Dear Little One,
What can I say? It’s my job to remain strong for you right now but there’s things I hope you’ll know, someday, looking back.
Like, this isn’t what I want for you. I’m upset that you’ll have vivid memories of a pandemic. I’m so sorry part of your childhood will hold this confusion and (Dear Lord, don’t let it be so) but potentially, this trauma. I wonder if against my best efforts, you’ll wind up paranoid because of a virus that closed down the world. I wonder if you’ll live with a fear you’ll never truly be able to shake. I wonder if you’ll come out of this experience, however it shall end, with PTSD or an anxiety disorder or will this experience trigger something else? I pray that the isolation won’t have any long term, negative effects. I pray you’ll come out of this without a single scar. I pray we’ll all stay healthy.
I hope someday you’ll forgive me for the moments I’ve been short or disconnected. It’s not you. I hope you know that. At times I’ve been scared. Deeply scared. I’ve been anxious as well. See, this is all new to me too. I’ve been distracted by a circus of information in the news, news that I can’t let you see or hear. There’s so much conflicting information that I don’t know what’s what and I just want to know enough to keep us safe. I want to know when the state will reopen or get a glimpse of when life will return to normal. Did I mention it’s an election year? This particular election is quite chaotic, as was the last. Maybe you’ll remember how tense things could get then, any time politics came up. I fear life will never go back to normal and yet I must retain a hope and enthusiasm for you that it will. Anyways, I guess I just really want you to know I was trying to do the best I could but it was hard and scary and I never wanted you to see that struggle within me. Sometimes the stress of it all has become too much. The staying in and not having my time out of the house has taken it’s tole. I’m sorry for the times I was snippy and for the extra time I’ve needed to lock myself away in my room alone. Please forgive me if I ever let you down.
At times I’ve been busy on my phone, trying to weed through information. Other times I’ve been preoccupied trying to figure out things that have never been challenges before now, like, finding toilet paper or disinfectant or hand sanitizer. I’ve had to deal with things that feel alien, things I’ve heard about only from history books or my friends who grew up in other countries, like empty store shelves or limits on how many gallons of milk, etc., I’m allowed to buy. The inconvenience of it all has me appreciating the luxuries we once enjoyed here in America, more than ever before. I’ve spent far too much time trying to find one more recipe for chicken and I know you’re sick of peanut butter & jelly. On days when I’ve either brought home groceries or been lucky enough to get them delivered, I’ve worn out quickly from wiping down cereal boxes and every other item that’s come into the house. Going into a store is suddenly scary and no longer a time for me to get away-in a good way-that only parents understand. Getting groceries delivered is no longer a luxury but instead a huge stress. Going shopping safely, is a whole other story. Every aspect of life is different now and I’m just trying to figure it all out. Perhaps what I struggle with most is that we’ve lost the security in former rhythms and schedules that I worked so hard to create. We had life down so well and there’s been grief and confusion in having what was once familiar, stripped away. We’ve lost some income and I’m burdened thinking of those who have lost it all. I’m more grateful than ever but am always aware we could lose it all too. I’ve had to adjust quickly and help you adjust as well and I never know when life will change again.
My heart breaks every single time I think about how you were so happy in your life, with your activities and clubs and without any warning or choice in the matter, it was all ripped out from under your feet. I’m saddened at what you’ve missed out on. You never got to see your hard work pay off in some areas and it’s not fair. There were no proper endings. No proper awards. No goodbyes. No real understanding of what was happening. You’ve been lonely at times. I’ve tried to keep you happy and connected but it just isn’t the same, seeing everyone on video call and in some instances, there’s those you haven’t been able to see at all. You must miss your friends and the life we had more than you can express. I think about how I can barely put my feelings about this whole mess into words and I want to sob thinking how much harder it must be on you. Even though we have tried explaining this whole thing to you as best we can, have opened up honest conversation and offered our ears should you ever want to talk about it, I know you’re hurting in ways you can’t say or even understand.
I’m sorry you’ve missed so much time with grandparents and cousins. I’m sorry that Easter wasn’t the same. I worry about what other holidays will come and go during this time we’re sequestered away at home. Will you have to eat MY take on turkey this Thanksgiving and not Grandma’s? God help us all! Will we have Christmas with the ones we love? Will you ever again get to run around carelessly with your cousins? Will you get to hold your baby cousin while she’s still a baby? Will you ever get to hug your grandparents again? There are tiny moments of fear and grief that creep in as I wonder if we’ll ever again celebrate a holiday the way we used to, or a birthday and then no sooner that it creeps in, do I shut it out because I can’t let my heart go there. It’s too much hurt and worry to feel, even for me. I miss so many people and so many things. I just can’t imagine going on like this for much longer. We’ve watched your Great-Nana and your Great-Great Aunt be buried on video call and it’s been surreal and brought with it a deep grief that’s hard to explain. I worry about who else we’ll have to watch buried in this way, without the ability to cry with and hug the ones we love. Without the chances to make memories and share visits together. You’ve seen me cry more in the last couple of months than probably ever before. I’m sorry for any time this made you worry. It’s okay to cry though and even more okay to feel sad. I hope seeing me express my feelings in this way will help you be more comfortable to do the same when you too need to let it all out.
There’s so much I miss about life and the way it was but reflecting on things, I’m also grateful we’ve had this time with the busyness stripped away, though this isn’t what I would have chosen. The truth though, is that we’ve talked more. We’ve prayed more. We’ve shared what we’re grateful for every single night at dinner. We’ve spent more time playing board games, reading books and talking. I hope the extra moments together or how your Grandma calls every night on video call to read you a story or how we’ve been learning together that life doesn’t always go the way we plan but we make the best of the situation we’re in, are the good things that stick with you when this is all over.
I hope you know that through this all, I’ve just been trying my best. I’ve had some moments I’m proud of and many where I’ve failed. I hope you forgive me. I hope you know how much I love you and how proud I am of you for doing the best you can too. I hold onto hope that this pandemic and experience that you will likely never forget, will stick with you in the best ways possible. I hope you’ll focus on the good and not the bad. I think of my grandparents who lived through losing siblings, the Great Depression, wars, losing parents, hard economies and yet, they were resilient, strong, faithful and filled with faith. They trusted that God is in control. They were resourceful, grateful, and joyful even. They appreciated everyone and everything. They didn’t take life for granted and I can only hope, that through this turn you didn’t choose, you’ll carry those same qualities and beliefs into the rest of your life too.
I don’t know how this ends. I wish I could tell you I know for certain it will all be okay. I wish I could tell you for certain what the coming weeks and months will bring, but I can’t. All I know is this; I love you, I trust God and no matter what lays ahead, my little one, we will be stronger because we were in this together.