impacted by job loss and food insecurity, by illness, that died too early. To remember it as it really was, and to tell the story that way, not through the haze that time eventually puts on all of our memories.
But it’s also important to remember the moments. I admit, as stressful as it is for all of us to juggle work and kids home all the time, I love them being there. I love being home with my family every single day. In early March, as the virus closed in and schools started letting out to ‘disinfect’, ultimately to never reopen, my son and I went to the grocery store. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have brought him, but my memory of him grabbing his own basket and going to select the things important to him is one I love right now. I remember the worry and not a small bit of admiration at my fiercely independent 7 year old trotting down the aisle, determined to contribute. “Did I do good Mom?” he said, as he came back with ice cream, a couple bags of orange chicken, cups of ramen, and frozen edamame. “Yes, baby, you did perfect.”. He was so proud to have helped us be supplied with the things he liked. I’ve always loved grocery shopping, and it seems that I’ve passed that on to my younger child. We always come home with stuff I might not buy, but he views the grocery store much like I do, as an endless wonderland of options.
Only a few weeks ago, but it feels like a lifetime. I want to remember too, that the world still turned green, that the forsythia started to bloom, and daffodils appeared in the yard, that spring is here, regardless of the horror outside our yard. I need to remember the good things and the beauty as well, when the world paused for a while.
Tonight we start up a new tradition. Dinner and a movie, with the 5 people allowed in our world right now – Eli, myself, the kids and their Dad. I’m cooking Pumpkin Lasagna with Fontina and Sage, and we’ll grill Rosemary Ranch Chicken, add a salad and some cut veggies, and maybe make Pac Man cupcakes with the leftover frosting and cupcakes from Eli’s birthday. We might do a little Just Dance on the Nintendo. We will absolutely laugh.
Above all things, I want to remember how much gratitude I have for my amazing and limitlessly patient husband, for my children, for my life.
I will remember this, someday in a later time as one of pain and fear for all of us in the world, but also as a time when we remembered what really mattered. Each other.