I’ve been trying to write this blog post for at least two weeks, but I kept stopping because I couldn’t find the right words to tie together all the things I’m feeling right now. But the losses in my life are mounting, so I’ll press on.
My son Jameson was born the week before the country shut down for what we thought would only be two weeks. He’s almost 4 and a half months now, and for the first time, we used his stroller for something other than a walk around the neighborhood or an empty paved path.
People in my family have suffered a lot of loss in the last month. Some of it because of COVID, some of it not. They’ve lost jobs, buried family members, said goodbye to pets, held memorials for friends—moments that are hard to face any day. But now, what feels like a never-ending sentence of social distancing and wearing masks is making it that much harder to face. No hugging. No shoulder pats. No handholding. No indoor funerals. No “let’s go to the bar and drink for an hour so we can forget about how bad it all hurts.”
It’s been in the 90s lately but I keep wearing a mask because I don’t want anyone else I care about to suffer loss, but I especially don’t want them to have to do it alone. I don’t want COVID to continue wrecking us endlessly.
I’ve been thinking a lot about grief these days. We’re all grieving right now. It takes many forms. We’re grieving lost time with the people we’re used to seeing. Big Sunday dinners with extended family. Friday night concerts on the lawn. Weekend getaways by the community pool. Annual picnics and reunions by the lake. Shopping in a store and making an actual impulse buy.
Kids are grieving proms and last days of school and graduation ceremonies. Summer camps they look forward to all year. Sleepovers with friends. Family summer nights where everyone isn’t huddled around their laptops working because they didn’t have enough time to work during the day and keep the kids occupied.
My brother-in-law’s kids are much older than Jameson. And he said something to me weeks ago about how lucky I am that my son’s too young to remember COVID. But the trauma is real no matter the age. it’s just different.
I got to spend a few months learning to be a mom, watching him grow, and then one day, we just stopped playing during the day. I stayed home, but i started spending hours at a computer, stopping every so often to look over and check on him, only to turn back to my screen or my phone or my notepad. He hated it. I hated it. It was miserable.
He’s growing up in a world where he’s barely met anyone, where he’s barely seen anything, where a mask is scary but normal. We went to the pediatrician the other week and the look on his face while I sat next to his stroller wearing my mask was so sad. He looked so scared and unsure. Was that mama? What was on her face?
Now, he gets to spend the day with a few other kids at daycare, and I get to focus on my work, but that time we spent piecing together childcare hurt my heart. He won’t remember it, but I will.
Everyone’s grieving something during this time. Whether it’s a person, a place, a memory, an expectation of what this spring and summer (and soon fall) would bring and didn’t. All our experiences are incredibly similar and yet vastly different. We’re suffering losses in all shapes and sizes. And the neighbor next to us has no idea what we’re facing. Extend some grace. Check on your people. Remember you’re not alone. Someone, somewhere, is thinking of you and itching to reach out. Pick up the phone. We may not be able to stand side by side, but we haven’t forgotten how to care about the people in our lives. I know that much is true.