It’s no question. We are living in unprecedented times. (How many times have I heard that in the last couple weeks?) Like seriously… Un. Heard. Of. My big girls asked me when the last time something like this has ever happened. Never. There are so many questions.
What do we do now? What about school? What’s for snack? What about dance recital? Why is there no toilet paper? What’s for snack? Can I sleep in? What’s for snack?
I do not have answers for most of these questions. I just don’t know. I cannot tell which scientist/politician/doctor/website is telling the truth.
Is it just a bad flu? Does it only affect the elderly? How long does the virus live on surfaces? Do I need to cover my face in public?
The Man’s 40th birthday trip to Minnesota. Cancelled.
Wedding trip to Missouri. Cancelled.
Anna’s high school band/choir trip to Orlando (On which I was also set to go as a chaperone). Cancelled. (Will it be rescheduled? Maybe. Will I get my money back? Most likely not.)
My luggage is still neatly packed in the corner of the bedroom out of denial that this truly is happening. I am guilty of hoarding an unusually large amount of coffee, because I am pretty sure no wants to be quarantined with me otherwise. I am literally stringing together unorganized thoughts, because there is so much going on in my brain right now.
My four sweet girls are fighting copious amounts of emotions. They are 15, 13, 10, and 7. They miss their friends, teachers, dance, choir, enrichment classes, and youth group. Some are old enough to connect to friends via technology. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Some of their friends are home, too. Some of their friends are still going out and we wrestle with the questions of why we have chosen to stay home as much as possible. (Disclaimer: Iowa currently does not have an official shelter-in-place order.)
I watch the news just enough and bear witness to the chaos that seems to be overtaking places such as New York, California, and Washington. It would be easy to tune it all out and imagine we are on summer vacation. Minus the heat and the sun. The news betrays me, because here at home in Iowa, there are more COVID-19 cases reported every day. It feels like standing by and watching a tsunami inch closer with nowhere to run. I don’t really know how to do this.
I watch. I pray. I prepare.
I have now entered that sweet spot of life known as “middle age.” I am forty. I remember 9/11 well. I was in college in Minneapolis. I have often tried to explain to my children what it was like and they have always had a hard time understanding why it left such an impact even though it happened so far way… mostly in New York. I have tried to explain that crushing feeling of uncertainty, because back then, we didn’t know if it would just be New York. We were waiting to see what was next. Would it be me next? Would it be my city? Even though the circumstance is so incredibly different, THAT feeling of just not knowing is much the same. Daily, we work through all the feelings (because there are a lot these days). I said, “Remember when we talk about 9/11 and I try to explain what it felt like? THIS. This is pretty much what it felt like.”
And despite the fear and frustration about what we were all going through at the time, there was this sweet unity born out of crisis. For just a moment, Americans rallied together, because we were all suddenly in the same boat.
Similarly, beautiful things are coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amidst the inconveniences, each day there are stories of humanity rallying together to infuse joy and goodwill into our momentarily awkward existence.
- The man who bought a $300 gift card at the coffee shop and told all the healthcare workers to go get a treat on him.
- The teddy bears, rainbows, and Easter eggs in neighborhood windows.
- The Christmas lights on display in spring.
- The homegrown seamstresses making masks for healthcare workers who are in short supply.
- The teachers organizing drive-by parades through their student’s neighborhoods just to give a wave at an appropriate social distance (six feet, of course).
- The preschool teacher who dressed in a hot-dog costume to “ding dong ditch” her students and leave small gifts by the door.
- The groups organizing help for the elderly to get the supplies they need.
- The grocery store manager buying loads of unsold Girl Scout cookies from a troop to give to hard-working employees.
And on, and on, and on. There will be more stories.
This. THIS… is what happened after 9/11. We were all on the same side. We were all scared. And we all needed to see good things happen. Everyone wished this refreshing spirit of goodwill would continue. Unfortunately, collective altruism lost and familiar partisan practices won .
I recently read a post from a young adult saying they hoped it would stay like this. You know what? I really hope so, too. I hope this changes our lives forever. I hope we never grow weary of kindness and jumping in to do the hard things just because we are able.
Maybe we will be better humans because of this mess. Maybe we will continue to be good stewards of our resources.
Cook more. Connect deeper. Love harder.
It’s all up to us. Choose to make it better. And if you “Ok, Boomer” me, fine. I’m just rooting for all of us to win this together.
So pour your coffee. Make it strong. Check on your mama. Call your friends. And put something wonderful into the world that wasn’t there yesterday.
Love and coffee, Friends. (And a whole lot of prayers.)
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)