This afternoon is rainy, and we are all upstairs in my room. One of you is reading on my bed, probably a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book; the other is here beside me at my counter-height art table challenging herself with the slide puzzle on my phone.
Being allowed to use my phone for anything is a novelty, but her desire to challenge herself is not. I love this about both of you, the arbitrary challenges you set for yourselves just to see if you can do it. I’ll be honest, you probably don’t get this from me.
We are living through a season unlike any other in recent decades, this worldwide pandemic keeping us at home, forcing us to maintain distance when near friends and to get familiar with seeing folks in masks out in public.
One of the reasons I like writing letters to you is that I always try to imagine you reading them, try to imagine what the world will be like in that time: the world as a whole but also your own world and how you are experiencing it.
When you read this letter, for example, I don’t know how old you’ll be or where you’ll be living or what you’ll be doing, but I do know this: the world will not look like it does now.
I find that encouraging.
Whenever I can’t see the end of something or am worried about how it will turn out, I think of you, as an adult, discovering my writing and knowing that whatever event I’m writing about is solidly in the past. Because life does go on. Some things change. Some thing stay the same. But it keeps going on, even though I can’t, with my limited vision, begin to predict how it might turn out.
I did this a lot before and after the election of 2016.
And I am doing it a lot now.
Our life is gentle and slow these days. You two are easy to have at home, and I am grateful that prior to March of 2020, we had an established rhythm and expectation of days ordered by peace. The things that often added busyness to our days and weeks—namely, obligations outside our home—have been released for us into the nether.
And the truth is, it doesn’t make me too sad to lose some of those things.
Now don’t get me wrong: there are a lot of things making me sad these days. I feel the burden of the world’s brokenness more than I ever have. I am worried for the least of these in particular, those experiencing job loss, health instability, loneliness. I am worried for children in physically unsafe and food insecure homes right here in my community. I am worried for our legislators and worry that they are out of touch with average Americans, because I am so radically aware of how out of touch I am with the suffering of so many here in my own town, on my own street.
We have been fortunate during this season; though life looks different for us, at this point our biggest worries have not been life and death worries. They have been minor inconveniences.
And yet the world as a whole is groaning in pain right now in this season, girls, and it is easy to get overwhelmed.
But it is also easy to look for the helpers. There are so many helpers. So many people coming up with pragmatic and creative ways to offer hope to the world. So many people showing up when showing up is called for, even if they’re wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart. So many reminders to reach out and love and encourage even if and even when and even so.
I am trying my best, girls, to offer hope. I am trying to live in the present, not in the what-ifs and what-mights and fear-mongering that has become commonplace.
But when I do start to wonder and wander into the future, this summer, next school year, the longer-term down-the-road questions of job security and economic downturns—when I get to that point, I look at you, and I take a deep breath.
Because I know someday you’ll be reading this letter, and I know this season will be part of history.
I anticipate it will be a significant moment on our historical timeline, a turning point for a lot of things, and that life globally will look different post-2020. But the truth is, even in that I may be wrong. Though I do know that for many people, family and home life will not be the same because this season has been drastically marked by loss and grief and heartache.
Still, I like to think about you as a grown-up, remembering this season. The afternoons up in my room. The new bicycles for your birthdays. The dozens of books you’ve read over the last few weeks. The birthday videos I asked friends and family to record for you.
I hope you’ll remember, even as the history books catalog the losses and tragedies and you learn about the wider scope of the pandemic and its aftershocks in coming years.
I hope you’ll remember.
And I hope you’ll mention this letter to me someday, asking what I remember, so we can compare what I have to say then with what I am writing today, this rainy Wednesday at the end of April, in the midst of Covid-19.