There were no hugs of goodbye or even time to take home belongings left behind. For everything was immediate and a timeline an unknown. Schools closed to protect us all, but there is an understandable sadness in adjusting to the unknown rather than the preplanned and we mourn what is out of control. For change is difficult when what we want to teach the next generation is adherence to the same, and yet we know for now we can not teach what we knew and it can not be as our childhood had been. So we abandon what we thought the months of this year would look like and we try to adjust and anticipate what life will be.
There is no guarantee that our visions of what would have been memorable and wonderful for our children would have been so, but there is a chance that it might have been and that is the loss felt by all. Often we want our children to share the same experiences we had at their age. The end of the year pictures, the class trips, the lunch boxes packed and the clothes planned ahead as rights of passage were changed. The young have shown us such strength and resilience and have adapted often better than their parents have to this change with quiet questions and wishful thoughts of visiting people and places again one day and we have begun to say yes more often to these dreamlike lists of activities even when the time is unknown.
Birthdays have come and gone with cakes to mark the day and candles found in drawers from days long before. Playgrounds are closed and children ask for the signs to be read and wonder what is happening around them that no one can play together and the slides and swings must be roped off from them and the look, but they no longer ask for clarification aloud. These children are taking change as part of their life and their acceptance is admirable.
We struggle with thoughts of how things can change and yet be effective and provide happiness within our homes. Long quiet hours are spent trying to comprehend new realities from masks and separating children, to see the halt of camps and teams, to learn again how to fly in full planes, how to once again see an elevator as simply a mode of transport and not dwell on the closeness that it demands and how to eat outside and celebrate ceremonies again. We want to understand better how to safely live in this new world.
So we pick up what our children left behind at school and our heart breaks a little at the coldness of these days. Of driving to a once familiar school only to find teachers spaced apart outside with bags marked with names of the children. We want to see our children running down the stairs and into our arms and excited to tell us what they did to celebrate their last day of school, but instead, we accept the belongings through the window and we exchange simple words and we pause to be thankful for health and family, but we still struggle with what the future holds for them. We can instill senses of safety, love, security, and trust, but eventually, we know that we will not be their entire world forever as we were never meant to be. So we live each day moving forward from weeks into seasons and live in hope for a future when there will be days like before when families were apart at times and safe outside the walls and beyond each other’s sight.