We have been confined to our home for approximately 945 days. Or a month. Or twelve years. I don’t even know anymore. The natives are restless. Skies are blue, sun is shining, birds are chirping, and my eight- and nine-year-old children refuse to leave the XBOX. It doesn’t matter that I have told them 14 times today that they can’t play on the XBOX because it’s beautiful out and the last thing they need is screen time; they are relentless. Their not-used-to-working-from-home father will assuredly cave to the pressure shortly after lunch. The preteen is angsty without her friends to commiserate over shared angst. The preschooler has gone all-out feral. What is this life we are now leading? Will the quarantine ever end? Will Walmart ever be restocked with toilet paper? These are the questions that now dominate my thoughts — or at least they dominate the 12 individual thoughts I am allowed each day, as the remainder of my mental bandwidth is consumed by rationing snacks, planning and preparing three meals a day seven days a week for forever, worrying about my parents’ health, and weighing the educational value of everything on Disney+ to determine what we can count as homeschooling.
But let’s be honest, it’s not all bad.
In no way do I wish to belittle or dismiss the very real suffering and pain that exists as a result of this pandemic. People are sick and dying, jobs are lost, many of those at highest risk are living in fear. Those in the lowest income brackets are — as usual — affected most profoundly by the economic impact, and the strain on mental health is incalculable. But in the midst of our suffering, we find the depth and beauty of humanity, the profound sense of community and warmth of which only humans are capable. Would we have ever seen this bright light were it not for the darkness of our present situation?
Neighbors are making music together on their balconies; restaurants are providing free meals to kids in need; individuals are making cloth face masks to protect the N95s our healthcare workers are having to ration; and if you’re not watching “Some Good News with John Krasinski,” you need to get on that pronto. We are seeing people offer their gifts for the good of others, and it is truly, deeply moving.
This — the compassion, the generosity, the resilience, the beauty — this is what it means to be human.
Even in my own circus of a home, goodness is blooming. We are playing together, whether XBOX or basketball doesn’t really matter as long as we are together. My sensitive child has learned a new art skill to help him channel his big emotions. My daughter is reading the novel that was her grandmother’s favorite as a child, and they’re video chatting to discuss. Everyone is much more relaxed without the academic pressure from school, and it has even allowed some of my children to thrive by learning at their own pace. (God bless Khan Academy!) I have been reading the Harry Potter series aloud to my children so they can share a story that is special to me. We have found each other in a way we didn’t even know we were missing.
There is a song that’s been playing on repeat in my head during this pandemic, an oldie but a goodie from Switchfoot called “Hello, Hurricane.” It’s about the strength and resilience of love, and the chorus goes like this:
Hello hurricane // You’re not enough
Hello hurricane // You can’t silence my love
I’ve got doors and windows boarded up
All your dead end fury is not enough
You can’t silence my love