My wife and I are newly “empty-nesters”. A month ago, two of my kids were away at college and my oldest was in the process of moving from California to the East Coast. I was busy at work and planning a vacation in April.
Everything has changed: colleges are closed, CDC guidelines are in place, and stay-at-home orders issued. My three children returned home to shelter with us as their schools and jobs ended or switched to online. We have all had to adjust to living together again (and not just for a week over spring break!).
It has been good to be with my family. In a time when going out becomes a risk/benefit analysis and a series of trade-offs, having my family home helps me feel safer and better able to be present in the world.
I had been watching the news and following the coronavirus spread for several months but only as a spectator. I was taking precautions, washing my hands a lot, and social distancing but did not really understand what was happening. It came home for me when I learned of the death of a Boone County resident. The first death from Covid-19 in Missouri.
My heart broke for the family who’s loved one had died and I more fully understood this could no longer be business as usual.
I feel the tension in the air. People hurry through public spaces. I see the worry on their faces. And, I too am worried: concerned for my friends and clients who are health care workers, cashiers, nursing home residents, people who are incarcerated, and first responders, kids at home missing school, people who are losing their jobs. I am scared for my family and friends scattered around the world.
It can be overwhelming. I have limited my time on twitter (nothing important has happened in the past two minutes) and try to read the news at dedicated times in the morning and evening. Normally, I would turn to my friends, family and social networks for support. Now, these are the very activities I must limit.
Last Thursday my neighbors organized a “driveway party”.
In the past, on a warm day, someone might post an invite for neighbors to congregate after work in a driveway to visit. Since social gatherings are no longer an option, several of the families in our neighborhood drug lawn chairs to the end of their driveways.
We visited by hollering at each other across the street and across our yards. We caught up with each other, sharing updates, making sure everyone was okay.
We live on a busy street. People driving by would slow down and wave, neighbors walking their dogs would stop for a minute and chat, and people in the neighborhood I have never met introduced themselves from 20-30 feet away.
As the evening cooled, I lingered a little longer than I normally would before I went inside.
(As I sit writing this at my dining room table, a string of cars just drove down my street waving Mizzou flags, stuffed animals tied on their roofs, dogs and kids hanging out the windows and horns honking!)
I am glad it is Spring in Missouri. The buds in the understory are opening and the air is warming. The tulip trees are flowering, and the redbuds are close behind. And, even though I can never seem to find them, this is supposed to be a good year for morels.
I have opened the windows in my house. It is reassuring to have a steady breeze blowing through. And, I have newfound gratitude for my lungs as I breathe in the fresh air.
Written by Jeremy Duke