By Michelle Riddell
You will want to remember this.
Maybe not next year or the year after, but someday, when the shock and horror wear off, when we are sitting next to each other at say, a baby shower or a band concert, so close that my sleeve brushes yours, and we exchange a look that recalls these strange days—you will want to.
You will want to remember how it felt to wake up in the morning, how it took a moment for the cloud of sleep to lift, and then another for the cloud of day to settle, and how you would ask yourself, What did I do yesterday? Did I shower? Did it rain?
You will want to remember how you passed the time, how you became mesmerized by colorful cardboard shapes and lettered tiles and playing-cards. How you drifted off in thought, mid-turn, worrying about the kids from school.
You will want to remember how at last, when you had all the time in the world to read, you couldn’t tame your mind beyond a sentence.
Maybe, like me, you lost yourself in a closet or a drawer, emerging hours later, aimlessly clutching saved baby clothes and keychains bought on vacation.
Maybe, like me, you felt guilt and relief about being healthy, safe, spared.
Maybe, like me, you cried watching a music video someone shared on Facebook, a dreamy, haunting rendition of A Day in the Life, so harrowingly beautiful it hurt.
You will want to remember how in this time, some people turned inward, some to nature, some to humor, some to God.
How, when we all felt helpless, some made bread, others art. Some made masks. Others wore them.
How phrases like “virus shedding” and “social distancing” became part of our vernacular, how we ran out of ways to say “unprecedented.”
How we kept running tallies of our infected and our dead.
How you stopped caring, or started caring, or wished you’d been a better daughter.
You will want to remember how you changed, how you went from the rigid enforcer to letting your kids to eat cake in their bedrooms. How you learned to wait. How you learned what mattered.
Maybe you made a schedule.
Maybe you upheld the bedtime routine.
Maybe you called your mom at midnight just to hear her sigh and tell you to get some sleep.
You need to remember this. I want you to remember this, because years from now, a lifetime from now, when we’re leaving somewhere, saying goodbye, when I’m hugging you tight and tighter still, and we both laugh, and yet I don’t let go—you will know why.
Michelle Riddell lives with her family in rural mid-Michigan, where she writes, edits, and is a substitute teacher. Her hobbies include, finding the good in any situation, convincing her daughter to try different foods, and digital humor. Connect with her on Twitter or Facebook.
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