What was it like living through a pandemic? you’ll ask me one day. By then, I’ll probably forget most of this. I won’t remember the little details. I’ll only remember the feeling that stuck to my skin, penetrating my bones, rearranging my DNA to change me (and therefore you) on a cellular level.
I’ll tell you that your dad and I were lucky. We were safe in our cozy, little home with our verdant, little backyard in our friendly, little neighborhood, just minutes away from our loving family members. We were able to work and manage life remotely. I wrote a lot and read a lot, and your father and I created music together (your dad got really good at piano). We argued about your names (but you know who won in the end). We laughed a lot and worried a lot, and reevaluated our beliefs. We chose to remain optimistic, reminding ourselves that our moment in history was still far better than what most humans have endured. We confirmed how much we wanted you in our lives—how much we needed a little bit of chaos and a whole lot of noise, yet we felt lucky we had so much time alone with each other before our lives changed (for the better) forever.
But I hope I’ll tell you that the pandemic changed us and we changed the world for the better, too.
I hope I’ll be able to tell you that everyone changed after the pandemic.
That we learned we’re doing too much and not being enough. That we suddenly understood so many of the material possessions and status symbols we’d been chasing our whole lives were worthless. That we realized we blindly follow politicians and corporations and media without thinking critically (so we stopped). That we grew to appreciate a simple hug, a walk around the block, someone delivering homemade dessert to our doorstep.
I hope I’ll be able to tell you that companies began saying “thank you” to their employees; not through insincere advertisements showing smiling faces clapping for laborers, but by increasing workers’ salaries, providing health care, offering paid sick leave, allowing the work day to actually end by 5pm.
I hope I’ll be able to tell you that the burden of solving the country’s financial issues was taken off the backs of the middle class. That we finally figured out how to fairly tax citizens so that everyone could afford a quality life. That we discovered no one should profit off worldwide death and suffering. And no one should be able to reach “trillionaire” status during a devastating recession.
I hope I’ll be able to tell you that I gave and loved as much as I could. That I simplified my life even more than I already had. That I confirmed my own belief that all we need is the little things: family, friends, tasty meals and comforting drinks, good music and interesting books, time in nature, a few sparkly things (not too many), more sunny days than rainy days, a sense of humor. And an ability to see beyond the current situation, a strong faith in a promising tomorrow, and a determination to make it happen ourselves.
I hope I’ll be able to tell you that in the end it was all OK because we had each other, and truly that’s all we ever need.