One year ago tomorrow, March 12th 2020, I was on my deck, on the phone with a friend, a gin and tonic in my hand at one o’clock in the afternoon because the official call came in – school would be closed for the next two weeks starting that afternoon.
As I was telling my friend this over the phone, a text came through from the school district. We wouldn’t be closing for two weeks. We’d be closing for six weeks. At some point, they extended it for longer. May 6th I believe was the date. All I had known was that we’d won a terrible lottery – out of all my friends, our school’s closure was the longest.
I just didn’t know how long that would end up being.
When I got my daughter off the bus, I noticed she was one of three kids, instead of the usual seven. All the other kids on her bus with more medical issues had already been staying home. She came home with her school laptop and things to fill in the time she’d be out. Matching items and sight words and coloring pages – they made sure they sent home some of her favorite coloring pages.
We never did those lessons. I still have them though.
I didn’t know that on March 12th, I’d say goodbye to her bus driver for the last time. That the school bus ride that day would be her last one. I thought maybe we wouldn’t be in school for a few weeks, possibly the rest of the semester, but surely, by summer, we’d be okay. We’d be back to waiting at the corner, scrolling through Pinterest at pretty dresses, greeting our lovely bus driver with a smile, then waving goodbye as the bus drove off.
I can’t laugh about my naiveté yet. I hope her bus driver is doing alright.
Yet that day, one year ago, that bright, overly-warm spring day with the gin and tonic in my hand, standing on my deck as I nervous laughed with a friend over the fact that our school closure would be four weeks longer than expected…that moment is burned into my memory. It’s a weird memory – this bright beautiful day, a lovely drink, laughing with a friend – all while the world as we knew it crumbled around me. I can almost feel the warm breeze in my hair when I think about it.
That spring was unusually warm and sunny. I am still grateful for that. It was like Seattle realized we were going through a crisis and thought “Let’s not add to the misery.”
I’m not one to process feelings in the thick of things – I tend to soldier through and then months or years later, I look back and think “Well, that was shit.” or something similar. Last year at this time, I was busy bracing myself for all the unknowns – something I excel at. Plan for the worst, hope for the best, no use whining about it, just keep carrying on.
In a way, I was weirdly designed to do well in a pandemic.
It doesn’t mean it hasn’t affected me less than others.
I just know I saw the world crumbling and I toasted it with a sparkling alcoholic beverage and laughed.
Maybe I shouldn’t have stopped seeing my therapist.